Thursday, 27 March 2014

Fade To Black - 27 March 2014

Well, well, so we've come through Act One.  Allan and India (formerly Annalee) have quite obviously developed a rapport.  As we've learned, she finds him a bit on the weird side, but he's safe.  He's not a big guy, so she's not threatened by him.  A little alcohol, a few drugs, Allan's gentle nature, and PROTECTION MODE, and our young lady is able to drop a few of her defenses.

As for Allan, well, we can see he's pretty much up for anything when it comes to relationships; not to mention the personal, kinky thrill of getting involved with the young lady he envisions as a character in his movie.  Is he interested in India as a person?  Or is she simply a visual fantasy playing out in real life?  Hmmm...

As we enter Act Two, things are about to heat up as the filming of "Older Than Dirt" gets underway.

By the way, the screenplay for Older Than Dirt actually exists.  Wrote it myself, sorta using Allan's persona as a guideline for authorship.  I entered it in a bunch of screenplay contests, but it never really got anywhere big.  People more or less through it was too weird.  Of course, within my own circle, people loved it.  A little creepy, a little inappropriate, but then, Allan wouldn't have had it any other way.

And so, here we go!






Fade to Black

© 2008 CL Seamus




     Older than Dirt got rolling early in 1998. Dan helped Allan with various administrative starting points, then watched the new director truck in his motley crew of associates and “creative consultants” for a complete takeover of Coleman-Kopanski’s facilities. Assistant director Rennie Raymond, production manager Brody Lowe. Gail Kim on the cameras - Joshua Horn on the sound. Dan brought up the rear with a script supervisor, art director, prop manager, electrician, and so on - not to mention his own group of “I wanna make a movie” friends. By the time they held their first staff meeting, the conference room was crowded with no fewer than twenty five people.

     Office space was divvied up and the hallways of the Box became a veritable cult factory of death metal music, fangs and white make-up, odd-smelling incense, black & white arthouse movie posters, late night meetings, and often some very weird creatures found asleep on cots and couches come morning. And while Dan waded hip deep in the project, Ted perched in his office and watched the proceedings from a safe distance. Dan was on the set - Ted was on the phone. Dan was Production - Ted was Money. Everybody fell into the roles for which they were best suited.

     Allan was a quick study in the world of organised film making, extremely dedicated to learning and growing. The respect he demonstrated for business quelled fears concerning his commitment to the project as investment as well as art. Dan also noticed how Allan dressed down for work, usually just wearing cargo pants and muscle shirts. Sometimes he even wore a baseball hat. Okay, so the hat had kittens on it - the man had to maintain his individuality. He often went without make-up, and didn’t fuss with his nails every day. He’d still dress up for Court, but at the studio, Allan disappeared into the regular world.

     India Bowman was actually the more rogue of the two, mostly due to her age. Seventeen wasn't all that old when compared with the adults around her. She’d giggle and scrunch up her neck during rehearsals of Henna’s biting scene. She’d hold her nose and fan paperwork in the air if someone cut the cheese in a meeting. Oh sure, it could make others laugh, but it was often disruptive when time was of the essence. Dope had a lot to do with it. You could count on one hand the number of times she’d smoked weed at the Avalon. Now that Court was held every weekend, she became a willing participant in its excess. Dan explained her as young and enthusiastic, that she’d calm when actual filming started. She’d gone serious at the Togetherness audition, and he was sure she’d be able to do it again.

     Her scenes took less than a week to shoot, but had to be done first to accommodate the less than flexible availability of the under-aged children involved in the project. India’s experience hadn't done anything to prepare her for the piece-by-piece assembly of film. Movies weren't made with the live electricity of an unfolding stage tale. Things were set and prepared in short outbursts of creation. It was a lot of boredom and waiting and retakes that often made her antsy and silly. It had been interesting to watch the budding director go through the paces of getting her to focus. The more she fussed, the more frustrated other cast members got. The more frustrated they got, the more upset she’d become. Allan would sit with her and bring her down, and down, and down even more. She’d pace away from him, nervous as a frightened animal. Like Henna James. Then she’d buckle down and do the scene with flawless skill. What was he saying to her? It was apparently just between the two of them - neither would disclose the inner workings of this sure-fire method of motivation. All anybody saw was a distracted girl who’d suddenly come to bear with remarkable clarity.

     Dan watched India act. He watched Allan direct her. He’d been moved during one of her final scenes; he’d never before seen anyone cry that way. The entire set had gone silent, and stayed pretty quiet for a while afterward, too.

     He told Ted about it when they met the morning after. “I've never seen anything like it,” he said as he relived the image. “It’s all set up and she’s on the floor. She’s apparently a little under the weather or something. It’s the gymnasium scene, y’know? Then Allan leans in and whispers something, and she just... something happened. She just collapsed on cue. Real goddamned bawling. Like someone just killed her cat. Everybody just stood there and stared. You could have heard a pin drop.”

     Ted lit a smoke. “He must have done something.”

     “Well, yeah. But what?”

     “Maybe he killed her cat.”

     The bottom line about India was that she was an intense, uncomfortable girl, somewhat high-maintenance, but always able to pull it together in the final round.

     Allan had anticipated India’s reluctance to get involved with publicity when the film was ready. As the man in her bed these past months, he knew her only intention was to be an instrument of the stories, not a star. After all, these were just small pictures. They weren't going to put her face on any front pages. That was just fine with India. She’d probably go along with some of it, but if it got threatening or invasive, she’d surely kick and scream. Though many aspects of her life remained buried in shadowy places, Allan saw some things as clearly as light through polished glass, and he knew she was not keen on media.

     Seated at the conference table were Allan and India, side-by-side on the long of it; Ted and Dan at opposite ends; William Korman - the new publicist - Rennie Raymond, and Tim Wallace on the other long side. They were arranging VL interviews and a photo shoot to coincide with the Dirt opening. India didn’t have a business manager, but she had Allan, and he spoke for her in matters of career. Paul Mallory from the Avalon had been passed over, but as consolation had been promised a part in a picture. What part remained open, but his foot was in the door.

     Korman passed out copies of his plan. Apparently, he, Rennie, and Tim had it all worked out. They would push the Henna James angle. True, the monster Heroq would likely be the bigger draw, but everybody agreed the waif James would have a certain understated appeal in her sorrow. So India would do this and that and blah, blah, blah...

     She slumped, elbows on the table, chin in hands. Who gives a shit? I just want to go home.

     Wallace spoke excitedly. “If we do India being Henna James, but in poses not from the film, we’ll get--”

     She clicked her tongue and made the same bored sigh that had captured Allan’s attention at the audition - only now it hit him differently. Now it meant she had no intention of going along with this scheme.

     “Ouch,” he toyed, as he draped his arm over her shoulder. “That is not a happy noise.”

     She spoke - no, worked him over. “I don’t want to get into make-up again just for Tim’s stupid ideas.”

     Wallace heard her. “You know, lady, I wouldn't be so--”

     Allan stopped him with an upheld hand of patience.

Just let me talk to her

     “Here we go,” Ted grunted. This was getting so old.

     Allan squeezed her shoulder. “Hey? We have to do this. It’s time to sell the picture. You know that.”  

     She played with his fingers, her voice low. “...stupid.”

     “No, no, no. It’s just a photo shoot. Jacob can get into costume and make like he’s biting you.”

     She brought out the big guns by squeezing his fingers in her fist. A lover’s special promise. Before he could defend himself, she went right to the bigger guns and nuzzled his ear. “Can’t we at least do something I want?”

     His crotch spoke for him in no uncertain terms. “Sure, sure.” They kissed. “What did you have in mind?”

     Rennie rolled his eyes. “Maybe you two would like a room to complete the negotiations.”

     Allan relaxed a little and sat back from her. “She just wants some say in how it goes. Is that so bad?”

     Tim gnawed a pencil with his angry fangs. “Okay, Yoko. Let’s hear it. What’s the big plan?”

     She threw her paper cup at him. “I’m not telling you now. You’re being mean to me.”

     Silence. How do you deal with something like this?

     Dan slapped his hands together. “Well, I, for one, want to hear it. The girl is Henna James. She knows the character, right? India? Listen, don’t take things so personally, sweetheart. Just tell us what you have in mind.”

     Ted got up and stood by the door, arms folded. He held her with firm, no-bullshit eyes. “Don’t hold up the meeting if you’re not going to speak.”

     She leaned closer toward Allan, held to him as she spoke with caution. “Maybe we could have me and you instead of me and Jacob. Sort of like ourselves, but dressed fancier. I could be in a school uniform or something. Like Henna if she’d been properly raised.”

     Tim began a slow smile as he felt the twitch of her vibe. “Like with a plaid skirt? And knee socks?”

     She lit up in his validation. “Yeah. And a white shirt with a neck-tie.  Allan could be dressed like he’s my teacher or something. Just black pants, shirt, and tie. And I’ll--”   

     Allan interrupted. “I’ll have blood all over my face, and you’ll have bite marks on your neck. I’ll be looking away, all indifferent... like this.” He threw his nose in the air and struck the pose of an upper-class snob.

     She laughed. Her creative energy leapt. I’m an artist, too, yanno? “And I’ll look in the opposite direction with this, like, whatever look.”

     Allan took pencil to paper and sketched. “We could do several poses... maybe even something with you trying to bite me after I've bitten you.” He pointed at Korman. “Like, ‘Henna was victim to Heroq, so Bowman is victim to Baird’.”

     Korman took notes. “We could do a series of shots that depict you in control of her.”

     Tim laughed. “Like that would ever happen. Baby’s got this one by the balls.”

     They all laughed. Allan just grinned in patience. “Yeah, yeah. Call it a weakness, truly.”

     She pressed her chin to his shoulder and whispered. “I don’t want to do the character again.”

     Ted relaxed. Things seemed to be getting back on topic. Productivity resumed. The little lady had imagination. If she learned to use that brain half as well as she seemed to use her sexuality, she might actually turn out to be worth something to him.

     The release of Older than Dirt just before India’s eighteenth birthday had the desired effect underground, though made few ripples in the light above. But then who actually gave a hoot if the film got the sniff from the regular world? It had hit its mark with the demographic, and hadn't lost any money. Didn't make any, but not losing was a gift.  To the mainstream world, monster movies were a dime a dozen, and the subtleties of Baird’s metaphysical twists seemed lost on all but the most devoted of fans. Within that circle, however, occurred a shockwave over the cruel incarnation of Heroq and his brutality toward children. It wasn't even the leading role - monsters rarely are. The main character was a noble, but emotionally troubled basketball coach, curiously named Rupert Emerson. But alas, heroes often garner less attention than the evildoers. With dangerously attractive blond porn star, Jacob Heinz, playing Heroq, the character was even more limelighted. There had been creepy scenes of psychological torture, and a definite buzz swirled around Heinz for having depicted such activity, even if only as fantasy. But even Heinz came in second to the fuss that surrounded the gothic, sorrowful Henna James, and her alter ego, enigmatic newcomer, India Bowman. Her name had appeared last in the credits. And introducing India Bowman as Henna James. It gave her participation a place of singular acknowledgement, wrapped her in a veil of secretive charm. The word being kicked around was ingénue.

     A big passenger van rumbled along on its way to collect India from her digs, a two-thousand square foot, three-bedroom suite in a gated complex. Her pay for Dirt had not been enough to cover its lease, but Allan was more than happy to supplement the cost of her living quarters. In the van were Allan, Rennie, Tim and the young college pup he’d been banging for a couple of months, Stuart Gold and his current girlfriend - a strange air-head with a nasty bubble-gum cracking habit, Gail Kim, and a late-forties administrative assistant named Lucy Kraft, who was this flighty, frizzy-haired, hippie carry-over, sent along by Dan to baby-sit the children and deal with the amenities for the studio. The plan was to grab India and head over to the VL offices for a new interview and some photos to celebrate their successes.

     The van rocked with a mini-party. The driver, separated by an after-market wall, heard only muffled laughter and roughhousing. Loud techno music, alcohol, and pot. Tim snorted coke off the bare chest of his boy-toy in a fumbling make-out session. Stuart and his girlfriend read an issue of VL, and while she massaged his crotch through his jeans, he impressed her with his by-line on a story about the release of Dirt. Even though it might put them in Dan’s doghouse, Lucy and Gail smoked a fat one and chatted up Allan about how he came up with his stories. All the while, Rennie tried to steal his attention with kisses.

     Allan scrunched his shoulders and slapped him limply. “Go away,” he snorted. “Can’t you see I’m being fawned over by these curious patrons of the arts?”

     Rennie sat back and poured a drink. He’d really been on the back burner lately. He had other guys he saw on a regular basis so didn’t lack for attention, but he and Allan were supposed to be friends. The on-again-off-again taste for pussy seemed to have flared up, and Rennie felt jilted. Maybe it was time to fly. After all, he was a director, too. Hell, he’d been directing film a lot longer than Allan had.

     The van pulled up to the iron gates of India’s home. Allan slid open the door and leaned out to hit her call-button.

     Her reply was thin through the speaker. “Yes?”

     He announced with a deep talk-show voice. “India Bowman, come on dowwwwn!”

     The others in the van hooted in raucous, suggestive support. “Oh God, she’s coming! She’s coming!”

     She laughed into the speaker and clicked off.

     Allan closed the door and flopped back down. “See, I just touch her button and she comes. I’m good that way.” He leaned over and kissed Rennie. “Don’t be grouchy.”

     He grabbed a fistful of Allan’s hair. “Fickle bitch.”

     “I’m no such thing.” He snuggled his disgruntled lover and they were quiet in kisses. Allan fumbled with Rennie’s belt.

Master of the backseat handjob

     Meanwhile, India brushed her hair in front of the bathroom mirror. What had she done to earn this swanky lifestyle anyway? Act in a movie or bang the director? Dirt was low budget and on its own didn’t come with all these perks. Allan always bought great gifts for Christmas and birthdays - not to mention his expensive weekend soirées - but had no true person-to-person indulgence, so was only too happy to crack open his wallet to heap good fortune on his playmate. She thought about the black Jag in her parking space downstairs. He’d bought that less than a month into their relationship. Wasn’t this kind of thing supposed to make a girl feel good? The problem was that she didn’t know how to let people in. She’d spent most of her life forcing them out. She’d learned how to get it on in the no-holds-barred lifestyle, but how do you actually let a person in?

     Frustration ruled her feelings over Allan’s relationship with Rennie. They were close emotionally. Even a strong teenaged girl would have balked at what was going on. Allan didn’t confide in her as much as Rennie. They were comfortable and familiar. She supposed the only reason he wasn't that way with her was because of the short time they’d known each other. He’d known Rennie since he was eighteen. The truth was that Rennie knew how to love Allan. Apparently, all she knew how to do was fuck him.

     She looked into the mirror. Nobody looked back. 

     The van people watched India stroll across the parking lot to the gates. All in black - leggings and an off-the-shoulder ripped shortie-shirt that showed off her bra strap. Black sunglasses. The scrubbed skin and the fawn freckles. Her freshly washed raven hair floated on the breeze.

     Stuart gave a low whistle. “Holy shit. Hell on fucking wheels.” His eyes followed her soft curves.

     Rennie relaxed a bit after Allan’s little treat.

It’s all good

     Tim sipped from a flask and sized up the lady’s slow, seductive saunter. “I wouldn't mind a bit of that. Allan? Does she like tall men with better looks than you?”

     Allan yawned and took the flask. “Go ahead and ask her, Wallace. I've always thought it might be fun to snap a picture of you having the fangs slapped out of your mouth.”

     Rennie flustered. “What makes a normal man turn straight?”

     Lucy hadn't quite adapted to this crowd yet, but they smoked good dope, so she thought she could learn. “Maybe he found religion,” she croaked on the inhale.

     “I’m sure,” Gail scoffed. “Right between her legs.”

     Allan held up his middle finger. “Fuck me.”

     Rennie snorted. “Who the hell can get near you with this one watching the fort?”

     Allan kissed him. “For you, I’ll always make an exception. But not in front of the wife.”  He sat back, folded his hands in his lap as the door opened.

     India slid in next to him. “What the hell...?” She waved her hand and coughed in the cloud of smoke.

     “Hi, honey,” he smiled, lashes batting coyly. He nuzzled close. “Kiss, kiss.” They shared several smooches. Allan closed his eyes and sighed. “I am enchanted by thee and the poetry of thy presence.”

     She kissed him again. “My boy.”

     He held a joint to her lips. “Howard called. There’s a crowd outside the office.”

     “A crowd of what?” She took a long toke. He flopped over, head in her lap. “Worshippers, fans, lovers of ‘Dirt’.”

     “I hope there’s security.” Her palm distractedly caressed his cheek - she poked her pinky into his mouth. “I won’t be pawed at,” she frowned.

     Tim shook his head. “Don’t get excited. Fans always hang around. They want to see what’s going on. We’ll drop you two out front so you can say hi. Say high. Get it?”

     “Are they, like, autograph people or what? I don’t even have a pen... or anything.” She lost interest in teasing Allan and nudged him from her lap.

     He sat up. “Have you met Lucy? She’s from Dan’s office. Lucy Kraft, India Bowman.”

     India twinkled her fingers in a wave. “Aren't you scared to be in this truckful of degenerates?”

     Lucy drank from Tim’s flask. “They grow on you.”

     The van eased to a stop outside the office building. The address board on the front window included the names of a dance studio, palm reader, a talent agency, and Vampire Life. There were at least twenty fans waiting - mostly black-clad, spiked-hair, pierced-tongue Goth types. Some powder-faced vampires mingled, looking for good veins.

     The van door slid open - Allan and India stumbled out and tried hard not to look stoned, even though a cloud of smoke haloed them closely. Fortunately, they were among friends.

     “Now stay calm,” he said flatly as he slid on his sunglasses. “I’ll see nothing bad happens.”

     “That makes me feel so much better.” Allan was immediately recognised, but India only by virtue of VL’s reporting that the young lady also saw Baird socially. She wasn't that exposed as of yet.  She’d only done two interviews so far, yet she and Allan were being hyped as the new dark Lord and Lady of the underground. A live appearance was a real treat.

     Cameras popped as fans rushed to greet them. A soft gasp that only Allan could hear escaped India’s throat. He held up a protective hand, but was far too small, and far too muddy-headed to have stopped them if they’d really decided to move on her. “Easy,” he advised. “Gently, okay?”

And take a bath, sweety

     Four big males at the front calmed obediently. One grabbed and shook his hand. “You’re Allan Baird.”

     He shook back. “Did you like the picture?”

     The youth smelled of day-old alcohol and party sweat. “Fuckin’ great. I saw it twice already.”

     Another one spoke. “You played ‘Henna’. India Bowman.”

     India tried to smile. “Hi. Uh, what’s your name?”

     The big boy got goofy. “Raven,” he grinned.

     “Ooh,” she teased. “My favourite poem.”

     He shoved a felt marker at her face. “Sign my jacket.”

     She flinched - it felt like a weapon. “Careful, tiger. Put my eye out.”

     He just laughed and turned to show her where to sign on his back.

     Allan spotted Howard taking pictures. “Spence!” he called as he signed a copy of Vampire Life.

     Howard waved. “Some crowd, hey Baird? Whooda thunk it?”

     Allan called over the commotion. “They’re parking the van. Stuart wants to talk to you.”

     Howard walked among the crowd, snapping pics.

     The smelly youth draped his arm over India’s shoulder, flashed the horn sign to the camera, then stole a kiss. “Can we hang out with you? You’re going into the office, right? Fuckin’ love to hang out.”

     Howard saw her face wash out with panic. He reached and pulled her from the aggressive youth. “Hey there, baby.”

     She gripped him tightly. “Get me out of here!”

     Howard slung the camera over his shoulder and moved her through the front doors. He took out his cell phone. Things were heating up fast. Two guys banged on the window, tried to get India’s attention as she waited in the lobby. She hugged herself and backed away to the wall, fists clenched. Anymore and she’d jack someone in the face.

     Allan patiently signed as many autographs as he could before squeezing through the door. Howard held the fans at bay until two guys came running up from the basement to help with crowd control.

     India stared back up at the commotion, her eyes wide and frightened. She turned to check how Allan was doing. He just giggled in stoned amusement, relaxed and at ease with fans. “This doesn't bother you at all, does it?” she asked in shaky voice.

     He draped his arm over her shoulder. “Suck on it, honey. You’re going to be famous!”


OLDER THAN DIRT has taken the underground by
storm, and though most of the credit goes to
writer/director Allan Baird, acknowledgement
is also due young India Bowman who - despite
the lesser role she plays - commands a powerful
screen presence as Henna James, the sixteen-
year-old who turns out to be the last warm
blooded soul to face the evil Francis Heroq.
Bowman’s acting chops prove to be stronger
than expected. Being from the stage,she could
easily have blown it with ham-handed theatrics,
to get her name known in a hurry, but instead,
turns in a subdued performance, hauntingly
melancholy and emotional. It’s hard to imagine
the places one so young must retreat to find
that depth of pain. While talking to her, I
learned Bowman isn't always prepared to light
those dark corners.

TW: How did you prepare for the role?

IB: Um, I just read it. Did what I had to.

TW: I heard they had some trouble with the fact
    that you kept laughing during rehearsals.

IB: There was nothing to laugh about by the
    time we shot the thing. Allan made sure
    the smile had been slapped off my face.

TW: How did he do that? Whisper sad things
    off camera?

IB: No, he did it when we were alone.

TW: What did he say?

IB: I don’t want to talk about it. I’m just
    glad the film turned out well. I’m glad
    people liked it.

TW: Sounds to me like you’re not quite out
    of the Henna James funk yet.

IB: I won’t argue with that. Plus I’m a
    little freaked out right now.

TW: The fans outside today were a little wild.

IB: I was not prepared for that. Holy mackerel.

TW: I think you should get used to it.

IB: I hope I can.

TW: How’s the relationship holding up? I see
    you brought the other half with you today.

IB: He keeps me interested.

TW: Any marriage plans?

IB: I’m not into marriage.

TW: What about kids?

IB: Um, I’m not ready for kids either.

TW: Allan told me that you've been getting
    fan mail.

IB: I got a bunch of letters. Mostly nice.
    Some were a little scary though. The
    vampires write odd letters. They want
    to make me their own. They want to drink
    my blood and become youthful again.

TW: Are you answering?

IB: Yeah. They take the time to write, so...

TW: Do you feel like a star?

IB: I don’t want to be a star. I want to be
    an actor. I love disappearing into
    characters. Live someone else’s life,
    even if just for a short time. 

TW: You've changed the opinions of skeptics
    who felt Allan cast you just to get into
    your pants.

IB: I can’t imagine anybody putting that much
    thought into that topic. Stupid.

TW: What do you do with your free time?

IB: Paint. Go for long drives at night. Allan
    has me studying film to become more
    knowledgeable about my chosen field.

TW: Were you not a film fan before?

IB: Yes, but he opened up a whole new type of
    film to me. Independents, cult classics,
    stuff I never paid much attention to before
    this. A whole other world of art.

TW: How is it affecting your taste in film?

IB: I guess it’s making me more discerning.

TW: Talk about the Stuart Gold interview you
    did this summer. You seem darker now.
    Stuart said you were like a little whirling
    dervish last time. How much of that is
    because of the emotional exposure of a
    part like Henna James?

IB: I don’t know. I can be pretty moody on my
    own. That interview was weird because it
    was actually an interview with both of us.
    Allan’s more into these things than I am.
    I guess he just brought out the dervish
    in me.

TW: Allan’s known for drug experimentation
    during writing projects. Any comment?

IB: Not really. Talk to him if you want to
    discuss it.

TW: Have you taken any of these so-called
    creative trips?

IB: Can’t we talk about something else, Tim?

TW: Any plans to return to the stage?

IB: No, I like what I’m doing now. Movies
    are weird though. You don’t just learn
    lines and do it all at once. You film
    little bits and pieces and nothing is
    done in order.

TW: Your skills are more than just character
    motivation and crying real tears. You
    have a genuine talent.

IB: Thank you. It’s stressful, but the result
    is a good picture. I guess I’m the

TW: What would you do if the fame thing
    got to be too big for you?

IB: I’d quit. Quit or go crazy. End up in
    a mental hospital. I’m not interested in
    fame. I just want to work, create art.
    People should be interested in the art,
    not the artist.

TW: Baird’s been saying that since we started
    up with him in college. Are you adopting
    his philosophies?

IB: Just the ones I agree with. I’m not a
    puppet if that’s what you mean.

TW: What sorts of activities do you enjoy as
    a couple?

IB: We watch film. We like to slow-dance in
    the garden at night. Sometimes we go for
    long drives. Stay out all night. Sleep
    under the stars.

TW: The hopeless romantics. Talk to you again
    soon, India.

IB: Thanks, Tim.

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