August directors' birthdays

My wild night of filmmaker inspiration

by Stella Braintree

Last night my pal Amy and I were out walking, when it started to pour. We darted into a joint called Fight Club – the kind of tavern we’d typically avoid.

Boxing gloves dangled from the ceiling and there was a roped ring in back. Amy ran to the rest room; I sat at a table (Johnny Guitar carved in the wood) and noticed a guy at the bar looking off quietly, like In a Lonely Place we’ve all been at some point or another.

“That’s Nicholas Ray. Directed Rebel Without a Cause.”

I turned to an attractive waitress who wore her hair in a ‘40s snood. The Lady (Eve was her name) continued, “Would’ve been his birthday today… He bought you a shot.“

I slugged it down.

As I watched her stroll back to the bar, Mr. Ray vanished.

“It’s Preston Sturges’ birthday, too,” said a pretty petite blonde, hair cascading over one eye. She indicated a mustached man sipping a beer.

I knew Sturges’ work: The Miracle of Morgan’s CreekSullivan’s Travels. It hit me the woman resembled Veronica Lake and was about to tell her when I heard commotion.

“You can’t quit!” yelled the red-faced bartender.

“Watch me!” growled Eve, as she tore off her apron and stormed out.

I turned to see the blonde disappear before my eyes.

The front door re-opened and Joel Schumacher slipped into a Phone Booth near the entrance.

Just as Amy sat down, the bartender stomped over to us. “You wanna split a-hundred bucks? I got a party-a-ten downstairs, no wait staff.”

Next thing I knew we had on aprons and were schlepping drink trays.

The basement was a total departure from upstairs. A tropical oasis with a swimming pool and glass ceiling. Palm trees flanked a tiki bar and there was a monkey making drinks. (Yes, a monkey who’d attended bartending school, but seemed rather disgruntled.) Yma Sumac blared from a speaker.

At a long table sat a slew of directors. A huge birthday cake in the center glowed with candles.

Knowing Amy’s nature, I expected trouble. “Please don’t be obsequious.”

She gave me a look.

“Don’t suck up,” I added.

But it was too late. Amy swooped at the table blasting a smile at James Cameron, “Hi, Mr. Cameron. I’m so excited about your new doc: Deepsea Challenge 3D!”

“Thank you. What’s your name?”

“Aaam-va — Ava… Ava Tar… Avatar-son.”

“Ava Tarson?” he asked.

I grabbed Amy’s arm, “You’re Flirting with Disaster. Get back to work.”

Amy ignored me and set her sights on David O. Russell. “I hear you’re making another movie with J-Law… “Joy”? Jen’s one of my favorites.

“Uh, well. I’ll let Jennifer know.”

I served David Fincher a Se7en & 7 and couldn’t resist, “I’m a big House of Cards fan, Mr. Fincher. Love it.”

Amy grinned at Schumacher, “The episodes you directed were Flawless.”

Fincher raised his drink, “I agree with that.”

“When does Gone Girl come out?” I asked him.

“October 3rd” he said.

About forty people descended the stairs, including a girl with a tattoo’d back, who sat between Fincher and Schumacher. Kevin Smith and Wes Craven joined the table.

“Looking forward to Tusk, Kev,” Amy blurted out. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo rolled her eyes.

Next thing you know I was Chasing Amy upstairs. “You can’t call him ‘Kev.’ You’re gonna get us fired! Like St. Elmo’s Fire(d), and we need the money!”

When we returned, I served Tim Burton a Frankenweenie and Beetlejuice, was about to leave with dignity, but stammered out, “When is Big Eyes being released?”

“Hopefully December,” said Burton.

Amy presented James Cameron an enormous vessel of cerulean blue liqueur — ice jutted up in the center and lime wedges simulated life rafts.

“Here’s your Titanic, Mr. King of the World!”

Everyone laughed.

“Well, I’m The Man Who Would Be King,” a deep voice boomed.

A snowy-haired man towered over us. The Maltese Falcon on his shoulder squawked.

Tim Burton whipped off his shades, “John Huston!? Where’ve you been?”

“Oh, spent a few years in The Asphalt Jungle… Here, there…”

It was refreshing to see the directors in awe of someone else –

The monkey threw a banana peel at Amy, hitting her head.

She let out a Scream!

Suddenly – a thunderous explosion!

Breaking glass rang in our ears.

I let out Scream 2!

Water splashed, and from somewhere in the midst of it all a voice bellowed, “Make way for The King of Kings!”

The chaos cleared, and blinding light shone from above, revealing a crane that shot up from the pool. Perched atop it: Filmmaking Great — Cecil B. DeMille.

David O. Russell, who was behind the bar Spanking the Monkey (it had been naughty, after all) exclaimed, “Oh, look! Three Kings!”

DeMille raised his megaphone and loudly called: “Action!”

The floor rocks like a teeter-toter, and waves of pool water slosh the room.

Scream 3

People are Falling Down. Bottles rocket through the air. Shattered glass zings.

The walls tremble as the man-made ocean grows higher and divides —

Lightning flashes, cracking the glass ceiling. Rain drenches us!

DeMille calls the parted sea to rejoin itself and a swoosh of water blasts over the room.

Scream 4

The crowd battles glass icebergs, coughing out the violent waters. Someone yells, “Rose?!” and a Big Fish named Moby Dick swims in and devours the monkey!

We hear the word, “Cut!” and everything goes black.

In a split second — I found myself transported to the table upstairs. A fifty dollar bill under my shot glass.

“It stopped raining,” said Amy. “What do you want to do?”

I looked up at her, “I think I wanna go home and write.”

Thanks for inspiring me, fellas. And Happy Birthday to all!

The Birthday Players:

August 2 – Wes Craven, Kevin Smith

August 5 – John Huston

August 7 – Nicholas Ray

August 12 – Cecil B. DeMille

August 16 – James Cameron

August  20 – David O. Russell

August 25 – Tim Burton

August 28 – David Fincher

August 29 – Preston Sturges, Joel Schumacher 

Check out Hollywood Journal August 13th (Didn’t think I forgot Hitchcock, did you?)

Stella Braintree

About Stella Braintree

Stella Braintree is a screenwriter, performance artist and dreamer.

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