Wednesday, June 17, 2009


Possibly part of something larger, we'll see.

Working title.


“I know it’s not fucking Ridley Scott here.” Darren’s fingers fluttered in that arachnoid sign language from planet Film. “But I need more terror, more… Just imagine you’re out of weed, or the Salvia shadow-monster is coming after you again.”

“Uh, ok, man. It’s just kind of hard to be frightened without some scary shit like, ‘right there’, you know?” Joe’s glazed eyes, droopy with psychoactive, were obstacle enough to squeeze convincing fear out of, acting skills and motivation aside. Perhaps fear could be brushed on in After Effects. It seemed they could do anything in After Effects nowadays. Dump in a script and some Chinese kids, bake a few hours, out popped a DVD.
“Fuck, I told him not to burn before the shoot,” Darren made the coffee-grinder-in-the-throat sound, a sound he might make at misbehaving toddlers, if he’d had kids. Valerie, who’d been leaning against a cardboard-box version of the Nostromo, uncrossed her thin arms, and rolled her differently colored eyelashes in sympathy.

“Focus, Joe.” She applied some extra “action grime” charcoal make up with a Q-Tip to Joe’s cheek with the grace of a calligraphy artist polishing a turd, giving Joe’s soon to be eviscerated character whatever believability hand-up she could. Darren and Valerie had for a time been sort of going out, as much as two young Artists can be said to be dating. Most of the time it felt more like a co-invasion: exotic entities that happen to be tentatively occupying each other’s space, exchanging culture, sometimes bodily fluids.

“Action,” no zing in it. Darren had given up on the pretentious hand motions as well by that point. The big-auteur-idea filmmaking session had evaporated down to complete left brain level, pure technicality of just getting the damn thing to work.

Two more takes, a few hundred more gigs of less than award winning performance. Darren tried rubbing the fail of it all from his eyes, failed, “I think I need a smoke. Ok one more, what the hell, right?” Valerie crossed to the other side of the set, getting a bit closer to the radioactive expanse of the green screen.
“Watch the fill lights, Vic, don’t want to have to hand-strain Herr protagonist out of the footage. Ok, let’s go. Action.”

For the thirty-seventh time, Joe clutched his space marine-black spray painted AR-15 airsoft rifle like a teddy bear, erratically turning left and right.
“Sergeant? Sarge? Where the fuck is everyone?” Darren zoomed the camera in like the extending, saliva-drizzling tongue of some Bosch nightmare creature. Joe whipped around on the count of five. Counting out fucking loud. Fix it in post.

Darren awaited Joe’s look of stoned bedazzlement that was supposed to pass for raw deep-space horror. That retarded fucking “O” of the lips. That black hole. That zero that was Darren’s chance of making it into a film festival. That gaping perforation in the hull of this film that threatened to suck the cargo and the crew out, exhale it away like so much pot smoke into the vast emptiness of weed-space. Where no one can hear you scream but the blurry UFOs and little green men that inhabit that smoky void in the American consciousness.
Which was why Darren was sure there was a problem with the LCD screen when he saw something approximating real fear or at least shock happen on Joe’s face. Darren confirmed it with his own eyes then swallowed the exclamation of relief crawling up his throat. Sweat beaded on his lip as he willed his body to perfect stillness, the red eyed recording camera like a rare, infinitely valuable, and incredibly dangerous species.

“…And cut, holy Chris Cunningham’s nipples, cut!” Darren leapt several feet into the air, nearly knocking the tripod over.

“Mmm, nipples…” Joe seemed stuck in the scene, his eyeballs showing ivory all around, jaw snapped off its hinges or something.

“Nipples, for the win.” Darren, completely absorbed by Joe’s recent abduction by skill, turned in time to catch Valerie’s nipples; wine colored Martians perched atop modest twin arcologies on the lunar white surface. “Thank me by kindly driving us to the nearest Subway, I’m starving,” she pulled her clever-ass t-shirt down and gathered her make up paraphernalia back into a handbag made out of a piece of jump rope and stitched velvet.

“What- The fuck! Val, was that entirely necessary?” Darren mentally punched himself as question sputtered past his tongue, he could almost taste the stupid. Why did he say that? Joe was already packing green nuggets into his porto-pipe, pulling out a lighter, holding the weed out like an offering. A ritual welcome from weed-space. We come in peace. Darren ignored it, turned back to Valerie.

“Hey, ‘that’s a wrap’, right? Get over it, Queen Victoria.” She rolled her eyes and hop-tripped her way across cardboard props, a wind machine, and puddled costumes littering the floor.

“Yeah. Come on Joe, let’s go. Oh, good work there, man. Stellar.” Darren began unscrewing the camera so they could review the footage over dinner, but stopped halfway through. He told himself that it would just be too much ponderous trouble to bring it, but somewhere he knew that he didn’t really want to see the scene again. Afraid, even.


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