Carmel and Movies ~Weird.
Filming a movie is so different from what I’d imagined. I don’t know what I imagined though. I was so panicked I wouldn’t have the lines perfect, the movement just right, the meaning clear. But this isn’t something one person is meant to do alone. In my years of navigating creative fields I’m used to all kinds of ideas bubbling up, and over, and into nothingness. But in film, you can do it all. Ideas can be caught and wrapped into the production, at least that’s how Aidan’s crew was worked. It’s slow. It’s imperfect. It’s chemistry and emotion, parsed together by the genius of director, camera man, sound man, and actors. We started working on the script at around 5pm, and finished the first part of our shoot at 2am. Since we filmed outside in a California coastal city, I was cold and tired by the time we left. But I was jazzed. I was playing with human interaction, emotion and language, for the sake of a creative endeavor I believe in. I’d never asked to do this out loud, but the opportunity came may way like fate.
Carmel Valley is about ten miles, and fifteen minutes, inland from Monterey and Carmel-by-the-Sea. It’s warmer, it’s quiet, with a few shops in the village downtown. Every time I’ve visited Monterey, I’ve spent hours window shopping or expensive wall art. It’s like Chelsea relocated to the place where all people have buying power to support the artists. The one and two-lane highways that meander down Monterey Bay are slow going, with more traffic than I expected. So when I pulled into Aidan’s house, and saw him sitting with Tre’von drinking wine in the wide wild yard, I was pleased. More than pleased.
I met Aidan years ago at a poetry reading in San Francisco. I snapped twice in the middle of a great poem, to support the poet—something done often in slam, and rarely in page poetry. He saw my embarassment, and gave me a knowing smile across the small crowd. He’s the kind of man who can drop lines from poems in casual conversation, who can connect symbols in real life with lyric already canonized. I loved his smile and his mind, he loved my openness and my verve. We clicked into a connection we still can’t name.
So when I told him I’d be driving south, Aidan invited me to not only stay at his house, but to act in his film Anatol. Having taught theatrical terms for Shakespeare, required students to memorize and film lines, this felt apropos. Also, I’ve now studied improv at Bay Area Theater Sports for eight months; how could I pass this up? But how the hell do you act in a film? And did I have my lines memorized enough? Was I even supposed to perform the lines I had read, or were we modernizing them?
Anatol is a film written by an Austrian playwright Arthur Schnitzler, a characters study about a man who struggles to find love. He meanders through many women, all of whom he loves in some way. He seems always to be wondering if each is his soul mate, or if he just doesn’t want to be alone. Along with every other woman acting in this film, I could relate to both Anatol, and my female character.
Aidan cast Tre’von as Anatol and I understand why. He oozes charisma. Conversation is art for him—he listens like a student, and merges into each person. He laughs easy, smiles often. He did with me. Tre’von boasted a suite of bulky gemstone metal necklaces, the king of which he’d made of a stone found only in Czechoslovakia. He's a jewelry maker, and told me of the stone's healing properties. At that, I knew we lived in a similar world, one where metaphor and sound reality blended.
In Travels with Charlie, when Steinbeck talks about Fargo, he says, “I am happy to report that in the war between reality and romance, reality is not the stronger.” All of us live, to varying states, in the world we imagine. In my late thirties, I have squirmed against and towards the rules of how we should live. Fit nicely into reality. My peers have already decided so much, settled into permanence with spouses, city of residence, occupation, children. Try as I may, I’ve been unable to do this. In Carmel Valley, as I sat in a gravel driveway, spotted with foxtails and crabgrass passing a joint back and forth, I couldn’t help but wonder why we limit ourselves. These men both a decade my junior believe in a world that's theirs to create, far more many people my age. Is it youth, or just faith? Aidan told us as we piled props and filming equipment into the car that the word Weird comes from a greek word that means fate. Like when the universe throws you a curveball, and you say, “Oh, that’s weird.” Some of us have that door open more than others. The choices don’t narrow, our minds do.