Archive for November, 2006

You Talking to Me?

An independent production company was in town recently making a movie with such big names as Hugo Weaving, who plays Agent Smith in The Matrix movies, and Jack Davenport of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies.

At work, it fell to me to get a story about The Key Man , as the movie is called, into the paper. On the Friday before I was supposed to have a Monday interview, I was given a number for a cell phone that I was not to use until Sunday, at which time I would call the producer to find out the time and place where the photographer and I were to go.

This sort of thing makes me cranky. With everyday people, you pick a day and time to meet and get in with your life in the meantime.

Because I didn’t know when I would meet the producer – or how much time the photographer and I would spend cooling our heels after we got there – it meant that I had to plan on the story eating up the whole day. That, in turn, meant that, on Saturday, I had to go ahead and write another story that was due first thing Tuesday morning.

Plus, it meant that work would be intruding into Sunday, a day that was supposed to be a day off. I figured the chances were remote that the producer would answer the first time I called and that catching up with him could hang over the entire day. And, sure enough, he didn’t answer when I called a few minutes after noon, which I figured was the earliest I could call a movie person from Los Angeles on a Sunday if I didn’t want to make him cranky, too.

Although he didn’t return that call, he did respond to my second call three hours later. He told me to meet at Forsyth Country Club at 3, where he would tell all, where we would meet an actor or two and where the photographer could get some photos.

He was indeed there at 3 but there was a nary an actor in sight, and the only set at hand was an empty room with a movie camera at one end. Hugo Weaving had already left town, and Jack Davenport was out shooting on the golf course

The producer was forthcoming with information, though, so I was soon in good shape for my story. The photographer, however, needed something more.

For reasons that I never did fully understand, the producer said that it was not possible for us to go out on the sixth hole where the crew was. He did add, though, that the sixth hole ran along a road on the far side of the golf course.

So the photographer and I drove around. Sure enough, we saw a gaggle of filmmakers gathered on a knoll under a stand of lights.

After parking, we crossed the street and found a spot where the street was elevated enough for the photographer to get a clear shot over the chain-link fence. Right away, a woman separated herself from the flock and scurried over.


Because of the fence and the fact that we were up a little hill, there was enough distance between us that she had to raise her voice.

You can’t stand there, she said.

Apparently, the producer had not called ahead to tell them that we were coming.

By nature, I’m accommodating, often to the detriment of my own well-being. If she had made any effort to be conciliatory, I probably would have been more agreeable.

I looked down to make sure that we were, indeed, standing in the right-of-way. Yep, nothing to talk about. If any change fell out of my pocket, it had an excellent chance of landing on asphalt rather than gress.

We’re standing in a public right-of-way, I said. We don’t have to go anywhere.

She told us again that we had to leave. I said we didn’t have to go anywhere. After a couple more of these fruitful exchanges, she returned to the flock. She came back with a man.

He told us that we had to leave.

No, we don’t, I said. I thought of mentioning that the producer was the one who had told us where they were but, by then, I was so irritated and feeling so self-righteous that I wasn’t interested in justifying our presence that way.

After telling us to leave a time or two more, the man turned and walked away. The crew got back to the business of filming Jack Davenport driving up in his golf cart, jumping out and running past the camera.

We found out later that the man yelling at us was the director. So we missed a good opportunity for a shot of him.

Driving away, I muttered to myself about interlopers from LA trying to strong arm tax-paying residents of Winston-Salem.

But, all things considered, I thought, everything had gone quite well.