Movie Shoot – Day 11

We’re in the flats. The desert stretches out in front of me, shimmery with heat – the hottest of hot. Little yellow pinprick buds are flowering on the cacti. Tiny springtime delights. Other than that, sparse bushes, dry, dry sand, even dryer distant rock mountains.

…Actor-Man is back on a Greyhound bus to L.A. And I’m getting some much needed me time. Today will be a pretty laid back day, doing catch-up scenes and transitions. The DP catches a great shot of me where I walk into the shot in a closeup and then walk off. Real gritty cowgirl desert renegade look. Like John Wayne – if John Wayne was Italian-Latin looking and a girl. A tough as rocks expression with the underlying pained angst of someone who’s ridden the desert sands too long and lived through hairy stuff.

I think of how lucky I am to have acting. It’s brought me closer to my own humanity, just the working of it day to day, year to year, discovering what makes me tick as a human, what are my griefs, triumphs, failures, what gets me, what angers me or drives me crazy, even – sometimes – what makes me kind. Right now I get to explore all that humanity in this movie I’ve written and created. Sometimes that gives me a lump in my throat and a fear in my belly. Can I live up to this?

I mean, what if the film sucks? What if the thing I’ve dreamt of forever, worked on forever, put all my blood, sweat, and tears into, all my own money into – my dreams and passion into – what if it just sucks? It’s a possibility. But you gotta risk sucking even for the smallest chance of being great. Play in the mud puddle, make ugly mudpies, get real dirty. Maybe fail a hundred times or a thousand times or a million times before the one success. Yeah, it’s worth it. I breathe deeply and dive back in.

On to a little monologue on top of a hill. We end up doing it right by the place the gunslingers were shooting the other day. Today, the only sound is the wind. And a crow once in a while. Well, and the planes. I swear our movie shoot could have been done in half the time if you don’t count all the seconds, minutes, and hours we waited for a wind gust to die down or a plane to go through. Out in nowhereland, planes have zoomed through every movie location we’ve been on, no matter how remote.

There’s no more Tony the caterer. He kept raising the rates every day or two. When I pointed it out, he went all Mafioso on me. So today we have Lou driving somewhere to find a place to buy lunch. She’s late – very late – two hours late. Where is she? Phones don’t work out here.

Almost three hours later, she drives back, breathless with stress. She got lost – three times. No navigation. She found a little Mexican restaurant somewhere. The quality of the food is kinda low – the bill is kinda high.

Then a sunset mini scene of me at a campfire eating my first gutted rattlesnake. I actually have to eat some of this liquid-latex-jello I’ve shaped into pale snake-chunk hunks. It tastes like I am poisoning myself. I swallow. Yes, I have to swallow. The camera is watching. At the very end of the bite, a sweet industrial little after-taste. Yum.

We are now done, except for one last day off. And then – the very last day of our principal shoot. It will be a doozy so I’d better rest up. But I can’t.

I’m headed back to L.A. I leave my crew nested at a new motel near the abandoned animal shelter we will use as our hospital. With Lou in charge of one of my credit cards for crew meals. Oh, I hope she is frugal as Scrooge.

I’m picking up medical equipment rentals – privacy screen, vital signs monitor, IV drip machine, other medical looking things, just because well, they look medical. Also, hospital gowns, trays, oxygen nose pieces, medical bracelets – the medical knick knacks that make a film look real. All this for about four hundred bucks, thanks to the poor filmmaker discount.

A nighttime drive in misty rain, back to the motel. For the first time in our shoot, us desert rats are going to be inside, filming in a civilized, though decrepit, building. It’s a tall order to fill – to turn this abandoned animal shelter into a hospital…

I’m supposed to get back in time to get the place ready tonight. But as the rain stops and I arrive, ready to unload equipment, I remember… pick up Actor-Man at the Greyhound Bus Station – for – the – last – time.