Sent: Friday, April 15, 2005 1:52 PM
Subject: RE: Astin Project
I think we can all that agree that he's over-eager. I'll have a conversation with him next week, make sure he understands that we'll pull the plug if we don't like what we see after the band gets out on the road.
Sent: Friday, April 15, 2005 1:36 PM
Subject: RE: Astin Project
Also, I've got sixteen e-mails with requests for a second PA. Anybody want to tell him he wasn't even supposed to have a PA in the first place?-----Original Message-----
Sent: Friday, April 15, 2005 1:08 PM
Subject: RE: Astin Project
Have you tried watching his dailies with the sound off? I recommend it.-----Original Message-----
Sent: Friday, April 15, 2005 12:23 PM
Subject: Astin Project
Can someone please explain to me why I just watched two hours cut footage of a nose flute recital? This guy is out of control ....
Sean's production assistant is named TJ. He's never asked what "TJ" stands for, but right about now he's thinking it could stand for "total jerk." In his head, Sean has been graph-plotting TJ's arrival time at rehearsal warehouse each day and a sharply declining trend has emerged, hitting a new all-time low of three o'clock this afternoon.
"C'mon, TJ," Sean says when TJ shuffles into the janitorial closet Sean's commandeered for a production office. "You gotta start coming in on time, I've got a ton of stuff for you to do." It's true: he needs TJ to take some film to the lab and pick up what Sean himself dropped off on Tuesday, and there's a mountain of archived concert footage to go through, and --
TJ looks unimpressed. As well as uninterested, unawake and hungover. Again.
"Chill out, man," TJ says, scratching the back of his neck. "Also, oh, I forgot to tell you, my uncle wants you to call him. He hates your dailies."
Unfortunately, the list of TJ's unfavorable attributes must always be revised with, "is the executive producer's nephew."
"What?" Sean says. TJ's off-hand delivery of this news instantly makes Sean feel sick to his stomach. "Did he really say that? What did he say?"
"Dunno," says TJ. "Hey, I'm gonna go get some coffee. You want some?"
Sean shakes his head, too distracted to even remember to tell TJ to take the film to the lab while he's out on what will undoubtedly turn into a three hour coffee run. He reaches for the phone, which is balanced precariously on a shelf full of cleaning fluids. The janitorial staff said it was fine if he put some of his stuff there because they're not allowed to use most of their usual products while the band is renting the space anyway. He starts to dial, figuring he might as well get the unpleasantness out of the way and, hey, maybe it's all just a big misunderstanding.
"Sean, hi, I'm glad you called," Mark says when he finally gets put through. Sean tries not to obsess about whether or not Mark actually sounds glad. "I thought you were going to call Monday."
"I--" Sean starts. He can't think of the diplomatic way to say that it's TJ's fault.
"We need to talk about the stuff you've been sending," Mark interrupts. "I'm starting to get concerned about what I'm seeing. How should I put this -- it seems like there's not a lot going on."
Sean thinks that if it seems that way, it's because, frankly, there isn't a lot going on. "Hey now," Sean says. "This is just the beginning! We're, you know, in the rehearsal phase right now, but soon we'll be out on the road, and--"
"Sean," Mark says, "I saw Don't Look Back. I saw Bat Out of Hell. I have seen bands rehearse. This is-- this a bunch of people eating take-out and playing musical chairs."
"Uh, it's not musical chairs," Sean says before he can think better of it.
"Well, what is it?" Mark says. It's a question but halfway through he sounds distracted, and not entirely interested in what the answer will be.
"Sit," he says, even though he so doesn't even want to get into it (also, he's not always sure that it's actually different from musical chairs except that they say it is) and what he wants to talk about is TJ and how he's not exactly helping the problem and how it's a wonder that Sean has managed to get anything on film at all, having to do everything on the production end of things himself.
"Sit?" Now Mark's definitely barely even asking. Sean feels a headache forming between his eyes, but it could just be the cleaning fumes.
Sean knows it would be suicide to complain to Mark about nepotism, but that doesn't mean that it doesn't make him crazy, because TJ should know what Sean knew when he was TJ's age: nepotism means that you have to work twice as hard because people are expecting half as much from you.
"Yeah, Dom and Billy made it up," Sean says, thinking that if Mark has watched more than a minute or two of the dailies he's sent, that should explain everything. And then, "Hey, look, can we talk about TJ? He's never here, and when he is here he doesn't work, and I just--"
"I wouldn't worry about it," Mark says quickly. "He's not even budgeted for when you go out on the road. And if I were you, I'd concentrate on that, because if I don't like what I see over the next couple weeks, you'll find that the entire project has no longer been budgeted for. Are we clear?"
"Yeah, we're clear."
"Oh, and Sean?"
"Try to shoot some more of that Orlando kid."
Before Sean can tell Mark how well that would go over, Mark hangs up.
TJ's still not back when Sean emerges from the production-office-slash-janitorial-close
Karl and Liv are sitting on the floor in the middle of the room, surrounded by a loosely circled island of folding chairs. They're playing something Sean doesn't recognize -- which means there's a good chance they're just making it up as they go along -- while Orlando, Viggo, Dom, Billy, Daisy, Sala, Lawrence, Elijah and Chuck and Larry -- the sound techs -- push, pull and shove each other out of various chairs.
As far as Sean remembers from birthday parties in his childhood, the object of musical chairs is simple: be sitting in a chair when the song is over. The object of Sit seems to be equally simple but inverse: sit in as many chairs as you can before the music stops. It's more complicated than that, though, because there's a set of unwritten rules that Sean has given up trying to have explained. He knows that you get one point for each chair you sit in, two points for every time you sit in Viggo's lap when he's sitting in a chair, three points for every chair you keep Elijah from sitting in, four points if you pull Orlando's pants down while he's standing and five points if you pull his pants down while he's sitting in a chair. But the list goes on and is subject to unspoken revision at any time.
Daisy and Elijah are in the process of earning five points apiece and Sean thinks he should go get the camera but then realizes that a) he's out of film and b) there's no point. Liv and Karl end the song sharply at mid-verse and Elijah jumps up on the chair he was occupying. "Twenty-seven points!" he says. "Hah! Beat that, hmm?"
Dom strokes his chin. "Wait a minute. Bills, what about the virgin forests rule?"
"Oh, right, right, right, virgin forests rule," Billy says, eyes twinkling. "Really a shame, that."
"What's the virgin forests rule, you goatfucker?" Elijah says. He tries to stamp his foot for emphasis but the chair he's still standing on wobbles precariously so he jumps down.
"The virgin forests rule," says Dom. "If Elijah gets more than twenty points," he pauses dramatically, "the round is forfeit. So sorry, Lij, better luck next time."
"Hey!" Elijah says, and before it can degenerate into a chair war that doesn't end until somebody gets a cracked rib (this always happens and it's usually Orlando), Liv waves at Sean and says, "Hi, Sean. Wanna play?"
Sean crosses his arms in front of his chest and frowns. "Guys, we need to talk," he says. He's not sure what he's going to say, because trying to get them to care about the documentary won't work, appealing to their professionalism as artists definitely won't work and asking Dom to explain the virgin forests rule is pointless.
"I think," Sean says. He's actually got their attention, so he should really say something. "At some point, we need to stop fooling around, okay? All we do is order food and play games and when we do actually rehearse, we're just finding things to change for the hell of it. I mean, this is getting ridiculous. We've changed the drums on 'Sandinista Rock' fifteen times!" That last part maybe has nothing to do with anything else, but it's really fucking annoying, but while he's thinking of it, the re-learning is really fucking annoying.
For a good long moment, nobody says anything. Finally, Dom says, "Did you hear that, Vig? Sean says we've changed the drums on 'Sandinista Rock' fifteen times."
"Is that right?" Viggo says. He's grinning, his big scary I-broke-my-tooth-on-my-guitorgan-and-fin
Suddenly there's a flurry of movement. Karl and Liv stand up, Elijah and Daisy start folding the chairs. Orlando is leaning against Viggo and laughing helplessly. Billy and Dom run up to Sean and before he even realizes it, Billy's grabbed him around the middle and Dom's thumping him on the back and Sean's laughing despite himself. He's not an idiot, he knows when he's been made the butt of the joke, but he's learned over the years that if the joke doesn't involve his extra battery pack, women's underwear or head cheese, it's better just to show he's not afraid to have a little fun at his own expense.
And then everyone's filing out of the room, and Dom and Billy release him without too much scuffle. "Never change, mate," Billy says and Sean shrugs, a little helpless and not a little confused.
But then, Viggo claps Sean on the shoulder as he passes. "Hey, c'mon," Viggo says. "It's time to go on tour."
Sean stares at the empty room. It's what passes for the decision making process, and Sean didn't even get it on camera.