The Trickster Diaries/Chapter 49
First live action scene with dialogue comes at about the 10 minute mark. LaFong, (can anybody other than somebody connected with the estate of the late W.C. Fields tell us where that name came from?), pulls into a lonely desert motel in a white, ’86 Lincoln Town Car, gets out, pets a black cat, checks in. Walking towards his room he encounters a lovely young woman dressed in black fishnet. She’s smoking a cigarette, standing seductively in the doorway of room # 2.
LaFong: Hi. I’m Carl…
Hooker: Why is the quantum double slit experiment so important? I mean, who cares if light is a particle or a wave? Do you care?
LaFong: (Taken aback but recovering stride) Well, I… care that God’s light is on me and that I shed his light.
Hooker: (Laughs) God? God is a personification of the energies of the universe. (Pauses, puts out her smoke, steps toward him) You see, there’s truth, (Pokes him on the forehead with her index finger), and there’s myth. (Pokes him in the center of his chest, turns, steps back inside her room, turns to face him) Goodnight, Carl.
LaFong’s mouth drops. He remains motionless for a moment, then walks away, turning around once as if to say: “Did that really just happen?”
In other words, “Welcome to 29 Palms, stranger. Things are a little upside down around here.”
That scene took forever to get right. Camera panning right to left. Wide shots, close-ups of the hooker, (Candy), close-ups of LaFong, (Greg). We just barely got it in before it was too dark to continue, and right after—because Candy had to smoke approximately 10 cigarettes back to back—she vomited.
Plus, shooting it semi guerilla style at Jan’s motel, we were interrupted by others checking in for real and wandering around, asking questions; even by Jan himself who hung around, unable to take his eyes off Candy, freezing her in his dirty old Scandanavian man memory for later.
But nailing the lines, the expressions, the timing, fine tuning the body language—what a rush it was for these young actors, theatre actors who’d never worked in front of a camera before.
I was elated, proud of them/us. Strange, I thought, how you can bond, become like family over a single scene in a silly movie. Greg must have walked a dozen times from the Lincoln, (which was actually Jan’s car), to that motel room door before getting it right, or before I got the pan right. And poor Candy, all those bloody cigarettes.
I knew right then I’d never forget that day. That sequence of action and intent and unforseen consequence connected everything. Beyond question it connected me more deeply with Casey, who’d made my return to college and all the necessary technology possible; and to El—art professor from Mars—who’d suggested I move from still visual art to film and storytelling. It linked me more closely to Dr. Bleckman, who’d unselfishly saved my deteriorating vision, and it brought into clear focus the reason I’d abandoned a successful business in L.A. in favor of the unknown.
Most magnificently, I realized, fully inhaling the moment, it threw a hook back to that crazy, metamorphic summer morning circa 1966, and for the first time ever I understood what my otherworldly conversation with the defiant black horse was really, truly all about.
That night I emailed Mike, told him the story. He wrote back immediately, offered to help fund the project.