So I Was In a Movie, Part Three

by dpreyde

The new scene consisted mostly of me and Natasha talking to each other on the back patio of a local coffee shop. When we showed up, it was lightly raining.

Gail and the crew convened next to the door of the patio, talking quietly and solemnly to each other. Me and Natasha and about a half dozen extras waited at the other end of the coffee shop, unsure of what was going to happen. After a few minutes, Gail updated us on the situation.

“Well, we can’t shoot when it’s raining, and we don’t have time to reschedule, because we’re already running behind. So we’re going to give it half an hour and see if it clears up.”

I silently hoped that the rain did not clear up, which made me feel like a bad person. But I was nervous that I might fuck up again. I had no confidence in my ability to learn the new material.

Gail and the crew hung out by the door to the patio, talking amongst themselves, while Natasha and I sat at a table near the front door. She was quieter than Kat, Geoff, or Rob, but that was fine, since I was in a pensive mood. We still found stuff to talk about. The extras- all of whom were Aspie- seized a large table near the back of the restaurant. One of them was entertaining the others with enthusiastic celebrity impressions.

I reflected on the fact that I don’t feel particularly connected to most Aspies I meet, and wondered why that was. The truth is that most of the time I’d rather talk to neurotypicals. I find it easier and more enjoyable.

Well, the truth is that most of the time I’d rather avoid people altogether, but when I do talk to them I’d rather have a reciprocal conversation that doesn’t consist of monologuing or arbitrary changes in topic. For god’s sake, let me do the bare minimum of small talk and then let me be.

There are exceptions to this. I find a lot of non-autistic disabled people easier to talk to. In the last several years whenever I’ve felt attached to someone, they have generally either been crippled or crazy. Or queer. Or a ball-busting feminist. Increasingly I feel that these assorted misfits, vagabonds and freaks are my people. I feel removed from those I actually share a diagnosis with.

Still, I feel protective of them. Natasha and I both noticed how merrily eccentric the extras’ behaviour had become- they were like a pack of Muppets- and I watched her carefully for any sign of disapproval or judgment.

Nothing.

She was good folk.

The rain cleared and me and Natasha were ushered out to the back patio, where we worked on close-ups and some other technical stuff. It was decided that the dialogue scene would come after.

This was good, because it was less demanding, and allowed me to relax a little. By the time we filmed the dialogue, I was feeling much better.

We nailed it in a couple of takes, improvising more heavily than usual. I was pleased with the results; the scene felt natural.

At a distance of several months, memories of most of the shoot have clumped together into several distinct moments. I remember hanging out by the back of a warehouse with Arturo and Rob. We were waiting for Gail to show up with the equipment. Arturo got bored, and scaled a fire escape onto the roof of a neighbouring building to see what the view was like. Seeing him standing on the roof, I felt I partially understood what sort of temperament a person has to possess in order to move to a different continent.

Later that day, I found myself wearing an astronaut suit. Just minutes afterward, I posed shirtless with a volleyball.

The shoot ended with us getting to ride around in a limo. Everyone else had to wear formal wear, but I dodged that bullet, thank God.

“I think your character is more disheveled than that,” said Gail. “I’m going to get you to wear a tuxedo T-shirt.”

I thought this was hilarious, because I’ve frequently joked to family and friends that if I ever get married, I’d wear a tuxedo T-shirt to the wedding. My sister has said she won’t allow it.

But on the last day of shooting, I got to live the dream.

The end of my last day on set was a little anticlimactic. I was the last actor there, I did another topless shot, and then I got sent home.

Maybe they just liked my body.

A few weeks ago the cast and crew received an invitation from Gail to watch the finished film in an honest-to-god theatre. She did this last year too, and just like last year, the screening occurred at Innis College’s theatre on the University of Toronto’s campus.

I took film studies at Innis, and I’ve seen a lot of movies in that theatre. Citizen Kane. Psycho. King Kong. 2001: A Space Odyssey.

And on that same screen, I’ve also seen my enormous fucking face. It is a very strange experience.

In Gail’s previous movie, I’d only been in a few scenes, and every time I popped up I felt self-conscious. I figured this time it would be even worse, since I was one of the three main stars.

Still, I was looking forward to seeing it.

And so was Hannah. She wasn’t able to come last year, because I didn’t invite her (I honestly didn’t think she’d be interested, which was a bad assumption). This year I had invited her well in advance, and I was excited to show her the movie. Then, of course, things went to hell.

We were in her apartment getting ready to go to the movie when the fire alarm went off.

“Shit,” said Hannah, “that means the elevators won’t work.”

“It’s probably a false alarm,” I said. “It’ll stop in a few minutes.”

Nope.

Multiple water pipes had burst in her building due to the extreme cold.

“I’m sure the firefighters will clear the whole thing up by the time we have to leave,” I said, nervously eyeing the clock. We had to leave in fifteen minutes at the absolute latest.

Long story short: I had to abandon Hannah. I profusely apologized before I left, she said it was fine, really, and I ran like hell to get there on time.

I kind of figured the whole thing would be quickly sorted out and she’d show up late, but the situation didn’t clear up for several hours.

Other than that, the premiere was a lot of fun. Ironically, I felt a lot less self-conscious this time since I was constantly onscreen. I think that’s called “immersion therapy”.

Everyone else was fantastic, of course, and it looked like an honest-to-god movie. I never thought I’d star in a film that looked so fucking professional. Well, I never thought I’d star in a film at all.

It’s online now for free, if you want to watch it. This is the link:

https://www.hawkinsinstitute.com/online/aspergers-dating/

I couldn’t figure out how to see it at first, but I e-mailed Gail and she passed along instructions for me. First of all, you have to register. Then you log out, log in again, click on the words “Plus One”, and you should be able to see it.

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