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The Arsonists

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I believe it was Sunday the 21st – yes, it was a Sunday, I’m sure of it – when tragedy struck on the set of Scintillation.

Scintillation was a dangerous film to film, you see, for it details the life of a young author named Briant – but it’s not dangerous because it details the life of a young author, no, it’s dangerous because it details the life of a young author who’s writing about a man who burns down his house. But Scintillation isn’t dangerous because it details the life of a young author who’s writing about a man who burns down his house; it’s dangerous because the young author whose life it details attempts to burn down his own house in an effort to understand the mentality of the arsonist in his story.

For the first week we filmed the fantasies of the young author Briant, through which Briant comes up with the idea for his story. In these fantasies, a man grows increasingly frustrated with his wife, and so increasingly frustrated does he grow with his wife that he tries to capture her attention, and he tries to capture her attention by setting his house on fire. The problem that the young author encounters, which we filmed the second week, is that he’s not exactly sure what kind of insanity it requires to set your house on fire, and so increasingly frustrated does he become with his inability to understand what kind of insanity it requires to set your house on fire that he sets his own house on fire – a scene which we filmed in the third week, I believe, on Sunday the 21st.

So on Sunday the 21st – it was a Sunday, I’m convinced! – we had to set up the pyrotechnics and, using the pyrotechnics that we had set up, we had to burn down the house as if we were the young author in the script burning down his house as if he were the arsonist in his story burning down his house. And the pyrotechnics were indeed set up just as they were supposed to be, and we set them off to create the illusion that the young author Briant was burning down his house, but when the actor who played the young author Briant was placed inside the house so that he could act as if he were burning it down, the house did indeed burn down, with him inside it!

Try as they did, the firefighters could not extract the actor playing the author mimicking the arsonist whose actions he sought to detail in his writing, but the actor, valiant a thespian as he was, continued to pretend to be the young author Briant who pretended to be the arsonist so increasingly frustrated as to commit arson, which, in its own right, was what we committed that Sunday as well. For what is arson but the act of burning down a house, which is the act that the actor acting as the young author acting as the arsonist pretended to carry out, and we burnt down a house with an actor inside it – thus, are we not arsonists too? Yes, we are arsonists too, for we committed arson so that the actor involved could pretend to commit arson so that his character Briant could understand the mentality of an arsonist.

And the film came out flawlessly, just as we expected, because the actor continued to act, because the burning house continued to burn, because the pyrotechnics were flawless in a movie that was flawless showcasing an actor who, until the house burnt down entirely, delivered a performance that was flawless. The critics loved it – what a tragedy, they called it, Scintillation, the story of a young author who, in trying to understand what is to be an arsonist, becomes an arsonist himself. True, the story is a tragedy, but it is to my belief that on that Sunday the 21st – it was a Sunday, I’m quite certain – the greatest tragedy of all was that we, who had set up the pyrotechnics that burnt to a crisp the actor pretending to be an author pretending to be an arsonist who burns down his house, burnt down a house, and an actor, and became arsonists ourselves.



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