The making of FRIENDS (WITH BENEFITS) – part 6

First things first, reviews:

from IMDB

from the Seattle True Independent Film Festival  (click reviews about half way down page)

Now the BLOG…

One of the biggest mistakes most indie filmmakers make (aside from not being organized, which I’ll get to at another point) is in casting.  The wrong line delivery can make or break a film.  Like that.  A snap of the finger and you’ve lost the audience.

Ashley McGarry and I spent months casting Friends (with benefits).  And I don’t just mean the six leads.  I mean every supporting role.  We were looking for actors who would make the characters come alive, and when needed we adapted the script to fit the actor.  (If an actor really has trouble with a line, change it.  Move the words around.   Make them comfortable, make it real.  Don’t be married to every word.  Be married to the story you’re telling.)

So what makes a great actor, at least in my opinion?  Or at least what makes them great to work with?  Aside from talent, and fitting the role in question, which are obvious necessities.  I would say the most important aspect would be the ability to recall blocking.  The example I’ll give here is Alex Brown, who plays Owen in FWB.  Now I LOVE oners.  Long takes, that never seem to end.  Life is a oner.  At the end of a five minute take, I could go over to Alex, tell him to scratch his nose four minutes in when he says such-and-such a line, but do everything else the same, and he would nail it, perfectly.  I know, you’re thinking, well isn’t that the actor’s job?  Yes, it is.  But actors that precise are few and far between.  And when you’re not shooting a oner, when you want to match your close up to your wide shot, an actor whose blocking is off will drive you crazy in the editing room.  If they’re holding their drink with their right hand in the close up, and using their left in the wide, good luck cutting.  And granted the script supervisor should be aware of this, but some things do fall through the cracks.  Having an actor that remembers blocking, and makes the blocking look natural, is a god-send.

Next, what is the actor bringing to the role?  When casting, sometimes you just know.  An actor reads and there it is!  Your character jumps off the page and is suddenly alive.  Anne Petersen came in to read for the role of Alison.  That was it.  We had other readings scheduled that day, and I would never cancel on such short notice, but we knew at the end of her audition that Anne had the part.  We gave the all of the other scheduled actresses the opportunity to audition, but in the long run just ended up comparing everyone to Anne.  She brought a spark to the character that didn’t yet exist on the page.  She made her funny, charming.   She made her real.

The ability to ad lib in character.  Brendan Bradley who plays Brad and Jake Alexander who plays Jeff were brilliant at quick comic ad libs, many of which made it into the finished film.  This helps when an actor really knows their character.  The example I’ll give.  Last day of shooting, overnight in a bar.  We were all exhausted.  It was a scene where the four friends, Brad, Jeff, Alison and Shirley (played by Lynn Mancinelli) are wondering where Chloe and Owen are, though they secretly know.  The scene as written was just not working.  Ashley and I could not seem to fix it, no matter how hard we tried.  Finally I said to the actors, run with it.  Do the scene as if this were really happening in your life right now.  They added a few lines, which made all the difference in the world, and nailed it a few takes in, AS A ONER! 

That said, an actor also needs to understand that not every ad lib is brilliant, not every ad lib works.  And when the director says to return to the script, that what you need to do.  Read the Billy Zane blog from last year, but really, throwing a hissy fit when the director won’t let you ad lib, or do the scene your way, those are not the creatures you want on your movie set.  There’s no time to argue on an indie set.  And if you really have questions or issues with the script, take it up in rehearsal.  (I do a lot of rehearsals just for that reason.)  If you don’t, you’ve lost the opportunity, it’s time to do what the director says.  Honestly, yes , it’s a collaborative medium.  No doubt about it.  But ultimately, one person is at the helm.  Everyone needs to be onboard the same ship.  I can give an actor room for improvisation, but it is also completely in my right to take it away.  The actor must understand that, and not take it personally.  As director I need to have a view of the bigger picture, I know what I’m looking for.  Trust me, as I’m trusting you with our words.

Next: the actor that goes above and beyond.  We really wanted the band in the film to feel like a really band.  I so hate when people are playing guitar in movies and it’s painfully obvious they couldn’t strum a G-chord to save their life.  Margaret Laney, who plays Chloe, started taking guitar lessons from the moment she was cast.  And it really makes a difference.  I have had musician friends ask if Start Missing Everybody was a REAL band.  Bringing that sort of reality to the film should be a no-brainers, but it rarely is.  Margaret’s lessons really paid off beautifully.  (And while that’s not her playing guitar on the soundtrack, that is her singing.  And again, she worked to rock out her voice.  Making it real.)

Lastly, I love when an actor brings an air of mystery to the role.  When a look reveals so much more than a line.  When you can see into their soul.  And Lynn Mancinelli did that and so much more.  She infused Shirley with a depth that was not on the page.  She makes us want to know more about the character.  She makes us care.  She breaks our hearts with one look. 

Now working with actors.  Wow.  Everyone is different.  Some just come on set and are ready to rock.  Some need hand holding.  And of course other can be difficult.  I try to give the actor as much freedom as possible, taking care of any kinks during rehearsals. 

Sometimes an actor will ask to add an extra line at the beginning of a scene to get them into it.  Y’know, if you’re shooting digitally, and not way behind in time, let them do it.  It’s a few seconds.  They’re be happy, and you might even have a line you can use in the film.  If not, no big deal.  Helping the actor get into character is more important.

One of the most difficult aspects of working with actors is when you give direction, and it’s just not coming through.  It’s like your speaking a different language.  I usually try to pull the actor aside and bring them to another place.  Pull up something I know about them personally.  Help them find the moment.  (I certainly did this a lot with Jessica Bohl in You Are Alone.)

And of course, there are just actors that you want to shoot (again, see Zane blog).  And once film has rolled, and you’re committed, you need to make the set as comfortable as possible.  Not always a reality, but you do the best you can.  And hopefully the other actors are on your side, realizing you’re trying to make the best film possible.

We were SAGindie on this film, which meant we could use both union and non-union players.  Half of our six leads are union.  In terms of the quality of actors, I don’t know that I saw a difference in either ability or professionalism.  In fact the one supporting player who cancelled on us the morning of her first scene was SAG.  Luckily Ashley saw it coming, and we had the role re-cast within a few hours. 

It’s certainly an art form trying to juggle all the hats required to make a feature.  I listed them a few entries back.  A few things go without saying, don’t give roles to your friends or family members.   Unless they’re actors…like people who go out on auditions.  It’ll just take the audience out of your film.  Get everything in writing. Have those contracts signed.  If you have a nude scene, make sure the actor is comfortable with nudity.  How: ask them to take off their clothes on a callback.  (Obviously let them know ahead of time what will be expected.)  Otherwise you will get burnt when they decide (or their boyfriend/girlfriend decides for them) that it’s not a good idea…as you’re a week into shooting.

Also…back to SAG for a moment.  Lots of paperwork.  You need a great first or second AD to be on top of that.  Otherwise, you’ll find yourself in the position Ashley and I did, having to send our time sheets out to the actors to be signed after the production wrapped.  We thought these were being taken care of.  We were wrong.  Apparently flirting with extras was more important.  (Yeah, go back to part three of this series.)

Ultimately what I’m saying: take your time in casting.  Bring in your actors to read against each other.  Tape everything.  Watch the tapes over.  You wrote or found a script you love.  You will be spending a year or more working on this project.  Find people who will bring your vision to life, as Alex, Lynn, Jake, Margaret, Brendan and Anne did for Friends (with benefits).  To paraphrase a line from the film, they rock!  And in doing so, they make the film rock!

P.S. Reworked the FILMS page on the Gorman Bechard website.  Take a look by clicking HERE.  (If you’ve never seen my short film THE PRETTY GIRL, take 6 minutes.  I think you’ll like it.)

The making of FRIENDS (WITH BENEFITS) – part 2

Friends (with benefits) shot for a total of 18 days, beginning on April 18th, 2007.  So, we’ve really been editing it, tweaking it, playing with the song selection, and score, and titles, and color correction, for going on two years now.  (The original assembly was 125 minutes without end credits, the final cut runs 94 minutes complete.)  Doesn’t seem like that long has passed, but then again perhaps it does.  I think once you see the film, you’ll understand why so much time was spent on editing.  We tried to do something a little different here.  (The producers rep who ultimately took on the film called the editing “ground breaking.”  And while I don’t know about that, we’ll certainly take the compliment!)

           

As a novelist (my website, GormanBechard.com has all the info you could possibly need on that), I thought we’d bring a little of that feel to the film, thus in my mind it’s “a novel with moving pictures.”  While all films on DVD are broken into “chapters” I thought we’d take that one step further and actually break the film down into real chapters.  But no one wants to watch a book.  So, how to make it move fast . . . real fast? 

 

Well, originally I wanted the film, especially the dialog, to movie at a breakneck speed, like “His Girl, Friday.”  But there are two truisms in film.  The one that fits here is, and I’m paraphrasing: “There’s the film you write, the film you shoot, and the film you edit.”  Anyone who’s ever directed a film knows they are three very separate beasts, each with a mind of their own.

 

So, while that breakneck pace seemed great in concept (and even in rehearsals), the realities of casting and filming got in the way.  Until editing, that is.  We threw out the rule book.  And decided that we would not allow the audience time to blink (at least for a part of the film…when need be, as a director I am a big believer in giving the performances room to breathe.)  

 

(FYI: I never used the rule book when writing my novels, hell, I flunked English 101 in college, and likewise, for any of you who’ve seen my last feature YOU ARE ALONE, you know I don’t “do” the “master/over-shoulder/over-shoulder reverse” coverage.  It’s boring, it’s lazy, it shows not one iota of originality or belief in your script, or your ability as a director…it’s movie-of-the-week.  Really, just put a bullet in my head and shoot me now.  So, yeah, I certainly wasn’t going to start following the rules now.)

 

The Friends (with benefits) secret weapon?  Split screens.  If two stories were happening concurrently, why not show them?  Adjust the timing here and there, and let the characters on the right answer the characters on the left.  It was just an experiment at first.  Tried it in one bar scene where two male characters are conversing about the same subject as two female characters.  What do you know?  It clicked.  It worked.  Jokes came faster.  You didn’t have time to blink and you were laughing again.  Or in a few cases, the inherent sadness of a friendship perhaps destroyed was given an even greater emotional impact.

 

Watching and using the split screens, co-editor Ashley McGarry and I just knew in our guts this was right for the film. 

 

And that’s what it comes down to for me.  That gut feeling.  Whether holding on someone’s expression for a beat longer than you might think necessary, because in reality sometimes we need that extra moment of reflection.  Or inserting a list of “rules” as a text scroll to make a scene go where it needed it to go.  Or dozens of other little examples in this film.  (Some big examples: cutting a huge emotional scene down to one line because I felt the rest made one character just a hair less likable, cutting scenes because I found an actors blocking distracting, sacrificing a few amazing shots that ultimately did nothing to move the story along, or reducing characters down to a few lines because either the story wasn’t really about them, or I felt their performance distracting.)  You go with your gut.  In the end, as director, it’s your name signed at the bottom of the canvas.  And after a horrible bigger-budget filmmaking experience back in 2002 (read the blog entry titled “Just say no to Billy Zane” from September 2008), I promised myself I would never again sign my name to a film or book I wasn’t proud of. 

 

Well, I’m ready to sign my name to Friends (with benefits).  Come see it at the Seattle True Independent Film Festival on June 12th, and you’ll see why.

 

P.S. An aside.  OK…I did not sign my name to my last novel UNWOUND.  It was published under the pseudonym Jonathan Baine.  But not because I wasn’t proud of the book.  I actually love the book.  The name change was quite simply to trick the computers at Barnes & Noble.  See, the big chains, like B&N, preorder copies of your new book based upon the sales of your last book.  Now, most of my novels have had a first printing of between 5,000 and 20,000 copies.  The first printing for UNWOUND was going to be 146,000 copies. Thus the publisher wanted the B&Ns of the world to order a lot more than what they ordered and sold of my previous titles.  Smile.  You just learned something about the publishing business.

List of Extras on the PSYCHOS IN LOVE dvd…

 Just wanted to update everyone on the long awaited US DVD release of my film PSYCHOS IN LOVE. Besides this being a pristine and beautiful transfer of the film, this DVD is LOADED (scream “LOADED” from the rooftops) with extras.

Here is the complete list:

Feature Commentary with Gorman Bechard (from 2009)
Feature Commentary with Gorman Bechard and Carmine Capobianco (from 2005)
Original Trailer
Alternate Opening
Making Psychos in Love
Photo Gallery (make that a HUGE photo gallery)
Extended Scenes
Highlights from Psychos in Love: The Stageplay

As well as three of my short films:
Bartholomew the Strangler, Short Film (1983)
The Only Take, Short Film (1983)
Objects in the Mirror are Further Than They Appear, Short Film (2003)

Trailers from my last two features:
You Are Alone, Trailer (2005)
Friends with Benefits, Trailer (2009)

And a very cool video promo for my last novel:
Unwound, Promo (2007)

Not bad for under twenty bucks!

Pre-Order the film HERE
Visit the offical PSYCHOS IN LOVE website HERE
And please remember: grapes do kill people, because we kill people who eat grapes!
Original promo card.
Original promo card.

Book outweighs Blog, Blog fills up Paper, Paper covers Rock…

Sorry…been working on the new novel, so blogging takes a back seat.

However, there is a half hour interview with me which you can watch by clicking HERE.

And you can pre-order your jam-packed-with-extras version of the PSYCHOS IN LOVE dvd by clicking HERE.  The trailer for PSYCHOS is on the film’s FACEBOOK FAN PAGE.

More soon…

pil-mb-dvd-cover-01-small

Psychos In Love

Forgot to mention, my crazy cult horror comedy from 1986 — PSYCHOS IN LOVE — is about to get a top notch dvd release from Media-Blasters. Tons of extras, including two commentaries (one I’m doing now, and one from a few years back with me and Carmine). a behind-the-scenes, the original trailer, a huge photo gallery, trailers for my two most recent films (You Are Alone and Friends With Benefits), a promo video I did for my last book UNWOUND (written under the pseudonym Jonathan Baine), and two shorts, one old (The Only Take) and the last short I made (Objects In The Mirror Are Further Than They Appear)…and perhaps even a few other suprises.

Not to mention, this will be a new transfer off the original film…so it should look pristine!

It’ll be available on March 31, 2009…and you can pre-order your copy of the PSYCHOS IN LOVE dvd by clicking HERE!

originalvideoboxcover

Best music of 2008

To take a quick reprieve from dogs and assholes…

A top ten list of sorts.  Not from either field which I call home (films, novels) but from my truest passion, music.  The best albums of 2008, in unequivocal order.  Don’t argue, you know my tastes, you know where I stand, just open your Amazon account and order those not in your collection.  It’ll be the best hundred bucks you’ve spent in a long while.

#1 – Delta Spirit – “Ode to Sunshine” – Hands down the one masterpiece of 2008, the best cd by the best new band.  Eleven tracks that evoke all things good in rock n roll from the Replacements to the Beatles, yet manage to sound original at the same time. Start with “People C’mon” or “Children,” but really there isn’t a weak or false beat on this cd.  Fucking amazing!

#2 – Paul Westerberg – “49” – a glorious mess, one never ending 43-plus minute track comprised of PW’s best work since “Stereo/Mono.”  Songs, clips, covers, noise, it’s a stream of unconsciousness from the greatest songwriter of our time.  Not for everyone, because most people won’t get it or have the patience, but if you do the rewards are never ending.

#3 – The Rural Alberta Advantage – “Hometowns” – I gave this album a shot because of a review that simply read “In the aeroplane over Alberta.”  And while not in the same league of the most perfect piece of art ever created (yes, you read that right), “Hometowns” is an instant indie noise-pop classic, loose strumming, twangs, all off-kilter and remarkably catchy.  Download “Edmonton” and you’ll be sold.

#4 – Bon Iver – “For Emma, Forever Ago” – Nine hauntingly beautiful tracks that bring to mind Nick Drake or perhaps very early Elliott Smith.  As fragile as a teenager’s heart, Justin Vernon (who essentially IS Bon Iver) has a voice that you will never forget.  Listen to the album’s final track “Re: Stacks,” a better song has not been released this year.

#5 – Langhorne Slim – “Langhorne Slim” – Another voice unlike no other, Langhorne Slim yelps and croons as if he were having way too much fun playing these songs. He picks his guitar like the 80-year-old blind man who invented the blues.  There’s a lot to like here, especially “Hummingbird,” one of the greatest songs ever written about having no choice but to move on from a relationship that just couldn’t work no matter how hard either partner tried.  It’s heartbreakingly real and so sadly beautiful. You’ll want to give Langhorne a hug.

#6 – Santogold – “Santogold” – This year’s M.I.A., poppy, bordering on the danceable, and usually nothing I would ever listen to if it weren’t so damn infectious.  Download “Lights Out” and see if it doesn’t remind you of the greatest 80s pop cd you never heard,

#7 – The Gaslight Anthem – “The 59 Sound” – if Bruce Springsteen and Paul Westerberg had a kid, this Jersey band would be it. Great, anthem-like rock n roll.  Start with the title track and you won’t let go.  And don’t let the crap emo bands they tour with turn you off.  These guys are the real thing.  (They should be touring with Wilco.)

#8 – Coldplay – “Viva La Vida” – This is not your grandfather’s Coldplay.  First off they suddenly discovered guitars, and then they discovered how to rock.  None of the wimpy ballad crap, the last four songs (starting with the title track) are as strong as any you’ll hear on almost any cd this year (except for perhaps the first three on this list).  If you’ve never liked Coldplay (I detest their other cds), now is the time to give them a shot.

And that’s my list.  Only 8 cds…there are certainly a few worthy of honorable mentions: Matthew Ryan’s “Matthew Ryan vs. Silver State,” Nada Surf’s “Lucky,’’ Crooked Fingers’ “Forfeit/Fortune,” and Mudcrutch’s self-titled cd.  But overall it was a ridiculously disappointing year, when even the usual culprits (Lucinda Williams, Ryan Adams, Conor Oberst, The Hold Steady) bored me to tears.

I will give Ryan Adams kudos for the tune “Magick,” which proved the boy knows how to rock, I just wish he’d stop whining and stop writing the same song over and over again (really the new cd sounds like bad outtakes from last year’s far superior “Easy Tiger”).  Ryan it’s okay to sound like the Replacements, it’s what you do best. 

As for the worst cd of the year.  Wow, this is so easy; I don’t even have to think about it.  It’s a cd that epitomizes all that is bad about rock music and the self-proclaimed messiah critics on the web.  Gutless, sounding like a group of 8-year-olds with child-sized instruments trying to play rock n roll, the album in question is the self-titled debut from Vampire Weekend.  Wimpy, wimpy, wimpy.  Really, if you like Vampire Weekend put out an A.P.B. on your balls, because they have seriously gone missing.

That’s it for me.  I can only hope for a better 2009, though I’m ending on a Springsteen high.  Not the Boss, but my new pup.  (See photo below).  He was one of the wild packs of hounds menacing the streets of Tennessee.  We got him through Paws4Rescue.org.  Everything about this organization is top notch and professional.  (And if you’ve been reading this blog you know the issues I’ve had with other so-called rescue groups.)  Well, these guys are the real thing.  Donate, get your next pup from them, and/or recommend them to a friend: www.Paws4Rescue.org.

In the mean time, and while you’re surfing the web, check out the updated site for our new movie FRIENDS (WITH BENEFITS): www.FWBmovie.com  

Then order a copy of the YOU ARE ALONE dvd: www.YouAreAlone.com

And read a free short story on my site: www.GormanBechard.com

 

Now I close with another top ten list, written by one of my closest friends, Matt Bialer.  I finished my list without seeing his, and visa-versa.  I present his now, unedited, and knowing there’ll be plenty to argue about:

 

 

Top 10 CD from Matthew Bialer

No order: titus andronicus: the Airing of Grievances.  I’ll say. One big drunken, sloppy Jersey fuck you to all.  If you like beer and more beer, great songs, the Clash, Pogues, Bruce, Mekons….      

The Gaslight Anthem: the ’59 Sound.   Great anthemic rock that is like Bruce meets the Clash.  It is what rock n roll is all about.  Has balls and evokes a lot of rock n roll iconic shit. 

Land of Talk: Some are Lakes.  I love Liz Powell’s voice and songs.  Just great stuff.  Kind of evokes girl grunge, I suppose. 

Delta Spirit: Great record. And no Gorman, it’s not Replacements derived.  It’s like Arcade Fire meets the Zombies. 

Frightened Rabbit: the Midnight Organ Fight.  Great Scot Pop.  If you like Orange Juice, teenage Fanclub, the Twilight Sad.  

Tapes ‘n Tapes: Walk it Off.  Fuck everyone who dissed this sophmore effort. Fuck you all. I like it and I still play it.  And it’s better than most of Pitchfork’s top ten including Fleet Foxes, No Age and Deerhunter (some great songs but a little filler there, ey?)

Guns n Roses: Chinese Democracy.  Because I like bands with “n” in the middle and because Axl Rose on a bad day (day? Bad 15 years, I guess) can still kick a lot of bands asses that critics swoon over.  

A.A. Bondy: American Hearts. Kind of in the same spirit of Deertick.  Mellow. Acoustic. But tough. The singer was the main dude from Verbena.  Really good.

Birdmonster: From the Mountain to the Sea. Another great record that Pitchfork really shit on. Well I think this record is superb. For fans of Wilco, Dylan, great roots rock.  I love this record.

Overpraised records: Vampire Weekend.  I admit to tapping my foot a bit but not a great band.  Also, they are like the second coming of Haircut One Hundred down to the preppy sweaters.  And where are Haircut One Hundred now?? Exactly.  And Haircut were better and even had more balls (gumball sized, as opposed to none).  

Fleet Foxes: something fey and pretty here but I don’t get the critics going nuts over them. A few good songs but not terribly exciting to me.

No Age: I like some of this but anyone who plays this over and over and over again has to be suspected of brain damage.  I wish they had more “songs” here but there is talent. 

TV On the Radio: don’t get them. And what is this horseshit that they “speak for the times”.  Yeah, for the times bumming around in a cafe in Williamsburg. 

I wanted to like the new Hold Steady because I like them but this new one is weak to me, despite a few good songs. 

The Walkmen.  The guy is like Englebert Humperdink fronting a wedding band on only its “rock out” numbers.

 

Springsteen
Springsteen

 

 

Kilgore Trout (1995 – 2008) R.I.P.

A tumor the size of a grapefruit.  I saw it on the x-ray, filling the space between his liver, his spleen, and his stomach.  Perhaps encroaching on his lungs as well.  Suffocating Kilgore Trout  from the inside out.

At first we thought it was a reaction to Previcox.  A drug given to him just about four weeks ago to help with his hips.  He was having the worst time walking, this glorious pup who would jump, would bounce, like on a trampoline whenever he saw me. 

(watch the clip that now opens my website as proof…it’s 45 seconds that will make you smile.)

At first the drug did wonders, until he stopped eating, starting vomiting.  Side effects all, so many serious side effects.  How could this fucking killer pill be on the market? 

I am angry.  I am seething.  I know Previcox did not kill my dog, but it certainly didn’t help there in the end.  A shot of Pepcid did for a while.  But still the appetite nowhere near the vacuum cleaner-like enthusiasm with which he used to eat.  Less and less every day.  And the vomiting returned.  Bile, from his mostly empty stomach. 

More Pepcid.  But it didn’t seem to help this time.  Finally a trip to the vet.  You could see it in her face as she checked him stomach.  Perhaps we should get him x-rayed…now.  The normally busy hospital would take us NOW.

So I dropped my wife at home so she could tend to our other dog, and drove Kilgore down to Central Hospital in New Haven.  It was quick.  He sat by my feet afterwards as I waited on word.  The receptionist said the vet wanted to speak with me.  She gave me the news.  None of it good. 

How long does he have? I asked.  A few days, was the response.  Or perhaps to the beginning of next week.  (This was a Thursday.)  The x-ray technician showed me the tumor.  It was massive.  All encompassing.  There was nothing to do but make him comfortable during his last few days.

But a small meal of Kentucky Fried Chicken pulled from a breast was all he could manage.  A few strips of it really.  And a little water to follow.  That would be his last meal.  My dog who could eat anything and everything, from a full edition of the Sunday New York Times to financial magazines (he especially loved to “tear into” MONEY and KIPLINGER’S) to, well…anything he could find in the yard., gross or not. 

Whenever I put a 12-pack of beer away, he’d wait patiently, then snatch the empty box as I pulled out the last beer and put it into the fridge.  Then he’d play keep-away with it, or tug-of war.  Or he’d lie right down and start ripping it to confetti. He especially loved Rolling Rock boxes.

But he could eat anything and everything, always without repercussion.  Now, nothing…

He walked around on his own on Friday.  Venturing out into the yard, up on the couch with a little help.  He wagged his tail, but mostly slept a lot.

That night, Friday, what would be his last night (october 24), I slept on the couch with Mr. Trout.  Well, he slept on the couch.  I was mostly on the coffee table, but that was ok.  He rested his chin on my leg, I scratched him behind his ear.

My wife and I kept asking anyone we knew…how would we know when it was time to put him to rest?  Well, he told us.

Kilgore got up twice that night, went out into the yard, slowly, but surely.  But then came the morning.  Almost two days now without food or water.  And when it came time for him to go outside, he made it through the door, but had to lie down after only a few steps.  He couldn’t get up.  We knew…

We had already made an appointment at the vet for Saturday morning.  Originally for a check up to see if there was anything else we could do.  But now I needed to call them, and change the appointment until late in the day.  The last appointment of the day.

He couldn’t really walk, so I carried my friend out to my Jeep and laid him down in the back.  And, the three of us took his final ride.  My wife sat in the back with him, as I went into the vet office to make sure everything was ready.  Then I carried him in and laid him on the table. 

After a while the vet came in an asked if we were ready.  No, how could anyone ever be ready?  But I knew he was in pain, I knew he was so tired, and I certainly didn’t want that thing inside of him to burst.

He lay, as he always did at night, two paws straight out in front, his chin resting perfectly centered between them.  I squatted down so that I was nose-to-nose with my friend.  He never took his eyes off me as the doctor administered the drug that would put him to sleep.

When his eyes finally closed, I kissed his head. Something he so hated until a few weeks ago.  I’d always do it at night, and he rub at the top of his head with his paws as if I’d given him cooties, or something.  It was a ritual.  But he was wagging tail.  And in my heart I always believed he was perhaps embarrassed in front of the other dogs, like why was I kissing his head in public?

But this would be the last time I’d get to kiss the top of Kilgore’s head. 

Goodnight, my sweet prince, perhaps one day we’ll meet up on the other side.

(i.miss.you.)

(so.fucking.much.)

in his spot...
in his spot...

Just say NO to Billy Zane

OK…locked the cut of FWB.  Sent it off to Sundance.  Fingers crossed.  Still need to work more on the score, need to do the sound mix, tweak the color…(it never ends…making a film is like having a child)

Speaking of children…there’s been a producer trying to turn my last book UNWOUND into a feature for some time now.  And it looked like it was finally going to happen.  A lot of Canadian tax credit funding crap…and with a decent leading lady on board.  The only hitch: the leading man.  Now I  know how difficult it is to make a featyre, especially on a limited budget, so I try to remain open to casting possibilities.  When the list of potential leading men was presented to me, I approved all but one, Billy Zane.

Why?  Well, I directed Zane in my film THE KISS.  Every day (EVERY FUCKING DAY) he’d show up on set with his scenes completely rewritten.  I’m not talking about a few line changes here and there.  I’m saying nothing remained of the old scene, not even its intent.  Instead there were pages of mind-numbingly dumb dialog which had nothing to do with the story we were trying to tell.  When I would explain to Zane that I appreciated his effort, but we were shooting the scene as written, and that he had over a month to address any potential problems he might have had with the script, he’d sulk, he’d moan, and our spineless producer would give in.

When I’d try to explain to Zane that the caps and hats he insisted on wearing in EVERY FUCKING SCENE looked silly at best, and gay at worst (not that there’s anything wrong with that, except that the character he was playing was not gay), he’d throw another mini-tantrum and refuse to take it off.

Twice on set I had to be restrained from lunging at him.  Not that to beat the living crap out of him would have done anything other than get me fired.  Instead I stood back and allowed him and the producer to destroy my film.

So when the producer of UNWOUND finally admitted that Zane would be the one she could get and that her backers would approve, I said NO.  The check wasn’t worth it.  I wasn’t going back in time.  I had made YOU ARE ALONE and now FRIENDS (WITH BENEFITS) to take the vile taste of THE KISS out of my mouth.  (When I signed on for THE KISS I thought I was making a cool romantic drama with Eliza Dushku and Terence Stamp.  I didn’t realize that the producer was just in fact making a $3 million demo reel for his wife…but that’s another rant.)

Life is too short to deal with assholes.  A good rule to live by.

And I never wanted to have real kids.