Sunday, June 06, 2004

When I went to the LA Gun Club shooting range this weekend, it suddenly reminded me of an event in my life, something that happened to me that I had tried to put out of my mind:

The time I got shot.

Things like that can be pretty traumatic – taking a high-caliber bullet in the chest, your guts splattering out, getting knocked back on your ass, laying on the floor, dying, as the blood soaks your clothes...

Of course, I’m talking about a movie I was in.

Yes, once again, a fellow writer friend cast me in his film. He had gotten a small break when a very, very minor indie company let him helm a direct-to-video feature. It was especially startling because a few months earlier this friend was broke, crashing on my couch. Now he wanted to return the favor to me. Even though the movie would be starring some aging B-level former TV stars and character-actors, it was going to be non-union. So, he told me, his friends could have small parts and maybe I could even get to say a few lines of dialogue.

I thanked him but let him know that I didn’t care if I never got to say a word. I wanted to get shot. I had read the script, and knew it was a shoot-em-up action flick. My friend was trying to channel Sergio Leone when he wrote it. Pistol-packin’, tough-talkin’, Mexican-standoffin’ stuff with stock footage of things blowin’ up real good. I told my friend, if I can shoot someone, great, but even better if I could get shot. Man, that would be cool...

Well, I got my wish and I was right. The last night of production, I was there on the set for the big show-down. Me and a few other guys versus former TV star and B-level actors in the requisite Abandoned Warehouse. When my moment came, I did what actors love to do – tear up the scenery, literally. I threw over an huge metal desk – bam! -- knocked an old computer onto the floor – crash! – and used the desk to shield me as I came up, gun blazing – bang, bang! – but Former TV Star was a better shot – blam! – nailed me in the chest, the squib exploding – splat! – and I fell back against the wall – slam! – slid down – uh... slide! – leaving a trail of blood on the wall, and fell to the floor – dead! I mean, dead.

There was still more to the scene. The villain and hero had to go mano-a-mano. Check the Peckinpah handbook – it’s the rules. So I had to lay on the floor, dead, while these two postured for a while and then finally pulled the trigger on each other. It was three in the morning, we had been there since 7AM, and I was covered in sticky type AB negative corn syrup. But I didn’t mind. Really. I was in a movie. Hooray for Hollywood, dude.

The worst part was waiting for those last gunshots. It’s not as bad when you’re firing the gun -- you know it’s coming, but when you’re waiting and waiting and then BLAM, the air shattering with the force of those blanks going off. I cringed uncontrollably at every take...

Being at the LA Gun Club triggered (no pun intended) that memory. The damn noise of those handpieces going off. Even with the earphones on... Real or prop guns, I just forgot how friggin' loud they were...

You may ask, why did I put that memory out of my mind? After all, I wasn’t really shot. It was just a movie.

But it was a pretty crappy one.

Wasn’t my friend’s fault; he had nothing to work with. The movie had zero budget, a lightning fast shooting schedule and difficult actors -- one of the former TV stars was hitting the sauce between takes and repeatedly flubbed the lines. Oh, yeah, and let’s not forget the corpse that kept flinching at all the loud noises...


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