I'm in Hollywood - Chapter 18

[Updated at: 2021-01-11 10:13:24]
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Annie didn’t participate in the next appointment, Eric sent her home and planned to go see the owner of the bankrupt film company alone.

Getting off of the car, Aniston suddenly said: “Eric, can you leave your Home Alone script with me ? Maybe I could look at it and… help a little ?”

Eric nodded and said: “Sure, no problem, I made several copies.”

Aniston took the script, waved her little hand as Eric drove away, and went back into her apartment, a trace of resolve and determination now visible in her eyes.

In a cafe at Burbank, Eric met the owner of a small film company called Fireflies that Drew had talked to him about. Jeffrey Hanson was a white man of about fifty years old, with a somewhat haggard face. It looked like the termination of his company was a great blow to him, he appeared downright dispirited. Eric knew from his past experiences that the man probably needed to vent a little, so he didn’t rush to business right away, and patiently listened to him.

“My wife, Solina, was the valedictorian of the Southern California Film Academy, you know ? She and Francis Coppola were classmates, but she was just a girl from Maryland, her family heritage didn’t run as deep as his, otherwise, her achievements in the movie industry would be even higher than Francis’. She received a lot of awards when she was still in school.”

“At the time, I studied finance, I was what you’d call a nerd, God knows why a talented and beautiful woman like her would fancy me. She said she wanted to become a director, so I told her to stay in L.A so that we could develop together. I remember everything, from the way we struggled in the beginning to our first script investment; the happy smile she had back then, it was even more bright than the day of our wedding, when I put a ring on her finger. Later, we opened a film company and we named it Fireflies, she was the director, and I was her producer, I would help her take care of everything, we shot several films together, we even won a Special Jury Prize at the Venice Film Festival. Unfortunately, a year ago, when Solina drove to Maryland to visit her parents, there was an accident ……”

Jeffrey Hanson’s voice started to choke under his beard, anyone could see he had loved his wife deeply. Eric handed him a tissue, then quietly waited for the man to go on.

“After my wife left, I thought I should inherit her dreams, she wanted to make Fireflies grow, wanted to be a director with an Oscar as a recognition. I thought I could do it, I’ve been a producer for so many years, so directing shouldn’t be that difficult. So I mortgaged the company to raise funds in order to shoot a movie, but the result, was out of my expectations….”

“Don’t mind it Jeffrey, that’s only one failure, which Hollywood director has never experienced a setback ?”

Jeffrey rubbed his moist eyes, and said: “Thank you Eric, thank you, you listened to me blab for so long, I feel much better now. When the film company went bankrupt, my son almost broke ties with me as he blamed me for destroying his mother’s painstaking years of hard work…. I didn’t resent him, I was just sorry. Anyways, Drew said that you needed some people to make a movie ?”

Eric nodded: “Yes, but it’s only a 1 million $ project.”

Jeffrey shook his head and said: “1 million is plenty enough, the first movie my wife and I made cost us about 700,000$. Right, may I know how old you are ?”

“Of course, I’m eighteen years old. Jeffrey, you don’t think I’m too young or too impatient, right ?”

“No, I just want to make sure that you know what you’re doing, a million dollar is not a small sum.”

“Oh ?”

Jeffrey said: “I don’t have any prejudices towards young people. Many directors shot great movies when they were younger and turned mediocre in their later years. Youngsters have always been full of creativity, making movies is about transporting people, and I believe our team can help you with that. They were all personally brought up by my wife, they’re very professional and diligent, but because of me, they’re out of job. So you being here is really a good thing. Right, can I see your script ?”

“Sure.” Eric took out a stack of paper from his bag and handed it to Jeffrey, then quietly waited.

Ten minutes later, Jeffrey closed the manuscript, returned it to Eric, and said: “It’s a good comedy, the shooting shouldn’t be too complicated, for a first time, it’s really a wise choice.”

Eric put the script back in his backpack, looked at Jeffrey and asked: “So, Jeffrey, will you be the producer for this movie ?”

Jeffrey Hanson asked doubtfully: “Eric, are you sure ? My company went bankrupt because of me…”

Eric said: “Jeffrey, you might not cut it as a director, but from what I’ve heard, you’re a very good producer. If the film is successful, I will set up my own company, you can help me out and I can take in the team your wife left behind so that they won’t have to lose their jobs.”

Jeffrey was ecstatic, he had been frustrated after his failure and was planning to return home and farm for his remaining years. Eric’s suggestion wasn’t just benefiting him, but also his crew. Those people had collaborated with the couple for many years, they weren’t just in an employee-employer relationship, they were very good friends. His mistakes had made them unemployed, and he felt really guilty about it.

Jeffrey didn’t have to consider for long, he nodded and said: “Very well Eric, I promise you.”

“To our cooperation.” Eric excitedly clanged his cup of coffee against Jeffrey’s to celebrate their partnership.

Afterwards, the two men began to discuss about Home Alone.

During their talk, Jeffrey learned about what Eric had already planned, and he couldn’t help but be amazed.

“I want to complete the filming in about a month, and then take advantage of the Jurassic Park and 17 Again hype to release it in time for the Christmas season. The 20th Century Fox has exaggerated a lot about me as it was a good way to promote 17 Again, so as long as we can make a good film, it will certainly do well.”

Eric remembered that in his past, Home Alone was recorded in the Guinness Book of Records for its box office. This filled him with longing, even if in this world Home Alone got only half of his past entries, it was a more than enough ideal to him.

The two people kept chatting under the lanterns of the cafe, they talked a lot and left their respective contact information before they went their own separate ways, and Eric drove home.

He had just arrived that he received some good news: the Runkle couple agreed to let Stuart play Kevin. They discussed a bit the details and they also agreed on Eric’s offer of a 50,000$ paycheck and one percent of the box office’s profits.

Although it was only one-tenth of what Eric had earned in 17 Again, if the film had the same success as his previous life’s, that one percent of profit was enough to make that couple grin from ear to ear. Eric didn’t mind, after all, he needed Stuart to be the lead.

The next day, Eric had Jeffrey Hanson and the Runkles’ sign a contract. The couple also heard about Eric directing the movie and had some reservations, but once they received the 50,000$ check that Eric had deliberately prepared in advance, the contract was signed immediately.

Then there was the matter about the funds. Eric originally had about 600,000$, and after some negotiations with Michael Klaus, he readily agreed to advance 200,000$ of royalties within ten days. He also returned his newly bought Strauss piano, which the shop owner reluctantly agreed to take back, but not without lowering two thousand dollars of the original price.

For the last remaining 200,000$ dollars, Eric gritted his teeth and finally took a mortgage on the house with 10% interest per month, and if the money wasn’t paid in six months, his home would no longer be his. This was plain usury, ah !

Watching the check in his hands, Eric sighed. This plan of his was a drastic move, and in case he failed, he didn’t know if Aniston would agree to shelter him.

When he thought about that, he couldn’t help but remember Drew. His past 40-year-old self was experienced, and he could see how much the little loli liked him. If possible, he didn’t want to be too much in contact with her, especially now that the 17 Again movie was over. He cared a lot about her, but perhaps more like a father would his daughter than a lover.

It would probably take some time for the lass to get over her feelings, but in the meantime he really needed her help in order to complete Home Alone, which meant that the both of them were still quite not done interacting with each other yet.

Once they had all the funds, they were ready to shoot, so Eric and Jeffrey began non-stop casting for the crew. Eric had planned to pick the two robbers Harry and Marvin from some TV comedians, but after sending out several invitations, they were either not available or found the paycheck to be too low.

Going back and forth for a couple of days, Eric suddenly received a phone call from Aniston.

“What ? You’re saying your father is inviting me to dinner ?”

Aniston voice over the phone was tinged with excitement: “Yeah, you were frustrated for the past two days because you couldn’t find actors for Home Alone, right ? I told my dad about it, and he promised to help you find some comedians.”

Annie’s tone was very casual, but Eric knew that things weren’t so simple, so he was really moved. Her relationship with her biological father, John Aniston, was very strained as he had abandoned both her mother and herself to further expand his career, which made Aniston bear a grudge. The past John Aniston kept struggling to make good by his stubborn daughter, so it can only be imagined how hard it must’ve been for her to seek him for help.

Eric gratefully replied: “Thank you, Annie, I’ll be there on time.”