a few days ago, i got a call from ed durante, the director of the indie black black comedy jake gets paid. this was my first substantial film role to date -- although i have some blactress buddies that think my moment in that grand farce marcy x (a medium/semi-close up shot of me, in a kente cloth headwrap no less, yelling "get that bitch off the stage!" in reference to a pink chanel-suit wearing lisa kudrow) was a pretty good one. ed sounded a little giddy, as usual. he decided to have one last rough cut showing of the film before he submitted it to sundance, to get some feedback. that's got to be a crazy trajectory, drumming up support to get your film seen there. because it's not about independent film anymore. and it doesn't necessarily matter how good your film is. he had put it up for "public" consumption somewhere on nyu's campus (his alma mater) on the same night as sekou sundiata's memorial, so i figured i was destined to not see it before the rest of the world did. but here was ed's phone call. i couldn't say no.
ed pulled that shoot off in april by scheduling everything on the weekends. in retrospect, i can't believe he did it. wait a minute -- what am i saying? film is a collaborative effort. we did it -- the cast, the crew, all of us. we really did.
he said 7pm, so i'm thinking he'll click the light switch off at 6:55pm and of course when i show up at about 6:20pm or something i'm the very first person there, which is embarassing and wierd. i got to thinking, maybe i should give up on this whole "punctual" thing i've got going. it's totally working for me but not really. ed was at his rosy effervescent best -- wisecracking and wine-sipping his way through it as he rearranged furniture with his brother paris and answered the door and greeted the guests and poured the vino. there were a dozen of us or so. it was very much a listening room.
i have to say, i really liked the movie. it looks so warm and lush. and there are moments that feel immediate and familiar because of the camera angles, the rhythm in conversation and some fairly straightforward funny moments. there were moments when i wouldn't look at my face but i didn't look as fat as i thought i would, so all i could really feel was sweet relief. i didn't know that ed would bookend the movie with my songs. that was a beautiful surprise.
the first was "stand by your man" which rang out stark and weary as the main character Liza, a brunette white girl, runs out of the bedroom towards the camera completely naked in slow motion a la peckinpah (at least that's who i thought of when i saw it) with her black boyfriend jake's freshly removed condom. the next shot has her in the tub, emptying the contents of said condom into her vagina and tilting her hips upward, in an obvious effort to impregnate herself, all the while chatting casually with the boyfriend through the closed/locked door, who thinks she's simply washing up. obviously a psycho, right? there's more but i really don't want to give it away...
later when it was time to ask questions and toss up opinions, i remembered out loud an article i read somewhere about desperate modern women who say they don't want to get married or have kids but who poke tiny pinholes in their condoms and diaphrams or stop taking the pill, or whatever, to entrap whoever they're with. conception by deception. it's supposedly on the upswing in urban areas, especially new york city -- but no one had ever heard of such a thing. how cool was ed, to tap into something so topical.
he ends with the song "get it right this time" which totally worked. it was almost as though the lyrics were saying what jake was really thinking.
i remember walking to the subway and thinking, okay, i'm over the hump. i've done three national commercials, i've done a supporting role in a film. i've finally got on-camera stuff that shows that i can act. now what i need is a role on the "law and order" franchise and my transition to film/tv/commercials will be complete -- relatively speaking, naturally.