Monday, March 06, 2006

I Needed a Hero, Part III


Where were we? Ah, yes. I was the schmuck who didn’t drop off his writing sample spec to the showrunner of Global Frequency when he had the chance. Luckily, Mr. Rogers was swell enough to make good on his invitation to the set when they shot the pilot.

So, off I flew to Vancouver, a city with all the beauty of the Pacific northwest and all the grime of an urban slum, both at the same time. I was going to stay for just one full day, since I was paying for this out of my own pocket. (Most of my trips to the West Coast end up being on the company dime…and the company dime will get you into some rather nice hotels. My dime? Something else entirely.) I would’ve opted to stay at the Canuck equivalent of a Red Roof Inn, but the GF production was headquartered at the way more upscale Sutton Place Hotel. Apparently, every production is headquartered there. Don’t know if there’s a dearth of decent hotels in Vancouver, but this is the one.

Flew in, met John and a colleague for dinner, had a quick drink in the hotel bar — where I saw the entire friggin’ cast of The L Word gathered to celebrate the arrival of the director of the next episode, Ernest Dickerson — and went to sleep early for what was surely going to be a busy tomorrow. I should’ve known better: I would be spending the day on the set and, as I’ve said here before — and others have said better elsewhere — a day on a set is a mind-numbingly boring affair.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m a huge fan of the comic, and was totally impressed by John’s script for the pilot. (Some of you may have seen the finished product, oh, somewhere on the internet.) So it was kinda cool being there, hanging out in video village (the pavilion of playback monitors), meeting the cast, watching director Nelson McCormick plan his shots like a military operation (and with good reason; apparently, he was a combat photographer), and shooting the shit with GF creator Warren Ellis, who planted a phrase in my head that I still haven’t been able to shake free (“Godzilla bukkake”).

But being on a set is a lot of waiting: waiting for the lighting crew to swivel their gear around, waiting for the camera crew to get their focal lengths right with the stand-ins, waiting for any one of a thousand things that have to happen before a single frame of film could be shot. And, not being intimately involved with what was going on, no one asked me any questions. So I sat and watched and, like everyone else, waited. Waited to talk to John about my chances of actually writing for the show. Finally, grabbed a couple of minutes before dinner and he gave me the low-down: he’d be happy to have me come in and pitch, when the time is right, when they wrap the pilot and start filling out the stories for the first season.

Sweet. A very expensive tentative “yes,” but a yes nonetheless. (The lesson I drew from this: Chase down every lead, so long as you can afford it, and even if you can’t. It cost me almost a grand to fly out there to get five minutes of John’s time…and it was worth every penny.)

Before I left the set that night — where they started shooting the very cool opening scene, on a “San Francisco Chinatown” street — I tucked a copy of Hero Unlimited into John’s briefcase. No way I was not doing that again.

On the flight home, I scribbled down eight ideas for Global Frequency episodes. That’s how jazzed I was.

Next time: The conclusion of my Global trek and why even real-world endings should leave room for a sequel.

5 comments:

Stephen Benson said...

congrats dude. i think the ugliest part of showbidness is the shameless, expensive chasing of gigs. it's also the hardest part on the psyche. rogers and ellis are awesome. i used to catch rogers' standup when i was a circuit musician in vegas. he has a whack/sanity thing going that tickles me. good luck with the gig thing. a big part of why i will never leave the jingle/sound track end of music is because in that arena i am an "offer only" guy. my heart and soul have too many audition scars already. i bet pitch wounds are the same.

marc bernardin said...

they are, but eventually (or so I hear) those wounds eventually scab up to form a rather spiffy armor.

And, yeah, I do wish I'd gotten to see him do stand-up.

Ken Lowery said...

"where I saw the entire friggin’ cast of The L Word gathered to celebrate the arrival of the director of the next episode, Ernest Dickerson"

You lost me about here.

The guy who did Bones, right? And Tales From the Crypt: Demon Knight?

Don't get me wrong, I'm one of the few people in the continential US who loved both movies, but... that man on The L Word?

I think it's time to fire up a completely illegal file-sharing program for research purposes.

marc bernardin said...

yeah, the guy who shot Do The Right Thing and Malcolm X was doing an episode of a Showtime series. (And I, too, loved Demon Knight...even if it was just an Aliens rip-off.)

Ken Lowery said...

Right, I forgot he was a cinematographer first. That's a pretty dramatic decline. I mean, The L Word is okay, I guess, but I just can't imagine the person who suggested THAT guy as someone who could jibe with the L Word's style.

But, you know, I can mock the guy all I want. He makes more per minute than I do in a year, I'm sure.