“how would you like to be in the pictahs?” asked Brother B via email one evening last week. He told me that he was making a short film which he hoped to enter into a small competition organized by a local brewery: Dogfish Head. The only requirements were that it was to be western-themed, feature some Dogfish Head beer and be less than 5 minutes long. Cool! “What do you need me for?”
“To play a horse. Called Tutu.”
He sent me the script and it was short, weird, and funny enough to make me sign-up there and then. Tutu only had three lines and that didn’t seem like too much of a challenge, even to someone who hasn’t acted since he played Mr Pickles in the school play when he was 11 years old. Actually, that was a pretty challenging role; I had to sing a solo, the lyrics of which included the line “I’m a merry fish merchant, on Fridays I’m gay”. Mental scar tissue had kept that memory safely repressed until now…
But this was just a bit of fun, and B is a top chap, and it meant going down to Maryland for the weekend, which would provide a timely break from the normal routine. We agreed to meet up on the Friday night for a short read-through in preparation.
Riding home on the Friday evening bus, I re-read the script and started to wonder whether any of it was possible. For a start, we were going to be filming in a wild-west theme park…had they arranged this with the park owners? There was a lot of gun play; firearms in movies is a tricky business at the best of times, but in a theme park? Have they thought this through? Then there was a Matrixesque scene with a slowed-down bullet that the hero gets trapped in his teeth. This was surely fantasy…
It didn’t take long for Michele and I to realize that this wasn’t just going to be a handful of people messing about with a camera-phone; there were four of five people in B’s room, all disturbingly professional, and prepared. There was a shooting script, an inventory of terrifyingly professional equipment and personnel that would be joining us the next day and enough industry jargon thrown about to make James Cameron get itchy. The park was out of season and therefore closed, but we not only had permission to film, we had the offer of real cowboys on real horses for background shots, and real firearms with blanks that they use in their re-enactments.
The next morning at five-to sparrow-fart, B and I headed off to Maryland.
The weekend was spectacular fun and over time the details will come out together, hopefully, with the film. For now all I’ll say is:
- I got to be the clapperboard guy in a few scenes and it was every bit as brilliant as I thought it would be; I’ve found my new dream career!
- The sentence “Let’s not get any more spaghetti on the Cow” was used in earnest during filming.