My neighbor Ross might have bitten off more than he bargained for. He's the gent who, when I found myself in line with him at the HEB, asked what was up with me always making movies. I replied with some vague bromide about artistic expression or some such nonsense. I queried if he'd ever be so disposed to let me or someone I could vouch for shot in his yard or in his house, to which he responded, sans pregnant pause, “Fuck yeah!” Well, now a featured film production has descended on his home. And I have a front row seat of the affair, as I can see it all through my kitchen window. And it looks like he's dealing with it all quite well.
Carlos stopped by this afternoon to pick up a DVD. I stepped out onto the porch, and we looked at the activity across the street. I ran through the names of people he knew who were involved on this project, “The Dream Healer,” written and directed by Dora Pena. Several people we had worked with together were in the movie. (Hell, Carlos himself had auditioned for a role, and had been, inexplicably, turned down.) I told him that I had seen Gabi Walker earlier in the day when I was returning from some errands. Gabi is one of the greatest actors in this city. And she's just 12 or 13 or something. I'm awful judging how old children are. She and Carlos shared a scene in a film I directed called “Operation Hitman: Sacrificial Pets.” I adore the girl, and I'm afraid that by the time I get ready for my next major project, she'll be out of my price-range. This Dora Pena film, in which little Gabi stars, has all the promise to succeed.
Carlos pulled out his new camcorder and showed my scenes from his recent project, a trilogy of shorts (celebrating certain Valley (that's the “Rio Grande Valley”) sensibilities), entitled, “Chorts.” The scene I watched — as yet unedited — was shot in front of Pete's house. Carlos was directing, and he was also acting. The scene also featured Kareem, who always gives a solid performance. Also, I got to see Matthew Beales. Weeks back, I'd suggested that Carlos contact him. Ever since Matthew played a waiter (with nary a speaking line) in my short film, “I Do Adore Cream Corn,” I knew I wanted to work with him again. (Matthew is another one of these extraordinarily talented locals who I would never have encountered were it not for Nikki Young, of PrimaDonna Productions fame.) The footage looks quite amusing. In fact, I was on the phone today with Pete. He was running camera for much of the shoot and he said it was all hilarious. Especially Carlos' prat fall.
After looking at the video, me and Carlos headed across the street to Ross' house to check out the activity. Dora (or her people) had managed to wrangled a guy with two beautiful refurbished classic cars. One was more in the low-rider tradition. The other was more sedate in its appearance.
Jesse Borrego (a San Antonio actor who has had tremendous success in Hollywood, yet spends considerable time back here in his home town) had just arrived — he waved to the crew, and went inside to talk with Dora. His character lives in Ross' house. And as me and Carlos were admiring the cars, a young man walked by us.
Carlos cleared his throat.
“What? I'm not good enough for you now?”
The guy froze. He slowly turned around.
It was Matthew Beales. He had arrived to work as a lowly production assistant. He seemed puzzled to see Carlos on set.
“Erik lives across the street,” Carlos explained. “I was visiting him.”
I'm not sure if Matthew remembered me. I offered my hand and told him how great he had been as a waiter in my film. And I said he had done very well in Carlos' piece. Who could have thought such a handsome, polite, well-groomed young man could make such a great white trash petty criminal. “Yeah, the acting was good,” I reiterated. “But you can't argue with the power a gimmie cap and three-day stubble can bring to a role.”
“Don't forget the wife-beater I was wearing,” Matthew said with a grin.
I stopped by Urban-15 to tie up the remaining loose ends of the Josiah Fest. Also, I had a check coming my way.
It's sad to know I will be drifting away from that group of wonderful people. True, I'll be back with them in September to help promote the Manhattan Film Festival (though it's not a gig with a budget allocated for me, but I'll gladly volunteer however they might need me). Still, it's kind of sad, closing down that project. And, you know, it's funny that I left my video monitor and Beringer soundboard behind. A subconscious action which forces me to return.
When I was over there this afternoon, George, Cat, Amanda, Antonio, Rene, Herman, and Hector broke for lunch. We stood around the island counter in the middle of the huge industrial kitchen making and eating sandwiches. George and Cat asked for a round of applause for all the hard work I'd done. Rene handed me an envelope with the second half of my payment for managing the festival. And then George handed me a pound of Archer Farms organic fair trade espresso whole bean coffee. “Because we know how much you like coffee.” And Cat opened a cupboard and removed a large box. “And something to make it in.” It was an espresso machine. I guess they'd heard me grousing about how both my two espresso machines had fairly recently crapped out on me.
It was a very sweet thing to do. Who couldn't love these people?
There's something very wonderful about the world of non-profit arts organizations in this city. It's really quite easy to offer assistance and find yourself doing work with them. Sometimes this work pays. More often than not, it doesn't. But if I could just be able to work the occasional gig with a place like Urban-15, which in this case happened to have a budget for me, and allow that stipend to give me the freedom to work here or there for this group or that group pro bono, I think I could get into this lifestyle. The problem is the absolute lack of financial security. I know I'm not enjoying this rambling existence anyway near as much as I should.
I stopped by Gemini Ink today. They are the pre-eminent literary non-profit group in town. A really well-organized powerhouse in the San Antonio cultural community. And because I said “yes” when Jim Dawes, the chap who runs the free monthly writers' workshops, asked if I would be interested in running the workshop in July because he was off to New Mexico for vacation, I am now in possession of the key to the Gemini Ink facilities. I'm not a member (because I'm too poor), but, well, they're just nice, trusting people.
And then there's Bihl Haus Arts. Because I'm chummy with Deborah and because I try to make it to the Bihl Haus shows as often as I can, I'm now on some sort of committee. The Video and On-Line Media Committee … or something like that.
Later in the year, when NALIP has their Adelante Film Forum, I'll be there — certainly as a participant — but also as a volunteer photographer. And at the same time I'll be doing whatever Dar needs me to do as a volunteer for her first annual SAL film festival.
I've said it before, I'll said it again: those who decry the paucity of art in San Antonio are just fucking nuts! It's everywhere. And I'm quite embarrassed that because I've been so focused on running the Josiah Youth Media Festival and trying to round up teams for the 48 Hour Film Project, I have missed out on scads of CAM events. For those in need of a clue, CAM is Contemporary Arts Month. In July, San Antonio revels in contemporary art. The pretentious, the unexpected, the challenging, the brilliant, and the refreshingly naive god-awful crap — it's all trotted out for the city to see in July. The month is not yet over. I need to get out and about and check some of it out. So, San Antonians, stop bitching. If you're not swimming in art, your drowning in it. And if you find yourself doing neither, I'll just assume you live under a rock … most likely on the northside. So, take a chance, squirm on out into the sunlight and check it out.
I just went over to see what's going on with “The Dream Healer.” They're shooting some bright-lit night-time exteriors. Jesse, in character (and in wife-beater), is roaming around with a six-pack of Shiner Bock which has been tricked out to be “Alamo Beer” (Dora can expect a terse email from the lawyers representing “King of the Hill” and/or Mike Judge).
But it looks like they're doing just fine.
On a 48 Hour note, if you guys are thinking about signing on as a team, do it right NOW! We need to know if we're going to have to use one theater or two theaters August 14th at the Alamo Drafthouse. I'm serious here. Sign up this very second!
I'll get you some prizes, some swag, something … perhaps a gift certificate to a lingerie emporium or a sushi joint. Just, please, get it moving, folks!
And if you are concerned about augmenting your team or roping in actors, not to worry. Every Tuesday until the kick-off (Aug. 10th) we'll be having mixers at Ruta Maya Riverwalk Coffee House, at 107 East Martin, downtown San Antonio. Join us 6 – 9 pm!
It'll be fun.