Earlier this month I had the pleasure of directing Allison Merten’s first music video, “Temptation.” Check it out:
To see production photos and learn more about Allison, click here.
“Temptation” by Allison Merten
Directed by C.L. Manion
Filmed and Edited by Yasir Alhumaidan
Production Assistant – Caleb Behnke
“I swear t’God, Lorraine, y’leave y’r shoes in the aisle one more time, I’m gonna wring y’r neck!”
“Cool it, Blanche,” she took a drag of her cigarette as Blanche tumbled off the bus.
“Where the hell are we anyway? This isn’t Kansas City.”
Stretched out before them lay miles and miles of mid-June corn. A line of trees, another field. And the sun coming up over the edge. Blanche sniffed the air.
“Jesus,” she snorted, “We’re bleedin’ fumes.”
“Al left half an hour ago t’find a mechanic,” she crushed the butt beneath her heel, “I guess it’s gonna be a while.”
Blanche dragged a stray curler out of her hair. Somewhere in the corn a bird skittered and fled.
“So what, we’re just stranded here?”
“Looks like it,” Lorraine rubbed her cheeks, pushed back the corners of her eyes, “I wouldn’t be surprised if we missed Kansas City entirely.”
“That’s the second show this week. I knew I shouldn’t’a signed up for this outfit…an’ I bet’cha this is commin’ outta our paycheck, I tell y’what.”
“What paycheck? I work for peanuts,” Lorraine ground the dead cigarette into the dirt, “A regular circus elephant.”
“Aw c’mon Lorraine, y’thighs ain’t that bad.”
“Not when I’m standing next to yours.”
“Ouch,” Blanche wrinkled her nose, “Why you gotta be so sour, huh?”
“I’m not sour.”
“Sure you are.”
Lorraine wandered forward, pushing about the the scrabbled tufts of grass and weeds with the scuffed tip of her shoe.
“I don’t wanna do this anymore, Blanche.”
“Nobody wants t’do this anymore. First chance I get, I’m outta here. I got a friend at the Savoy, says they might need a singer – backups and whatever. As soon as we get back to -”
“I meant the whole thing.”
“You don’t wanna sing anymore?” Blanche raised her eyebrows to the limit.
“I don’t wanna sing anymore, I don’t wanna tour, I don’t wanna get on anotha’ stage again for the rest a my life. I’m through.”
“Aw, c’mon Lorraine, you don’t mean that.”
“The whole dream ’s broke down.” The words barely made it out before her voice clammed up entirely. Her face went flush in an unbearable heat under the cake of yesterday’s makeup. It was too much, and too cruel. Lorraine ran the edge of her hand under her eye to catch the damp.
“Hey, hey now,” Blanche cooed, setting hands upon her shoulders, “It’s not that bad. Look, you’re just tired and this tour ‘s been shit anyway. But you love singin’, you don’t really wanna quit that do ya?”
Lorraine looked away into the distance, willing dryer eyes.
“I tell ya what, soon as we get to Kansas City, you an’ me ditch this gig and go see my buddy at the Savoy – give it one last shot someplace decent, ok?”
Lorraine’s breath went heavy in her chest. She would’ve allowed herself to fall if Blanche’s hands weren’t still clinging to her shoulders. It was so much. The ashes of her career felt insurmountable. It would be easier to forget it entirely, pretend it never happened – to shut down that part of herself and replace it with something stable and numb. But then…she slowly nodded her head.
“Good,” Blanche said with more relief than joy, “Now why don’t we go sit down again, huh? Take it easy this mornin’.”
Lorraine sucked in her tears and wandered back toward the gaping door of the bus. Once more. On the distant edge of the road, she saw a pair of figures – Al the driver was returning with a mechanic.
The picture is a public domain image from Wiki Commons.
Allison Merten, the fabulous singer-song writer and my personal friend, is super excited for a project we’re about to do this weekend. And so am I!
Check it out…
So, this weekend I have the opportunity to get involved in an artistic project that doesn’t involve music.
I get to act! 🙂
Writer C.L. Manion is going to shoot her first short film this weekend, and I get to play one of the characters in this film.
The film is called “Horoscope.” The logline for the film is the following: “On the advice of a horoscope, a man delivers an odd gift to his girlfriend.” Are you intrigued? You should be! 🙂
C.L. Manion is a very talented writer. I was very fortunate to have edited one of her transcripts for a feature length film, and it was excellent! (Once it hits Hollywood, I will be sure to tell you what the name of that film is 😉 )
Photo by Maison Meredith Photography
You can check out some of C.L. Manion’s work here.
I’m really excited to…
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“Have you seen my earrings?” Bev zipped up the back of her dress.
“Did you check the thing?”
“Yeah I checked the thing.”
“Don’t worry,” Sal blotted out her cigarette, “They’re probably in other thing.”
“We don’t got another thing,” Bev shimmered frantically around the room.
“Well, then it must be in that one.”
“I packed them, right?” she tossed over pillows and empty dresser drawers, “I didn’t leave them in Cleveland?”
“How should I know? They’re your earrings.”
“Sally, can y’please?” Bev flicked her wrist, backhanding the air.
“What? So you’ll go on without earrings – big deal.”
“They’re my signature.”
“Signature?” Sal laughed, “Bev, we’re playing a cheap lounge with an out of tune piano, the hell do you need a signature for?”
Bev’s nose wrinkled sour.
“Why do you wear the same lace garter at every show, huh? We both know nobody sees it.”
Sal looked up to meet her eye and arrived at checkmate.
“I’ll help y’look.”
Lewis and Jacob laid on their backs and looked up at the stars.
“What’d’ya think that one’s called?” asked Lewis.
“That one,” he pointed, “With sort of the curvy bit there leading to the, um…kind of a jumble underneath it.”
Jacob tried to follow where Lewis was pointing. Not easily done, as they lay side-by-side and heads-by-feet.
“Must be Scorpio,” he guessed.
The sea swelled and sank beneath them in a languid undulation.
“I think I’m gonna be ill,” Lewis held his gut.
“How can you still be gettin’ ill?”
Lewis held his head over the side and made awful sounds at the water.
“Just bile at this point,” he said, splashing water on his face, “O God’av’mercy.”
“Don’t drink that – you’ll just get sicker. And lay back down.”
The boat rocked only gently as Lewis lay his scrawny limbs back down upon the slats. And again, they watched the stars.
“Look!” Jacob pointed, “Look at that movin’ one there! Must be a satellite.”
“Not an airplane?”
“No,” he said, “Too small a spec. Too far off.”
A breeze filled the wounded silence with salt-mist. A fitting response for the sea.
“Hey, what was that one called,” Lewis asked, “that they flung way out into the middle of nothin’?”
“Yeah, for exploring or something – carried a message and all that.”
“Voyager,” Jacob said.
“Yeah, Voyager! God, that must be somethin’…And boring. I mean – even surrounded by the beauty of the cosmos, you’re still just out there… in the middle of nothin’.”
“Very wise, Shakespeare,” Jacob grinned.
“What’d’ya think it thinks about?…y’know, if it could think I mean.”
Jacob considered a moment as the boat swayed to and fro.
“I think it sings,” he said.
“Oh y’know,” Jacob shrugged, “Whatever it fancies…my guess is ‘I’m A Little Teapot’ and ‘Dancing Queen’.”
Lewis laughed and gave a little kick at his head.
“You’re losing it aren’t you?”
“Me? No. You asked, and I answered.”
Again, they lay quiet atop the white noise of the water. Long moments passed.
And then Jacob started singing.
What started as a quiet hum-mumble grew bolder with each phrase. Slowly, Lewis joined in, and soon the two young men were singing – nearly shouting – ‘Dancing Queen’. All verses. All choruses. All the words that, in different circumstances, they would have denied even knowing. They belted out their defiant ABBA sing-along against the darkness.
And just as quickly it was over. And quiet again. They lay all the stiller, looking at the stars.
“Jacob?” Lewis asked.
“Do you think anyone’s going find us?”
Jacob took his time to fill his lungs for an answer.
“Yeah,” he lied, “Yeah, I think they will.”
There’s a piece by Schubert that sounds like water. A piano sonata that breaths and ripples as it floats away from the keys. Nelson had memorized every note.
It was the perfect thing to play, on an afternoon like this. The sun hidden behind soggy clouds, the lunch dishes washed and stacked to dry. Maxine at the far end of the table with her coffee and her paper. They had entered the docile half of a Sunday. And so Nelson played Schubert.
The familiar notes rolled out from under his fingers. Sometimes bold. Sometimes timid, almost… like the breath before crying. Then bold again. Like another lazy afternoon, now years in the distance. A rented boat and her new hat. And a sort of anxiety it would take him years to describe.
A trill and a run that runs out of steam at the top. Like a cartoonman over the cliff. You only fall when you realize you’re off the edge. A persistent build to a descending line. And she was so beautiful. Is. But the moments, then, were so fleeting.
The water melody smoothes out again. Rain started to tap upon panes. And Nelson played on.
Maxine glanced over the edge of her newspaper to see him tum-drumbaling along the edge of the table, head gently bobbing with the recording.
“You don’t play piano,” she said, pushing the gray out of her eyes.
Nelson nodded, grinning to himself, “Doesn’t matter.”
The piece is Schubert’s “Impromptu, Op. 90, No. 3 in G flat major.”
Here’s a link my favorite recording: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=03F-_c3FHtw
Most movies have music written for them. I’d like to think it can work the other way around too. Every now and again I find a piece of music I’d like to write a movie for.
For example, Mahler’s 5th symphony. Super dramatic, heroic. Thrilling and heart breaking in turns. There are points in the first movement when you can practically hear our hero’s cape fluttering behind him as he charges up the spiral stairs… of a castle… to dispatch or rescue accordingly.
And it would be that kind of film too – a swashbuckler. I’d love to see the marquee: “Mahler’s 5th” Starring Errol Flynn.
Every once in a while, music gets stuck in my head. Like a fly that found its way in the house, but cannot locate the nearby window to escape again. Sometimes it stays there for ages.
Once, I had the prelude to Wagner’s “Tristan and Isolde” stuck in my head for three days straight.
Not that that’s an entirely bad thing. ‘Tristan’ is one of my favorites. But there does seem to be a statute of limitations for pleasantness when it comes to this kind of thing.
By day three, I felt like the be-curlered old lady living in the apartment under a great party. Clad in my mental house-coat and faded flat slippers, I assaulted the ceiling with my theoretical broom, yelling ‘turn it down up there!’