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Associate Producer Credit
Sean knocked on Icon’s apartment door. In his hand he held a rolled-up poster. For some reason, for the first time ever, he felt a tad bit nervous knocking on this door. Had Mike been right? Did Icon like him? Would she go out with him? Would they be compatible? Would this little waif be the one seated beside him in his perfectly restored 1952 Corvette convertible as they cruised down PCH from their Malibu beach house on their way to the Grammy awards ceremony where he had been nominated in nearly every category?
Icon opened the door and said, “Hi.”
“Hey!” said Sean, a little too loudly, “How’s it going?”
She smiled and said, “Actually it’s pretty good.” Then she turned and pointed to the living room full of film equipment. There was hardly room to walk in with all of the film gear stuffed into the place.
“Whoa!” Sean called out as he entered the apartment, “Dude, I didn’t know that you were getting that much stuff! You know what it looks like? It looks like one of those behind-the-scenes things you see on dvds. This is amazing!”
“Yeah, I’m pretty happy,” said Icon. And it was pretty obvious that she was.
“Holy Hell, what’s in this gigantic case? Can you even lift this? Are you gonna need to hire five huge guys just to carry this case around for you?”
“That is an Arriflex camera,” said Icon
“An air what?”
“Arriflex. It’s a professional film camera.”
“Well the case is friggin’ huge,” said Sean.
He held out the rolled-up poster and said, “Hey, this is for you. It’s kind of a housewarming gift. Not that your house ain’t warm. But all of this stuff makes it like a new place. So, I got you this.”
Icon took the poster from his hand and unrolled it. The poster was simply text. Giant, bold, red text which proclaimed: I DESERVE TO BE FAMOUS, DAMMIT!
“One of my roommates works at a copy shop — well, he did until a few days ago when he got fired — and he made a few of those for me. Cool, huh?”
Icon nodded. “That’s sweet, thank you.”
The word ‘sweet’ caught Sean’s attention. A girl doesn’t use that kind of language unless she’s hot for you. He was sure of that.
Icon walked over to her desk and pulled out a roll of clear tape. “Where should we hang it?” she said.
“I’d go with right over your computer. That way it’s staring you right in the face every time that you go and edit something: ‘I DESERVE TO BE FAMOUS, DAMMIT!’”
“Sounds good,” said Icon. And the two of them used the clear tape to mount the poster on the wall above her computer workstation.
“Looks good,” said Sean, “Looks right. Looks like someone here deserves to be famous… dammit!”
“And speaking of that,” began Sean, “I’m going back over to Mike’s place in Encino tonight to record some more brilliantly awesome music. And I was thinking that you usually hear all of this stuff when it’s done, but maybe you’d want to come listen while I’m recording.”
Icon smiled and blushed, “Sure.”
“Great. You’ll get to see what I do. Plus, all the biggest rock stars have cute girls hanging out in the studio with them, so it’ll make me feel like a rock star having you there.”
Icon simply smiled.
“Oh my,” said Icon as she stepped out of his car, Ramona, and looked out at the spectacular view from Mike’s driveway.
“I told you!” said Sean, “Now is that an album cover or is that an album cover?”
Icon stared out at the grid-work of lights sprawled out below them. Sean had convinced her to bring a camera with her for this very reason, and she had brought along her best digital camera: a high-end DSLR, the type of camera which would take not only amazing still photos but which independent filmmakers the world over were using to shoot their film-like video.
“Or,” said Sean, “Is it an album cover?”
Icon simply stared, breathless. After several silent moments she said calmly “It’s man-made eternity.”
As Sean took the two trips to carry his equipment into the shack, Icon stood where she was, seemingly hypnotized by the view which she was beholding.
It was beautiful.
Sean had set up the equipment in Mike’s living room but had yet to start recording when Mike brought in beers for the three of them. There was something different about Mike’s demeanor. Ordinarily he seemed to be a pretty somber sort of guy but today he seemed happy and there seemed to be a bit of a spring in his step.
As Mike handed a beer to Icon he said, “Well it’s good to finally meet you young lady. This guy here has told me a lot about you.”
Sean protested, “I haven’t told you a lot. I don’t know a lot, so how could I have told you a lot? That just makes no sense.”
“Whatever you say, Sean,” said Mike, “Anyway, Icon, what I’ve heard about you so far is good. Very good indeed.”
“Thanks,” said Icon meekly.
Mike pointed at Icon’s camera and continued, “So is that one of these ‘can-do-everything’ cameras that I’ve been hearing so much about?”
Icon replied, “It’s a DSLR.”
“And that’s one that you shoot independent movies on?”
“Yes. A lot of people use these.”
“Uh huh,” said Mike, “And Sean here tells me that you are pretty skilled with a camera.”
“I don’t know about that.”
“Yes you do. Yes you do.”
Sean piped up, “Jeez Mike, ease up. I also told you that she’s kind of shy.”
“Which is part of what tells me that she’s good with that camera. Shy people are always more artistic than those who can’t keep their damned mouths shut.”
“Hey!” objected Sean.
“So young lady, how would you feel about shooting a vampire movie?”
Sean and Icon both said in unison, “What?”
Mike laughed. “Well Sean, I thought a lot about what you said the other day. I’ve got the script. I’ve got a location. And if I don’t have to pay for film stock and it’ll still look all right, then hell, why shouldn’t I do it?”
Sean said, “Exactly!”
“So, I called up that idiot who wanted to buy that little plastic statue from me for $10,000, and I sold it to him…”
“Just like the Dolly Buddhist dude would have done!” interjected Sean.
“The Dalai Lama. And I don’t think the Dalai Lama would do that. But anyway, that little statue wasn’t the only piece of crap — oh excuse me — memorabilia that I had from those days. I’ve got all kinds of stuff from those old movies. So I sold a bunch of it to him: some 1970s movie props, some posters, a couple of my original shooting scripts.”
Mike then reached behind the couch, seemingly searching for something. He said, “One thing that I didn’t sell him. Or actually two things that I didn’t sell him…” And he pulled out two foot-long, sharpened wooden stakes. “If we’re shooting a vampire movie we need to have stakes!”
“Whoa!” exclaimed Sean, “Way cool!”
“Yeah,” said Mike, “They’re props, of course. The two stakes look basically identical but one of them is solid and looks good for closeups, the other…” he trailed off and at this point took the prop stake and stabbed himself in the chest, the phony prop stake giving the illusion that it had penetrated his chest by a few inches “…is retractable!”
“Cool! Let me see?” called out Sean as he grabbed the stake from Mike and stabbed himself in the chest, calling out a dramatic “Aaaaaaargh!”
Mike said, “The way it works is the top half of the stake slides inside the bottom half of the stake. It’s the same thing they do with swords in movies or in plays. It makes it look like the thing is going about six inches right into a person.”
Sean kept repeatedly stabbing himself, “Eeeeeee! Ooooooo! Aaaaaaargh!”
“You want to make sure,” said Mike as Sean loudly stabbed himself, “that you don’t get those two stakes mixed up. But anyway, that’s what I did. Sold that idiot all kinds of useless junk.”
Icon said softly, “That’s great, Mike.”
“Yeah. It’s also the first time I’ve had any real money in a few decades. So, what do you say there Icon? You’ve got that camera. You bring it and shoot for me. I’ll pay you — not a lot, but a little. And we’ll make a movie. What do you say?”
“Um, sure. I’d love to” she replied.
“That way you’ll have a professional credit too. Always a good thing when building your career. This is one thing that I know.”
“That’s cool,” Said Sean, “Oh, but wait. What about me?”
“What about you?”
“Well what can I do on this movie? I have to do something on this movie. It was my idea to get you to do it. I should be able to do something. I should have some fancy title.”
Mike replied, “You can help me out if you want. There’s a ton of work to be done.”
“Can I be a producer?” Sean asked.
“No,” Mike said, “But, how about ‘associate producer?’”
“Cool! Yeah! Associate Producer! I love it,” said Sean as he continued stabbing himself in the chest.
There was an obvious pleasant feeling in the air as Sean went about recording tracks in the darkened living room of the shack with the million-dollar view. This was especially nice considering that two of the three people in the room were the types who tended toward the less pleasant feelings. In fact if Sean had to guess, he would imagine that Mike had been in a state of depression longer than Sean had been alive.
Sean’s guitar cut through the night and as he played and recorded Icon snapped some candid photos. Mike sat smoking in this chair and despite the darkness of the room he could see the electricity that was passing between the two young people. Nothing could have been more obvious with or without lights. And Mike, in this rare up mood, wondered for the first time in years, if maybe he too might yet find someone.
As Sean packed up his equipment, Icon went outside to take photos of the view before they left. The shack sat on a flat outcropping near the top of the hillside, which meant that after the driveway a cliff dropped off to the next lot which was far below. It was an excellent spot for photography as there were no obstructions, just a flat horizon line, beyond which were the millions of sparkling lights of the Valley below.
Icon clicked away at image after image, feeling good in the certainty that among the shots would be something fantastic.
After a time, she dropped the camera to her side. She took a deep breath of the night air and stared out at the view.
As Icon stood gazing out, Sean walked over and joined her. “Can’t believe how awesome it is, can you?”
“Mike said that his brother owns this and lets him stay here for free. And the dude even won’t sell it because it would leave Mike homeless. Can you imagine that? I want to see if his brother can adopt me or something. ‘Cause he sounds like a hell of a guy.”
“Yes he does.”
Sean shuffled a bit then continued, “The first time I saw this view… I don’t know. What is it? It just brings up some kind of feeling doesn’t it? I don’t know how to describe it. How would you describe it?”
Icon paused for a moment but didn’t take her eyes off of the view. Then, softly and with a tone of awe she simply said, “Romantic.”
Sean did a double take.
“Romantic?” he stammered, “Um… Yeah, I’d say that too.” He paused and then after a moment said, “And when you say ‘romantic’ do you mean like… Do you mean it like a general ‘hey that’s romantic’ or do you mean it like a ‘you and me’ type of romantic?”
Icon turned to him with a smile. She stood on her tiptoes and gave him a kiss. Then, blushing brightly enough to be noticeable even here in the dark, she walked back toward Ramona.
“I guess that’s a ‘you and me’ type thing,” he said, “Which is… which is great.” He walked back to the car himself and continued, “So does that mean… Is there a chance that maybe we could maybe go out on a date-type thing?”
Icon smiled and said, “Pretty good chance.”
As they got into the car Icon noticed on her phone that she had received a text. It was from Jasmine. The text merely said:
You need to come home.
All the production equipment you need is a DSLR
Sometimes thing just start to work out on their own. In careers. And in relationships.
There is a moment in filmmaking that sets the whole thing in motion. A moment when someone decides "I'm going to make a movie." And if you happen to be around that person at the time that happens, then you may find yourself involved in making that movie too. Especially if you have all of the film production equipment needed.
In this chapter, our independent filmmaker finds herself in the right place at the right time. While visiting the home of a former screenwriter from the 70s, she finds that he has been convinced that now is the time for him to get back into the world of movie-making. And when he hears that Icon has the production equipment and the know-how to make that happen, he is naturally inspired to offer her the job as DP.
Which is the sort of job that she has always wanted. Her goal in life is to be the sort of person who works as a cinematographer on some films, while serving as director on her own. This is why she has purchased a whole load of film production equipment from a retiring cinematographer. That's her path to achieving her goals. But she had no idea that an opportunity to shoot a feature would come so soon.
It may only be a vampire movie. But it is a movie. And she is set to shoot it.