Lights, Camera, Action!

By the time you read this, I will have made my debut in front of the camera. Tomorrow, I’ll be taking part in Ballistic Entertainment’s upcoming independent release, Synthetic Truth, in which I play the role of Mr. Anderson – and no, my first name isn’t Thomas. 🙂 It wasn’t supposed to be this way. I was supposed to be lurking in the background, providing vague assistance to Chris, who is on board as one of the executive producers. This means she helps find locations, fronts the cash for the eventual release, and generally cheerleads.

It also meant we were at the last script reading, and when one of the actors was absent, I agreed to read the part for him – if truth be told, in between popping out to the car to listen to a baseball game. However, I apparently did a good enough job to get the role permanently (in indie film, absenteeism is a major offence, and it’s not like you can dock someone’s pay when, er, no-one’s getting any), and am now a stern, disciplinarian father.

To go with this, I now have a stern, disciplinary haircut, since it wouldn’t do for the father to look more of a hippy than his son. It also helps that the temperature here in Phoenix is nearer 50C than 40C this week, though showering becomes a radically different task when you have nothing on your head with which to lather up [I leave the solution for that to your imagination]. As I sit here, comfortably cool, in my crew-cut, shorts and Doc Martens, I find myself quietly humming Tomorrow Belongs to Me, for some reason…

Chris, too, has ended up in the movie through a similar route, playing a controlling, frustrated mother, albeit without the need for a controlled, frustrated haircut – she shot her scenes a week or so back. Should say we’re not married to each other in the film; indeed, I don’t actually have any scenes with my cinematic other half, and so the first time I meet my “wife” will be the night of the premiere!

Before you rush out to hector your local cinema chain for the release date (and I just know you were going to, weren’t you?), I should point out that the theatrical release will be about as small as possible – one night, one cinema, two screenings. But this is how Ballistic Entertainment works, and the money they make from ticket sales, plus videos, covers the night’s expenses and funds their next work.

It is film-making at the purest level – if the audience doesn’t turn up, you are fucked. Proper fucked, to steal a line from Snatch. However, Ballistic know how to put on a show and there’s a lot less at risk than with the likes of Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle. Maybe if Drew Barrymore had added a live band to every showing of the movie – as Ballistic did last time – it might have done better at the box-office.

However, with luck, this will be the first Ballistic Entertainment production available on DVD – Chris and I are looking forward to doing the producer’s commentary track. 🙂 Though expect uncomfortable silence whenever I’m actually on screen; I can’t even listen to myself on voice mail without cringing, so the prospect of being 20 foot high in a cinema makes me dizzy with horror.

All this started with a simple review – we’ve written about Ballistic’s other films before: Premonition, Rebound and Turn, and this established initial contact. We then invited Ballistic to a barbecue here; Chris then wrote them an interest-free loan for the up-front costs, and hey presto, we’re on board for the ride with a full producers credit. Of course, this will in no way impact my fair, unbiased review of the end product. 🙂

Have to say, the script does kick arse, and this looks set to continue the steady improvement Ballistic have shown, even in the relatively short time we’ve known them. Gone is the music nicked shamelessly from Nine Inch Nails; this time, director Zach Yoshioka is working with an original score. Interestingly, it’s been composed in advance, off the script, and he’ll be cutting the film to fit the music. He’s directed a lot of music videos for local bands, so this will be right up his street, and the result will hopefully realise the potential of the script.

This may be our only entry in the world of cinema, but whatever happens, it’s been a blast. The enthusiasm of Zack and the rest of his crew is entirely infectious; it’s been a revelation to see how much hard work goes into even the smallest film behind the scenes. Tomorrow, I get to see what life is like hitting marks, remembering lines and backhanding my fictional offspring across the face. It promises to be an interesting day – stay tuned for an on-set report next week!