my friend renee got cast in a short film awhile back. sometimes when we hung out, she'd let fly with all of these tidbits about what the process was like. she thought that i should meet ed durante the director of the short film because he seemed to be as much of an anomaly as me. and strangely, he was. after we'd met, renee showed me his reel of short films. i thought that much of what i saw was filled with beautiful imagery that was compelling and, well, interesting. clearly, he knew how to tell a story with visuals. that alone was enough to put him a cut above a lot of people who called themselves filmmakers. i was intrigued. okay, i thought. he knows how to do what he does -- no small feat there. now what does he want to say?
but i digress.
where did the initial introduction take place? there are so many moments that blur together, like some strange syrupy goo: the video shoot for renee's dance project, where a hardworking focused ed (surprisingly) gave it his all, with beautiful visuals and real direction; the sit-down dinner at ed's girlfriend's place, wherein we showed up later than expected because we expected something a little more casual, much to ed's bemusement and (slight) chagrin; ed, telling me that i was really onto something with my whole "black americana" thing and how we should make a video of the song "stand by your man"; ed, looking at my photos on myspace.com and telling me how bad he thought they were; and of course there was the burlesque show at the slipper room, wherein during the go-go section of the show, ed's righteous black friends asked rather indignantly how long to we have to watch these flabby white girls jiggle around, anyway? what a fun night that was. i distinctly remember that ed freaked himself out when he realized he was turned on by little brooklyn's clown moment.
i'm not sure when it happened but somewhere in there, ed and i connected. and then we bonded. renee's project brought us together and i figured another one would probably happen along, but i had absolutely no idea what it might be. and besides -- i wasn't sure ed would work with me because i didn't have a lot of film experience. there were a few el-lay moments when he'd go on a little too long about what someone looked like on camera that he wanted to work with, not knowing or caring whether they could actually act. as an actor that can act, that bothered me. but whatever. for some strange reason, he called me in to read for his first feature length film and for some strange reason, i auditioned well and for some strange reason, he kept calling me back until he finally offered me a part.
the first problem, it seemed, was that we would shoot on the weekends in april, which meant that my hair had to be consistent. so my first question was, do i have to straighten it? needless to say, ed is progressive enough as a black man to find black women attractive in their natural state -- so we agreed that my hair would stay the way it was. i was warming up to the fact that my character seemed to be such a smarmy high-brow back-stabbing two-faced hedonist. all that detail right below the surface seemed drama-ready -- and after giving the script a thorough read, i realized that really, that was the whole idea.
film is a funny thing. you can read a play and know if it's good but you don't really know what you've got with film until you're looking at the final edit. (and i mean final.) to be honest, it's hard for me to trust anyone. and here i was, trusting ed. he knew what he was asking, of all of us.
before i left his apartment, i remember him telling me, "this is going to be a crazy adventure and you're going to hate me by the time this is over, but you're going to be glad that you did this." and i think he said something or another about making me a star. i can't remember. i was too busy thinking about the crazy adventure and the hate and the happiness.
i remember walking down the street thinking, ed may be nuts -- but he is talented. and he is my kind of nuts. so this just might work...