Sunday, November 07, 2010


It is a rather well known fact that putting two gay men in a car and setting them out on a road trip, even a short one, is a recipe for cartographic disaster. Yet somehow my Producer, Louie B. Mary, and myself -

- managed, after only a few wrong turns and with the urging of one of those pushy GPS devices (and why oh WHY do they design them with a FEMALE voice? Everybody knows that the same men who refuse on principle to stop and ask for directions ALSO routinely ignore their wives…)-

- to find our way to the stately Jesuit School which served as the first location for our new romantic comedy film "SMOOCH", coming to your living room via the Hallmark Channel just in time for Valentine's Day.

We had scouted (a technical term which means, for The Non-Cineaste Readers among you, driving around endlessly in a stale smelling van -

- trying to convince some poor sucker to let the dysfunctional circus which is a Film Crew descend upon their homes or places of business in exchange for a coupla bucks…) several schools before ending up at the Jesuit Academy -

- housed in what once was the campus of a Detroit University; evidently hard times had fallen on the previous regime and, like some form of bacteria, the religious order had taken the place over. To be fair, despite my loathing for all forms of superstition, including witchcraft -

- Christianity -

- and the career of Wayne Newton -

- (who is clearly a Time Traveler, having left the Las Vegas of the Future to return to the Pop Charts of the Present as Justin Bieber) -

- I must admit that there is a lot to be said for the young men who attend this particular place of learning. With their crisp shirts and neat ties, the student body suggests nothing less than a rather chaste version of a Bel Ami "art film" video -

- and if their Captors, the suspiciously ruddy-faced Jesuit Brothers (one assumes they didn't get their rosy glow of broken capillaries from sipping tea…) who run the place are perhaps filling them with ridiculous notions of gods and demons -

- at the very least they have impeccable manners.

Which is more than can be said for at least one of the other "public" schools we visited, with its refrigerator-sized Security Guards roaming the place like it was Sing Sing; setting foot into one of the vile cesspools they referred to as "the rest room", Your Faithful Reporter nearly fainted from the stench of overflowing urinals and unflushed toilets. If this is the sort of behavior condoned in the nation's tax payer financed educational system, perhaps the youth of America would be more useful if they were raised like cattle and sold for their meat.

But I digress.

Shooting began on schedule with neither of our stars Kellie Martin nor Simon Kassianides present; today's scenes featured not only Kiernan Chiupka-

- and a classroom of twelve year olds-

- but also a collection of Frogs, both living and "ex", as well as an appearance by a delightful local actress named Rio (!) whose portrayal of a love lorn school teacher was one of the laugh out loud highlights of the morning.

The aforementioned amphibians, meanwhile, were closely monitored on set by a representative from the Humane Society; one does wonder exactly what she felt she could offer to the collection of dead "prop" frogs she itemized, pinned as they were to a series of dissection trays dotting the room, but she certainly did keep a watchful eye on our "Star" Frog as he sat in his jar, ready for his close up. This Frog, and his Personal Manager (ie: the lady who carries the Tupperware container with a few back up frogs in case, one assumes, of Sudden Dead Frog Syndrome), are receiving approximately $200.00 dollars per day for their services, which is a lot of flies any way you slice it.

This being the first day, a certain amount of time evaporated as the crew began the awkward dance of getting to know each other - in the often intimate situations of cinematic endeavor, nobody can remain complete strangers for very long - but they quickly seemed to fall into the roles prescribed them by the arcane studio-system rituals which, in long ago and far away Hollywood, set up the specific pecking order of Film Hierarchy. There is a long tradition of a place for everyone and everyone in their place, and it is often said that if the world ran like a movie set it would be a much happier place.

Unfortunately, nobody bothered to explain this to the enthusiastic, if slightly deranged, young woman who has been hired as the "studio teacher" for our child actors.

Clearly imagining herself to be an integral - and welcome - part of the creative process, she spent the better part of the day interrupting Yours Truly as I talked to the actors; while I was giving them their motivation, soothing their egos and telling them to talk faster and avoid bumping into the furniture - in short, the work of a Director - she somehow managed to insinuate herself into every conversation, being a nuisance at every turn.

Normally I would have responded to this sort of thing with a sharp glare, a stern word and a swift backhand - while I may treat my crew members as equals, a film set is anything BUT a democracy and everybody knows they don't call me Daddy for nothing.

However, in this particular situation my hands are tied; this manic schoolmarm literally holds the fate of our film in her sweaty palms as she is - in aforementioned Froggy Management fashion - the state-sanctioned "educational watchdog" for our Young Leading Lady and should she decide that Miss Chiupka has worked enough for the day she can literally shut down the production.

So I smiled, clutching the arms of my Director's Chair so tightly that the wood now bears my fingerprints, and listened to her prattling on as only someone in their early twenties who has spent their entire life in either a school or a mental institution can, and at wrap I spoke with our Unit Production Manager, suggesting that if this dear loon wasn't kept on a much shorter leash, she was in danger of joining her ancestors before the end of the shoot.

It's not as if there aren't plenty of places to hide a body in this city; it's Detroit, for crying out loud. And as I've always said, when in Rome….


Anonymous Anonymous said...

love this ron!!! hilarious, you hit the hammer right on the nail!!!


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