Friday, March 27, 2015

Recurring Themes

"The one recurring theme in my writing, and in my life, is confusion. The fact that anytime you think you really know something, you're going to find out that you're wrong -  that is the rule. The moments where you think you have something figured out - those are the exceptions."- Conor Oberst, musician

This blog can sometimes be like a bad movie pitch for me, where Bill Murray movies meet other Bill Murray movies. Right about now, it's Groundhog's Day meets What About Bob meets Lost in Translation, only without Scarlett Johansson.

After over twenty years of practicing zazen meditation, it is not surprising that my therapist recently said to me that I had 'introspection down pat,' nor should it be surprising to regular readers of this blog that I have a therapist, something that should be a requirement of anyone who is or, for that matter,  aspires to be, a line producer.

I had found myself on the doorstep of Shooting Gallery after experiencing a dark night of the soul after working with members of my close movie family on Town Diary, a feeling similar to the one I felt more recently after finishing Keep My Brother, where I questioned if this was the right direction for my life.

In preparing this post, recurring themes in my life presented themselves. How similar the challenges and questions of one film is to the next. The feeling of being pulled back in to a world that often did not serve me well. Wondering if this was the right path. Returning to my movie family like the grown kid who keeps going back for that nightmare, Home For the Holidays, Thanksgiving get-together.

The Oberst quote above has more truth for those of us who work in any of the arts than it seems at first glance.  We are constantly chasing after the truth, and scared that we might actually catch up to it. What would we do then? How empty our lives would be if we ever found all the answers.

Likely,  I could have been happy at Shooting Gallery for years, had it not hit that damn iceberg.  For sure, there was a period of time after Shooting Gallery had it's doors closed (that request came from an eviction marshall) where I found myself adrift in a lifeboat,  which was, in my case, funded by that small inheritance I'd received from an aunt.

That time was filled with pursuits both artistic,  where I pursued my writing,  and wanton, which included stays in Atlantic City playing poker. Indeed, there had been times in between shoots where I had made quite a good living after the movie Rounders and amateur  Chris Moneymaker's World Series of Poker victory had driven a number of would-be poker players to the table. It was a time when the quote from Rounders, "if you can't spot the sucker in the first half hour at the table, you are the sucker" rang true.  Those of us who had played for a while could make a tidy living.

All good things must eventually come to an end. Poker players started getting better about the same time that the dotcom bubble burst, stock prices tanked, and it seemed a good time to get back to work.

There is a great story about actor  Omar Sharif. The dashing co-star of Lawrence of Arabia and star of Dr. Zhivago and Funny Girl was a world -renowned contract bridge player, good enough that he had a Chicago Tribune syndicated column on bridge that was distributed worldwide.

Sharif did not simply engage in cards as an academic endeavor,  and he enjoyed all forms of gambling.  As the story goes, he had lost most of his money while in Monte Carlo, something that seems to have happened to him more than once. *

Legend has it that after a particularly rough night,Sharif ordered a large breakfast,  asked for a house phone,  called his agent and said, "It looks like it's time to go back to work.  Get me a movie."

My Sharif moment was less exotic with troublesome annoyances such as paying rent and utilities getting in the way.

It was about that time that Phil and Donna from Paper Blood were actually getting close to finally getting funding for their second feature, a script we will call The Holoflux

Years from now, it's possible that a film historian will analyze my career by the fact that two of the films I line produced had names involving the fire of the unattainable and the holoflux universe.  No one will ever accuse me of chasing commercial scripts.

I was back working with close members of my film family,  two people who were closer to me than blood relatives. I would bring in people I knew and trusted. 

Famous last words . What could go wrong?

* Sharif Quote from IMDB "I stopped making movies because for the last twenty five years I've been making a lot of rubbish because I was in debt all the time. You know I used to gamble quite a bit and then I was always broke. I was always one film behind my debts and so at some point you know I had to work all the time to support my family and myself and all my expensive tastes and then I decided that it became ridiculous at some point. "

No comments: