Saturday, July 30, 2011

Film School: Part Seven

By the end of their meeting, they had some semblance of a plan. They would hold auditions, for the thousands of people who would obviously be clamboring to star in a movie that was far to indie and far to mainstream to ever be well known in either group.
They were to post flyers on the bulletin boards all across campus stating the day (Sunday) and time (4:00) of the auditions. The auditions were to be held in the quad, since it was large and had no rules governing group meetings or the amount of noise created by such meetings.
The fluorescent paper was plastered throughout the school, which seemed as though it would draw a sufficient crowd. They gathered at the quad twenty minutes before the specified time, despite Vivian's constant worry that they weren't going to be there in time, that they were going to be late to their own auditions, and they were the only ones who seemed to be present for their event. As the time drew near, they all (excluding Grant, who was in one of his moods in which he was incapable of human emotion) got a little more excited.
"What is it?"
"What do you think they're going to be like?"
"I think they're going to be three-headed purple aliens, Vivian. I think they're going to be aliens."
"Mike, we need to be serious. This is serious. We're making a movie, and it's a really big deal. This is our first real, professional project. We need to act like adults."
"And what do adults act like?"
"Adults do not assume that the people who are going to show up for their auditions are blue aliens."
"You're right, Viv. I'm an adult because there's no way I would expect blue aliens. I, for one, am fairly certain that the aliens will be purple."
"Mike, there's really no reason to get mad at me."
"I'm not mad at you."
"You're acting like you're mad at me."
"Both of you, cut it out." Grant said, sternly.
They looked alarmed.
"Dude, since when do you actually care about this project?"
"Since you two fools roped me into it, that's when."
Mike and Vivian exchanged a look of befuddlement. "Well then, it's good that you finally see what it is that we care about so deeply."
"I saw it all along, I just haven't been putting a lot of effort into it."
"Is it going to change then?"
"Not in the near future, hun."
"I'm not hun." Vivian seemed a little irritated at the perceived patronization.
"Everyone can be hun. I'm Southern. I can do that."
"Grant, you're from Conneictiut."
"I'm Southern in spirit."
They stared off in different directions for a while, checking their phones and looking disinterested, each of them following passers-by with their eyes, hoping against hope that they would be the one. No one was the one. No one glanced their way with a kind of curiosity that screamed "Are you here for me? Are you my ticket to glory?"
Four o'clock became four thirty, which became five. Finally, at five twenty-one, someone gave them that look. She was skinny, wearing all black, with hair dyed a putrid shade of green. "Are you the ones holding auditions for that film?"
"Yes! Yes we are! Would you like to audition? Are you an actress?" Vivian seemed overeager, just a little.
"Uhhh, sure. I can audition. What do you want me to do?"
"You can perform your monologue for us whenever you're ready."
"My monologue?"
Grant rolled his eyes rather visibly while Mike explained "The piece you have memorized? To show us a bit of your acting?"
"I don't have one." Most people would be ashamed or embarrassed at this, but this girl seemed entirely blunt about her lack of preparation.
"Then you can't try out. And anyway, the part is for a male." Grant too, lacked subtlety.
"Grant, really?" Vivian looked displeased and turned to the stranger. "Would you care to improv something?"
"I can, I guess."
"Start whenever you like."
"Okay then. This is a story about my, um, best friend, growing up. We were walking around the town where my parents live, and her parents used to live there, but her dad moved away when her mom died. We were fourteen, and we haven't talked a lot since then. But that's a different story. We were walking down this street, and we pass the graveyard, which is kind of cool in the daytime, because you can look around at the old, worn out headstones, but at night it's just weird. There was this one bush, and in the dark it looked like a pile of dirt, like someone had been digging up a grave. Then, she thinks she sees this guy, or maybe she actually sees this guy, I'm not sure. And then we ran, as fast as we could and we got out of there." She paused to take a breath, which she hadn't done in quite some time.
"Is this a true story?"
"It's an improvisation."
"I see."
"We'll be back to you in a few days if you get the part, alright?"
"Sure. Thank you. Bye." She turned and scurried away.
Once she was out of earshot, Grant leaned foreword so that he could look Vivian in the eye. "Really, Viv? Really? Is that all that this stupid school has to offer?"
"You don't have to be so harsh, you know. She was obviously very nervous."
"No matter how nervous she was, she sucked." Mike interjected.
"Isn't there anyone else around here?"
"There are plenty of people around here. None of them want to be in our film."
"Why is that? What are we doing wrong?" Vivian was frustrated at the thought of there being people who didn't love and adore her.
"It's not what we're doing, it's who we are. We don't have anything that anyone wants in the filmmaking world."
"Gee Grant, aren't you a regular Debbie Downer?"
"I make a special effort, just for you."
"I'm honored."
"Stop it. Now. You're acting like idiots. We're going to break now, and regroup tomorrow. I don't want to see either of you for the rest of the day."
"Good idea. Bye." Vivian turned and left.
"I'm gonna head out, then."
"See you later."

Thursday, July 28, 2011


I'm so tired right now.  I'm not sure why, really, but this week has wiped me out.  Staying up 'till 2:30 last night probably didn't help.  Is it always this difficult?  Would this be difficult for anyone who isn't me?  Becca did this, last week.  Lifeguarding and Village Staff all on her own.  And she had more cookouts.  And she was in Chippewa, so it took her an extra fifteen minutes to get anywhere.  Why is this so tough for me?  Why am I so dumb?  Why didn't I get enough ground turkey, or any sweetened condensed milk, and why did it take me twenty minutes to realize that we had a lifetime supply of tortillas sitting in the pantry, at eye level?  I'm still going to have to pack that cookout, the spaghetti and doughboys for breakfast (some sort of opposite day thing) and then pack the horse camp pizza pockets in a cooler so they can take them along for lunch.  Then it's s'mores for the Chippewa group after dinner, and that's all.  I can handle that, right?  Why is Brent so useless?  I was talking to Jo about him earlier, in a not really positive at all kind of way, and we were in the kitchen.  Later, he comes out of the DVD office at the other end of the unit shelter.  I don't know if he was there while I was talking about him, and I don't know if he heard.  The kitchen has a sort of base level of loudness that makes it difficult to hear things that are happening inside from outside.  There are two big fridges and one big freezer, plus the cookout fridge and the bread freezer, so they all make noise, and I wasn't being that loud.  I really shouldn't have said that, but I've been talking about him all summer.  That totally makes me a jerk, doesn't it?  He's in the same position that I am, first summer on staff and not really sure what to do or where to fit in, and I'm being mean for no reason.  I am such an asshole.  I just took "Shank Brent" off of the stickies thing on my dashboard.  Baby steps, right?
He was being sort of aloof towards me earlier, when I was in the kitchen, eating, but he's always sort of like that.  And Fred and Nancy were out in the other room, eating, but I had to act like an antisocial freak and just stay in the kitchen.  When I left, Fred asked me if I was going to a cookout, and I was just like "no".  Because obviously, if I hadn't been invited to a cookout, I would have just eaten with them, and sat at a table of adults, and conversed like a normal person, instead of sitting in the kitchen and refilling dishes for an hour.  I'm not sure if  I remember how normal meals work for adults around camp.  I just want to sleep.  I just want to sleep.

I did go to sleep.  With the staff cabin radio next to me, on my bed.  I am fairly certain that Joel does the same thing.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Film School: Part Six

"Mike, what were you texting me about all day? Come to the library, come to the library. I got the message. What’s up?” Vivian looked slightly confused.
“Oh, um, Grant. Hi. How are you?”
“That’s really great, Grant.” She said “great” and “Grant” next to each other in a sentence. Mistake. It sounded gross. She looked down at the table that she was leaning on. Stood up straight.
He nodded and she turned back to Mike.
“Thanks for coming to the meeting. Sit, please.”
“So I’m allowed to be a part of this?” She sounded needier than she meant to. This was not a situation in which sounding needy would help, not in the least.
“You wanted this? I was roped in.”
“Being a part of something special makes you special. I think this is really special.”
“It is something special. This could be everything, if we make it everything.”
“Mike, let’s cut to the chase. What kind of movie are we making?” Grant interrupted whatever kind of strange, spiritual moment they had been having.
“It’s a one-actor type thing.”
“What kind of a movie has one actor?”
“It’s unique.”
“It’s plotless.”
“Anyway, we’re doing it.”
“You two are so silly and childish.”
“There’s nothing silly or childish about believing in your dreams. You should try it sometime.”
“You just got served, bro.”
“I did not just get served.”
“So let’s start this thing. We need to get storyboarding.”
“That’s gross.”
“Is there something on my face?” She wiped her mouth with the back of her hand while Mike chuckled.
“We don’t really need to plan this out. We can just go with the flow, you know?”
Vivian turned her head to the right, further than looked possible. “We don't really need to plan? What are you planning on making, a trainwreck?”
“Oh snap!” Mike said.
“Unnecessary, Mike.” Vivian snapped.
“Whatever. I just can't see you two working together. Ever.”
“Can we at least do a little planning on this thing before we just dive in?”
“No.” Mike and Grant said, in unison.
“You are children.”
“Probably true.”
“Well, I'm going to plan this thing out.” She paused for a second, expecting some sort of murmur of agreement. There was none, so, after looking disappointed for a second, she resumed her previously perky disposition and pulled a notebook out of her bag. “Planning is ninety percent of any successful project.”
“Mike, could I talk to you?”
“Yeah.” Mike seemed a little confused by this request.
“You have to get up and walk away.”
“I don't want to get up.”
“I'm just guessing here, but I think he wants to talk to you without me around.” At this, Grant and Mike both felt slightly guilty. They did want to talk without her presence, but they weren't intentionally making her feel left out.
“Just talk to him.”
They got up and walked away a little, between two bookshelves with titles like A Complete History of German Nationalism and The Soviet Union Today. “What is she doing here?” Grant seemed angry.
“She wanted to be a part of it, okay? I couldn't just say no. And she's really good. Some of the stuff I've seen of hers is way better than anything we've ever made.” A white lie wasn't really a lie, was it?
“Mike, do you go around telling people about your crazy ideas?”
“Yes. Sometimes.”
“This is a trend that should be stopped dead in it's tracks.”
“Is that all?”
And with that, they went back to the table where she had been sitting. Both were considerably more subdued than they had been before.
“You have an outline? Already?”
“I've been working on it for a while now.”
“Oh, um, okay.”
“Do you want to help?”

Friday, July 15, 2011

Film School: Part Five

“Hi.” Vivian was standing at his door.
“Are you going to let me in?” She asked, looking past Mike, into his room.
“Why don’t we talk in the hall?” Vivian was more than slightly terrifying, and Mike had no idea of the kind of shenanigans that she would get into if allowed to enter.
He closed the door behind them. The hallway was darker than the room, if that was possible. “So what did you want to talk about?” that seemed like a nicer thing to say than ‘What are you doing here?” which is what he really meant.
“Mike, I know that we’re not best friends or anything,” She looked down and tucked her hair behind her ear, while Mike was struck by how small she was. She was loud and always seemed in control, and it made her seem bigger, somehow. “But I think the movie project that you’re planning has a lot of promise, and I want to help you. I want to create something great, something that we can all be proud of.”
The appeal to emotions was not going to be effective. “What do you have to offer?”
“You’ve seen my work. You know it’s good. Good sense of plot, characters, aesthetics. You know how some movies are just so beautiful that your heart starts beating a little faster? I can make things that feel like that, that give you the same emotional impression.”
He tried not to look impressed. “I see.”
“So, can I?”
“Are you just doing this to get closer to Grant?”
“No.” She seemed just a little defiant, a spirit that didn’t usually show.
“Really? You seem awfully friendly towards him?”
“That’s because we’re friends.”
“Uh huh. I’ll think about it.”
“Okay.” She nodded and walked away.
All she wanted was to be a part of something, for once. Something good, something recognized, something with other people. Was that too much to ask for? Wasn’t she allowed to have something good? Everyone was given things by the universe, inexplicably, without asking. When was her thing going to come? Why couldn’t it be this? She was reaching out for it, she was creating an opportunity for herself, why wasn’t it working?
Because sometimes, nothing works.
Grant was almost asleep when Mike barged into his room.
“Dude, what are you doing here?”
“Remember that movie I wanted to make?”
“That was such a dumb idea, but you were super excited about it.”
“Will you help me make it?”
Grant sat up in bed, alarmed. “You’re actually making it?”
“Yeah.” He paused, in what he hoped was a solemn and dignified way. “I’m making it. Do you want in?”
Grant waited before responding, not deciding on what he would say but on how he would say it. “Yeah. I want to make it.”
“This is fantastic.”
“You’re a nutcase.”

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Quote of the Month

"You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough."

Mae West

Monday, July 11, 2011

This is a casino

On Belle Isle.  I was told that no one goes in there anymore, but I saw three people inside.  They were sitting at a table.  I don't know what they were doing.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Film School: Part Four

Mike went the next few days without opening his document of plans, without really thinking about it. There were other things to concentrate on, like work and school and the inevitability of death and the fact that Sarah still didn’t know that he existed, despite multiple attempts to get her attention. Really the whole situation with her reeked of middle school. Maybe relationships were like that, forever feeling juvenile and pathetic, even when you were older and over it.
It was silly. He was silly. She was silly. School was silly.
And so he opened the document again, this time while Grant was there. Mike knew that Grant wasn’t fully on board with the idea, but it was okay. When he saw how great this movie was going to be, he would get on board with the idea, and probably say that it had all been his idea in the first place. Clearly, he would win on this issue, which was a good thing, because there was no way Mike could handle it all on his own.
Vivian, he realized, was going to be an issue. She was sort of friends with Grant, for some strange, inconceivable reason. If he was to be involved in a major way, then she would have to involve herself too. Vivian was the kind of a crazy control freak.
The next time he saw Grant he wanted to bring it up, he was thinking about it the whole time they were talking, but he couldn’t find a way to say it without going outright and saying “ I hate Vivian. “
He couldn’t do that, but he had to do something.
As Grant was walking away, towards his next class, he blurted out, unintentionally, “Vivan knows.”
Grant turned around, slowly, puzzled. “What does Vivian know?”
“She knows about the movie.”
“What movie?”
“The movie we’re making.”
“We’re not making a movie, Mike. We’re going to school.”
“We can do both.”
“Not well. You get one or the other or half ass on both. I want school, Mike.”
Mike gave him a condescending look. “Grant, let’s face the music.”
“Face the music? Really? Such a cliche’d line.”
“You know what I mean. Facts. Reality. You’re going to have to see the truth. You don’t give a damn about school because you’re a little rich boy who doesn’t even need college and daddy’s paying for everything you need, and he’ll keep on paying for as long as you need. You don’t have anything in your life that you’ve ever worked for. This is something that you can work for, that all of us can work for.”
“Mike, you don’t have a clue. Get out of here.” His voice was lower than it had been before, and he spoke slowly, as if every word was taking extreme effort on his part.
“Just because you’re too stupid to try anything at all doesn’t mean that you have to hold everyone else back!”
“Just because you’re too pathetic to do anything on your own doesn’t mean you have to drag other people along on your stupid ideas.”
And with that, Mike left the room and Grant, pausing for a second to ponder Mike’s new obsession, got back to his previous occupation. It was stupid, wasn’t it? Mike had those kinds of ideas all the time, Grant had seen this sort of thing before. Last month he had decided to start a business farming cockroaches, and thrown away the idea when he realized that he was terrified of cockroaches. Was this the same thing?
But movies were different. Mike really loved movies, more than anyone else he knew. He could give you the plot and starring actors of every movie he had ever seen. Even animated movies, which neither of them had seen in the past fifteen years. He was obsessed, so if he could succeed at anything (a questionable concept) he could succeed at this. They were film students, anyway. Making movies was the kind of thing people like them did. Was it really unreasonable? A cockroach farm was unreasonable. No one farmed cockroaches. But people made movies all the time. Maybe they didn’t make money at it, and maybe no one ever saw them, but it happened. So...why couldn’t it happen for them?
Clearly, it couldn’t happen for them because they were not the right people. They were not the right ones who had the right set of skills to make something happen. Or...were they?
They weren’t, Grant assured himself. They couldn’t be.
He went back to playing video games.
Grant had never been the kind of person who cared. Some people would have considered this a personality flaw or a lack of character. He did not. He considered his mentality to be a result of a privileged upbringing lacking extreme hardship, for which he considered himself to be incredibly lucky. He didn’t have to work hard for anything in his life, and it had given him a unique, if rosy, outlook on life. It was neither good nor bad, it just was, and it could not and would not be changed at present. He would cope. He would move on. He would never be the kind of celebrity who went to third-world countries to adopt babies and be photographed doing charitable works. He would be sheltered and he would be privileged, and that would be okay with him and everyone else.
Was there something wrong with that?

Monday, July 4, 2011

This is a garden

At Belle Isle.  It's not very well maintained.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Film School: Part Three

The next day, Mike was sitting in class, bored. It was some academic thing, totally not his cup of tea. He had gone to college so that he could make movies, not so that he could learn about history or math or whatever it was. So, like any reasonable person, he was slacking off. Instead of taking notes, his computer was on a word document, listing a stream of consciousness of what he wanted for this film. It wasn’t a concrete thing so much as it was a mass of ideas.
At the top of the page, he had written “The kind of movie that feels different every time you watch it.” And then listed aspects. “Protagonist: likable, funny, but also profound. Average viewer can identify with him. Reasonably attractive, but not hunky.” It seemed questionable to include an appearance requirement. Did most directors assume that they could find someone who could play the part well and look right? Mike drew an elephant on the desk with a mechanical pencil he had picked up off of the ground earlier. There were more elements to a good film, he knew it. “Protagonist is fighting against someone from his past.” But who was it, from his past? This character didn’t even have a name, and already, they were trying to find some complication in his past. He didn’t have a past, really. He needed depth, complexity. He needed idiosyncrasies. Wasn’t there that one line, in Good Will Hunting, about that kind of stuff? Mike thought about it for a second. There was a line, the therapist said something about his wife, how his wife had those little oddities that everyone has, and how he was the only person who knew all of them, and how that made her special, right? Something like that. This character needed those. He started typing again, listing every weird thing that he could come up with. “Has never had a different haircut than he has now. Has never grown a beard. Is a horrible dancer. Wears no jewelry. Hated most of school. Not terribly social. Dislikes chocolate. Prefers sour candies to sweet candies. Reads books that others thought were boring, not because he liked them, but to spite people. Wears shiny black shoes with pointed toes that looked like they hurt, but didn’t Maybe cowboy boots, for “out there” occasions. Has not owned a pair of athletic shoes since high school, which was an indeterminate amount of time ago.” This was far too much to be talking about shoes, he knew it. Something else, there had to be something else to talk about. “He has a mysterious past, full of things that are ungood in a sad way, not in a dark way. Has probably contemplated suicide at some point in time, but never attempted it. Ran away from home when he was a teenager, ended up staying with extended family for a while. Sees no point in getting comfortable, getting used to a place or a routine. Perpetually unattached.”
Mike bit his lower lip and tapped on his laptop. There was something, something digging into his side. He looked over and saw Vivian, clad in a kelly green sweater, looking at him.
“Oh. Hi there.”
“What are you doing?”
“Learning, sitting in class, you know. Doin’ the school thing.” He had worked with Vivian on a project once, and she was the kind of girl who got in everyone’s business, all the time. Controlling, detail oriented.
“No, what are you typing?”
“Uhhh, this? It’s notes, you know. Because I’m paying attention in class.” Gosh, how did he become such a terrible liar? Really, now, it was pathetic.
“It doesn’t look like notes.” She looked exceedingly proud of herself, and also terrifying. “Maybe this is weird, but I’ve been watching you for the better part of an hour now. It looks as though you’re planning out a story of some sort. A visual story. Like a movie. I think it has a lot of promise.”
“What? A movie? I’m not making a movie. It’s a plan for a, um, webconic. A web, webcomic.”
“Oh.” She looked slightly crestfallen. “Well then. I’d just like to let you know that I think it could be a really great film. I’d make it with you, if you’d like.”
“Well, given that I’m not really making anything, there’s nothing for you to help with.”
“Mike.” She looked him in the eye and placed her hand on his arm.
“How do you know my name?”
“I just do. Don’t ask questions. I think that you have something real, something real and something with the potential to be amazing here, and I want to help you to this future. For you . And for me.”
“Well, that’s really nice and all, but I have to go right now.” He got up and grabbed his things.
“Class isn’t even over.”
“I have a doctor’s appointment. Syphillis. It’s very bad.”
“Oh.” She looked sad now, disappointed.
“Yeah, so see you around, right?”