I’ve always wanted to make movies. Even as a kid, I’d make a viewfinder with my circled thumb and fingers and pretend I was peering through a camera.
About four years ago, I was in a movie. Maybe you saw it. Written and directed by John M. Ware and filmed primarily in Jasper, the film was called Thr33 Days Dead.
Most days I was covered in makeup and stage blood, playing various zombies with the other extras. I even got to “die” in one scene when Bryan Boylen’s character unloaded a shotgun on a group of us. I also had a small speaking role. In one scene I’m staggering around downtown as a zombie. The scene cuts to a rather stunned TV anchorman announcing that the country has been overtaken by zombies. That was also me.
One of my favorite memories of working on the movie was meeting Robert Englund, the original “Freddie Krueger” from the Nightmare on Elm Street movies. We talked for a few minutes and he posed for pictures, but that’s a story for another time.
A year later, I was in two episodes of Project: Afterlife on the Discover America channel. In one episode, I played a doctor who revived a man who had just died.
I loved all of it. And yet, I wanted to make my own films.
Then I did something really bonkers.
I wrote a script.
Son of David was about a couple, David and Catherine Abrams who had lost their young son in a horrible accident. Four years later, David, now an alcoholic, may also be losing his mind.
My friend “Old Bill” Young and his wife, Annaliese, graciously granted me permission to use their home as the location for the Abrams house. Making this short film required only a couple of days, so I scheduled two Saturdays in January 2017.
The week of the first Saturday, we had snow and ice. Then I caught a horrible cold. Because I was playing “David” and had a lot lines, I decided to film only the scenes which David is not in. These shots were mostly exterior shots of “Catherine” (played by the wonderful Anna Redmill) driving home.
By Saturday the snow and ice were gone. The temperatures hadn’t budged. It was colder than a polar bear’s toenails. We set up the camera near the square downtown to film Anna driving up to a stop sign. After a few minutes of nonstop shivering, Brett Harris, the clapper loader, and I crawled in Anna’s car to film her behind the wheel. I can’t recall when I’ve ever been so thankful for a heater.
We set the camera up down the street for shots of Anna driving by Lavish Coffee Shop. Then we needed shots inside the car of her talking on her phone. All the footage we shot was for the opening credits, which would have music but no audio, so Anna’s dialogue didn’t matter. Brett and I crouched in the back of her SUV with the camera while Anna drove around, laughing to ourselves as she repeated things like, “Watermelon, watermelon, cantaloupe, cantaloupe,” into her phone. It was pretty funny at the time.
The following Saturday we arrived around 8 a.m. and filmed inside the Young’s home all day. With Scott Day running the camera, Anna and I went through our scenes numerous times from several angles. I was worried we would need another day, but we pushed hard and wrapped up as the sun was setting.
Here’s the brutal truth: Son of David is not the exact film I wanted to make. It has mistakes. That’s on me. In our haste to finish, some shots were overlooked. I cut out one scene near the end because of missing audio. Some you probably won’t notice. Some are obvious.
I can’t fix every mistake, but I can learn from them. I’ve learned it’s extremely hard to act and direct at the same time. When we filmed The Silver MacGuffin in Oakman last year, I played a small role with very few lines, so I could do what I really wanted, which was to direct.
I have an idea for a new film. It’s about a man and woman who sell produce from a truck. She drives around town, yelling, “Watermelon, watermelon! Cantaloupe, cantaloupe!”
Maybe Freddie Krueger could ride along and slice the fruits and vegetables for her. 78