“I’d like to be part of the movie,” I said to LaLa over the phone.
“You would?! You’d drive from Austin to Houston for this?” She asked. “The 48 Film Competition is intense. We don’t get much sleep, and I won’t be going home at all that weekend. If you’re serious, we have a couple of hotel rooms where you can get some sleep when you can.”
“I am serious! I’m there! I haven’t seen you in years, so this is a good excuse,” I said. LaLa and I were best friends my senior year in high school, which was her junior year. We hadn’t seen each other since graduation. “And I’ll get my own hotel room. Since the divorce, I’ve discovered that I like having the bathroom all to myself.”
“Ok. Well, we won’t get much time together. But the crew could use you, and it will be a lot of fun, around the hard work. I’m so excited that I get to see you!” LaLa said. “The Competition kicks off on Friday night. We’ll meet at Dean’s Clothing Company—it’s really a bar—and draw genres out of a hat. Then the elements are announced and the teams leave to start writing.”
“Elements? What are those?” I asked.
“They’re details that much be incorporated into the script. See, the whole competition is set over one weekend; that’s why it’s called the 48 Film Competition. The script must be written, the movie filmed, and even the music performed the same weekend. To keep everyone honest, we all must use the same elements: a character, prop, and line of script.”
“Oh! Cool! To make sure that no one writes the script in advance, I get it.” I was getting excited. This sounded like an adventure, and I was ready for one of those. “What do you need me to do?”
“We need actors. Usually everyone gets at least one line,” she told me.
“Wow, an actress in a film! That will definitely be fun! I can’t wait!” I said.
I met LaLa at her apartment in Houston. She was still a skinny, beautiful blonde, but she had aged ten years, in the best possible way: she had a confident air that she hadn’t had as a teen.
We rushed from her apartment to Dean’s Clothing Company. We ordered drinks and made small talk while we awaited the start of the competition. LaLa was distracted; her mind was on the upcoming challenge.
Finally, a kind, pretty woman stood up and asked for everyone’s attention. She had dark hair and pale skin with black rimmed glasses; her smile, like her, looked soft and nice. She explained the rules, much like LaLa had, and said that there were 7 teams signed up. Then each team came forward in turn, drawing a genre from a bucket: comedy, musical, drama, etc. LaLa drew, “Mockumentary.”
“What is that?” I asked, genuinely confused.
“It’s like that Spinal Tap movie. It looks and feels like a documentary, but it’s not real. It’s a parody, a farce.”
“Oh,” I said, kind of disappointed. “Wouldn’t comedy have been better?”
“No,” she replied, “This is awesome! Just wait. Now, shhh.”
The kind woman at the front motioned for the excited crowd to calm down. “Now, for the Elements,” she said, and the crowd quieted down. I heard someone ask loudly for pen; that team was certainly disorganized. “Prop: Pliers. Character: a cheerleader named Diane Dellusio. Line: ‘Just keep going; you’ll know when to stop.’ “
The next few hours were a whirlwind. I followed LaLa in my car from the bar to the studio, which was one of the prefab buildings in a low rent office park. Inside, it looked like an office lobby. Somehow I was surprised to see carpet. I met the rest of the crew, about a dozen people, and we chatted while we await instructions.
“LaLa, I have an idea. We can make it like a series of dates…” I began.
“No!” she said, and addressed the room at large. “We have the core writers, who will come to the back and help me write the script. The rest of you need to just wait for us to finish. Jeff!” she turned and started talking to one of the writers. They soon went into the back room.
I identified at least four handsome young men in the room. “Jules, be good,” I told myself. “You have a boyfriend. Well, a guy that you’re dating. So what if it’s only been a couple of weeks; be good! He’s a nice guy!” Kenny had texted me to ask if I had arrived safely in Houston. He was sweet. I just wasn’t sure that we had a future; he worked at the grocery store restocking shelves. Until recently, he had lived with his parents, my neighbors, which is how I met him.
“Hello,” said one of the handsome men. He was about 5’10” and I tried not to notice his beautiful brown eyes or his strong chest.
“Hi,” I said with a smile.
We chatted for a while. He lived in Houston, had a day job in an office, but dreamed of modeling and acting. We shared the same birthday (July 19). Despite my little pep talk, I found myself very interested in this man. I had to get away from him!
Eventually, we were told that the writers would write all night. Come back tomorrow.
I made a beeline for my car and drove to my hotel. I couldn’t take a chance that Mr. Brown Eyes might ask me out for a drink; I might have said yes!
The two smartest women in the room, an engineering student (me) and physics teacher, were cast as the cheerleaders. I laughed hysterically. My role was to pretend to be a really bad actress. I was to deliver my line in a monotone voice. I did, and nodded vigorously in response the line that was said to me. The whole thing took about a minute; but I was in a couple of other scenes, too, in the background.
Anthony was gay. When I found that out, I volunteered to run errands with him. After all, a gay man was safe; I wouldn’t have to worry about him hitting on me (or vice versa).
“I’ve been having second thoughts about my sexuality,” he told me.
Uh oh. “What do you mean?” I asked.
“Well, I’m thirty years old, and I’m in a relationship with a man that I’m not sure that I like. It’s time to branch out, try something new. I don’t know if that means another man, a new sofa, or a woman,” he said, laughing, trying to make a joke.
I giggled nervously. Maybe hanging out with the gay guy wasn’t so safe, after all.
The day passed slowly. We had a lot of time to hang out and talk between scenes, while the other scenes were shot or the props were hunted down.
Brown eyes told me, “I’m going to a birthday party tonight. One of my friends. Should be a blast!”
I could tell that he was bragging, but I couldn’t help but feel left out. He probably couldn’t invite me, since it wasn’t his party. Still, I wondered if he had a date, and what she looked like.
The cute blonde with the clear blue eyes asked me, “Hey, it’s kinda hot today. Wanna go swimming back at the hotel?”
My scene has been shot, and I’d been told that I might not be needed again. “Stick around if you like, we might use you in another scene. But don’t count on it.” So I was pretty bored. “Ya,” I said. “Let’s go.”
The water felt great. Blondie looked great: his muscles had nice definition. We talked and splashed and it seemed natural when he kissed me. We did a little more than kissing when I pulled away and said, “Thanks, I’d better be getting back to the set.”
“Ya, me, too,” he said. “Uh, thanks. This was fun. I—uh—haven’t done this in a while.”
I smiled. He was a waiter in real life; I could see him getting a lot of tips.
It’s a Wrap!
It was late when the official call word was out that we were done filming. The experts had to splice the film, add the opening and closing credits, and overlay the music. That meant that LaLa, as the project lead, was going to have another late night.
Brown Eyes ran out the door to his birthday party. Before he left, he got my number and asked me to breakfast the next day. I agreed; I’d need to eat, and I hated to eat alone. It wouldn’t be a date if I paid for my own meal, right?
Anthony, my gay (?) friend, asked me to go see some live music with him. I was tired, but not ready to go to sleep. I was in Houston, after all, and hadn’t seen much of the city at all. So I agreed.
We had to go by my hotel to drop of my car, then his house for him to change. It felt odd to be in the house that he shared with another man; especially when he was on the outs with that guy. I wouldn’t wait to get out; even thought, it was a beautiful home, and I loved the stories behind the fun furniture and decorations. Then drive to the bar. By the time that we got there, it was nearly midnight. We each had one drink and were ready to go. The band was good, but we weren’t into it.
Anthony fell asleep at the wheel at least three times. I kept waking him up. It was clear that he couldn’t drive home after dropping me off; so it was only natural that he share my hotel room. Platonically.
I barely slept. Here was a stranger (though a friend of a friend) sleeping in my bed. I didn’t know how to get out of it, but I had bought a hotel room so that I could have my privacy. Now I was sharing my room with a STRANGER?! He snored away, oblivious to my internal struggle.
The next morning, he said, “Thank you so much for a lovely evening. I really appreciate you letting me stay here.” Then he kissed me. Not a peck on the cheek, but a full on, tongues-touching, kiss.
All I could think is, “MORNING BREATH!” and “OMG I just kissed two guys in one weekend!” and “I’m a terrible person. I’m seeing somebody!” and “He’s supposed to be GAY!!!”
He said, “I’ve never kissed a girl before.”
I mumbled that I had to leave, get on the road, and keep in touch. I brushed my teeth and got outta there was quick as possible.
Breakfast with Brown Eyes was very enjoyable. He had picked an upscale breakfast place with an excellent brunch. We had a nice, friendly chat, then he walked me to my car. And he kissed me.
Wow, wait. He kissed me. WHAT?! Three guys in one weekend?!
I had wanted an adventure, and I found one! Part of me felt guilty, but part of me was thrilled. I loved that I was charming enough that 3 guys wanted to be with me. YAY!
“Kids, do you want to see mommy on a movie screen? I’ll be 40 feet tall!” I told my children.
My 8-year-old daughter was enthusiastic. At 12 years old, my son was less than thrilled.
“Oh come on!” I said, coaxing him, trying to get him to smile. “I’ll be huge. You can point at me and say, ‘Look at my mom’s big red tits!’”
I probably scarred my children for life, but my daughter laughed. My son got in the car. Well, that’s progress, at least.
The screening went well and the film won! I was stunned. I’m an actress in an award-winning short film. I’m on IMDB (though there’s no picture and there’s not much to read). Here’s the film: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cYu3JDbYGCQ
So I picked up three guys in the same weekend. Unintentionally. When I was trying to be good. I set out to have an adventure, and I did! And I’m a movie star!
Just to be clear, all this took place in 2006, a looooong time ago.
For more info on how to become a star in one weekend or less: www.48hourfilm.com/houston