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This Movie Will Be A Smash Hit
“Okay Jace, all you have to do is say your line, then Grant will shout his and then he’ll lunge at you and the camera will cut before he hits you, got it?”
“Fine. Got it,” I replied.
I didn’t really get it.
I mean I got the gist of it, act, that was the whole point of me being there, but I didn’t really get the whole lunge bit.
I mean, I got the gist of it, he punches me, that was effectively the whole purpose of this scene, I knew that, I helped write the thing. But I was a bit nervous, respectably, I mean neither of us had acted on camera before.
I mean, I had acted before so I understood the gist of it, but a camera isn’t a stage, this type of project was all kinds of new to me.
The idea of doing a staged punch on film was interesting, for starters, the punch wasn’t on stage, so why was it called a “staged” punch. Furthermore, unlike the staged productions I’ve been in, there wasn’t a real sense of choreography, and despite the script everything was effectively improvised.
I mean, I knew the gist of what I was doing, I’m Detective Dontae Becker, a drunken and defamed, yet somehow Holmesian, police detective. The character was all there. At least as there as any 8th grader would be expected to write, so his development was a bit paper thin, yes, but at least it was there.
And currently Detective Becker was interrogating Mr.Maximillian Mcbride, a man with a ridiculously cartoon-ish New Yorker accent, who is under suspect of killing his coworker Bella Ragazza. I’m sure there was a motive scribbled somewhere in the script, but who really cares. The only thing McBride was really good for, was for the director to show off her latent makeup abilities in giving me a black eye.
A black eye that would have to be punched onto my character. By an actor who doesn’t know what he’s doing. In a film project where no one knows what they’re doing. Needless to say I wasn’t exactly thrilled at the prospects.
Yet, nonetheless, I managed to put on my eager face, suit up in my ugly brown jacket and fedora, and filled my fake bottle of alcohol with as much water that was needed to chug the pain away.
And so there I was, sitting at a table that was dragged out to the middle of the art hallway, because it was deemed that when school was over, the back end of the hall apparently made for a great interrogation room. My lines were freshly glanced over, the cue cards stood on the ready, and the cameras were set.
Three, two, one...action!
“Whatever you got for me, I ‘ain’t talking. I’m expressing my freedom of speech,” Grant mutters, “I didn’t do anything!”
The scene so far plays out as expected. Becker presents photo evidence of Max’s muddy footprints outside of the crime scene, it’s seems to have worked in sweating him.
“I ‘dunno what you’re talking about. I ‘swears I didn’t do it.” Max rebuffs, stammering on every “I” like he confused the note of “nervously” with “stuttering.”
Oh no, I realize. The acting is bad. I mean, I had the gist that it wouldn’t be great, but this? I don’t know if it’s the writing, the directing or the lack of acting experience, but judging by the fact that I just said: “We found this in your darn house,” I’m assuming it’s all three.
And sadly, the acting only got worse the further into the scene and farther out of the range of our memorized lines we got. It was clear to see that none of us were comfortable on camera, and as such we both rushed through our lines just to make it go by a little faster.
Then finally, the moment was upon us.
“To heck with going easy! We got enough evidence to jail you for a lifetime!” shouted Becker.
Max’s eyes dart around the room, frustrated and scared, before slamming his hands on the table.
“I-I-Yo-YOU NEED A WARRANT!” Grant lunges, and time slows down.
Firstly, you don’t need a warrant to interrogate somebody who’s already in custody. I don’t think Maximilian was that well read on the law.
Secondly, I’m beginning to notice that Grant is coming at me way too fast and way too accurately to at all miss my face, and I know no one is yelling “Cut!” before this thing lands.
And third, this will probably hurt.
It’s just occurred to me in the course of writing this piece, that it never make much sense that Becker comes into the next scene with a black eye, because I most certainly got hit squarely in the nose.
My eyes instantly began to water, my nose began to heat up with the warm sensation of blood, and my face instantly recoiled with a crunching blow. For a “staged punch”, he hit quite hard.
“Oh shit,” Grant muttered under the sounds of my pained shriek.
The director clapped, “-And cut! Perf-Oh my goodness are you okay?” It was a stupid question, of course I wasn’t. No one likes getting punched in the nose, and they especially don’t like it when they explicitly expect to not get punched in the nose.
As sensation came back to me, I slowly gathered my composure and clenched my nose. “So,” I asked in dismay, “how’d the shot turn out?”
“Well...it looked really good. Obviously getting punched isn’t the best option, but, I’m sure it made for good practice on how not to throw the punch. And now, you’ll know how to react when we shoot it for real.”