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.
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.
“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.
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.
“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.”
“Uh, well. I’ll let Jennifer know.”
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.
“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!”
“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.
DeMille raised his megaphone and loudly called: “Action!”
The floor rocks like a teeter-toter, and waves of pool water slosh the room.
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.
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?)Tags: August birthdays, Cecil B. DeMille, David Fincher, David O. Russell, Filmmakers, Hollywood, James Cameron, Joel Schumacher, John Huston, Kevin Smith, Nicholas Ray, Preston Sturges, Stella Braintree, Storytelling, Tim Burton, Wes Craven