If they could see me now
by Josh Kesselman
My first Hollywood job was working as a PA/2nd AD/piss boy on a soft porn erotic movie called E is Missing aka Private Obsession. The director, Lee Frost, owned a house in the Hollywood Hills that looked like it came straight from the pages of a pulp detective novel. Lee was a character from one of these novels. Rail thin man with a pencil mustache. He had been making movies since the early seventies and was a bit of an icon in this space.
I remember being so excited to work on the set of a film. On my first day, I was greeted by our lead actress. As I reached out my hand to shake hers, I suddenly realized she was completely naked! It was at that moment I started to wonder which film business I was working in here.
As the weeks progressed, I seemed to be doing every job on set – lighting, set dressing, AD’ing, and setting up dailies. What a learning experience! Lee took me under his wing and really spent the time to teach me the craft of production. Even though I knew we were making a very specific kind of film, the experience was invaluable. I loved the process, and knew that this was my calling.
And then it happened.
During the shoot, my father had been in and out of the hospital after a terrible stroke. I was driving back and forth from Hollywood to the Valley to visit him. Lee called me up to his home office and said “Very important phone call for you, Josh.” I picked up the phone and said in a shaky voice, “Hello.” I already knew what this was about. The voice on the other line: “I’m sorry Josh, but your father just passed.” It was my stepfather, Steve, who had been trying to be a father figure for me during this time.
Bam! It hit me in the face. I was numb. I didn’t… couldn’t process it. Watching someone wither away for a year and a half is not something I wish upon my worst enemy. To get a call that it was finally over felt soooo damn final.
My father was a brilliant man who worked 25 years for IBM and helped invent and launch the PC. When the doctors told him he had to retire because of the stroke, it became hard for him to find a will to live – He loved his job. He instilled that notion in all of his kids.
His mantra: “Find what you love, and do it until the day you die.”
Well his 4 kids took that to heart. Older brother – airline pilot. Older sister – professional musician. Younger brother – filmmaker. Myself – manager and producer in the greatest business in the world.
I find it so bizarre that I got this call on my very first job in this business. It was my relationship with my father and movies that led me down this path in the first place. Writing this has shed light on that crazy irony!
Thank you Lee – I know you are sitting in a theater somewhere watching old movies with my father. I wish both you and my dad could see me now…Tags: E is Missing aka Private Obsession, Father-son relationship, Film industry, Hollywood, Josh Kesselman, Lee Frost, Loss of a parent, Making a movie