I'm in Hollywood - Chapter 19

[Updated at: 2021-01-11 10:13:24]
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“I don’t like you, Mr. Williams.” Taking advantage of his daughter going to the bathroom, John Aniston who was sitting opposite Eric suddenly said.

Although Eric was startled, he only shrugged and asked: “May I know why, John ?”

John Aniston said: “For so many years Jenny has hated me, and I always felt guilty about it. I kept wishing she’d forgive me, and last night she called me. She actually took the initiative to call me, you know ? I was so happy I couldn’t sit still, and turns out, the reason she called was to help her boyfriend, a guy that was going to take my baby away from me.”

Well, that reason wasn’t too shabby, daughters were the apple of their father’s eyes, and so they generally didn’t have a good relationship with their son-in-law.

Eric only shrugged again, and the two men were suddenly stuck in an awkward silence.

Aniston soon came back from the bathroom, and smiled as she sat besides Eric, that intimacy only added to John’s anxiousness, but his good daughter had taken the initiative to speak to him after so long, he wouldn’t be stupid enough to ruin this.

With their reconciliation, the meal went fairly smoothly on the surface. When John took the air of an elder and reprimanded Eric for being too ambitious, Annie started to angrily glare at him, and he finally agreed to help him contract some actors.

With John Aniston’s wide network of contacts in the television industry, Eric was able to soon deal with the majority of the roles, and thanks to the former’s mediation, their pay wasn’t too high which relieved him.

However, Eric was still hesitating between several candidates when it came to the two robbers duo, until Aniston introduced him to one of her classmates. Looking at that naturally declining face that had even been retouched in front of the mirror, Eric settled on it right away, because that guy was called Matthew Perry; one of the past six leads from Friends.

Then Eric and Jeffrey flew to Canada a few times, and ultimately settled on a home located in a small town as the filming location. They busied themselves day and night, so much that Eric even lost a few pounds in just one week, which made Annie both distressed and envious.

October 17th, Eric’s first project as a director since his rebirth in Los Angeles, was finally starting. The crew sent a few people to the town they had decided on in Canada for the scenes that happened at home, the rest stayed in L.A to shoot the ones at the airport and police station as those didn’t require any snow. With Hollywood being the world’s largest movie base, shooting here was a lot more convenient.

The entire crew from the gaffer to the actors, didn’t agree to be a part of the project because of the money, but were basically giving John and Jeffrey face. Although they had their misgivings towards Eric, they also had their own motives in mind.

They had learned about the Home Alone script’s content, and were very glad that this young director wasn’t like those other debuting snobs who would never film something so “cheap” as they didn’t consider it as art. The likelihood of success for the movie was quite high, and it only costed 1 million to shoot it. Relying on Eric’s 17 Again and Jurassic Park momentum, perhaps they might even earn a little extra as Eric had promised them a bonus if the film made it big.

In order to repay Eric who had provided his late wife’s team a job, Jeffrey Hanson appeared on the set everyday on time, wanting to guide the “novice” with his years of experience. But after a day, Jeffrey began to seriously question life, or more precisely, God’s fairness.

The kid didn’t have the impatience of a first timer, he was more like a director with many years of shooting experience. He very orderly and methodically reorganized the set design and the props, he used professional terms to discuss shots with the cameraman, he directed the lighting division to get the desired effects, he was even patient with the dramatic actress that played Kevin’s mother and who was ten years his elder….

Of course, when consecutive errors occurred, he also showed a director’s unique skill: the director’s roar !

“Ms. Leslie, I want a puzzled expression, a confused expression, not a CURIOUS one ! According to my observations, you have an obsessive-compulsive disorder, then it should be easy for you ! Just imagine yourself lying in bed at night, when you suddenly hear dripping sounds coming from the kitchen faucet but you can’t seem to be able to find where the leak is. Picture that emotional conflict when you act. Damn it, we’re only leasing this aircraft for three hours, THREE HOURS ! Now everyone get in place, and Nicole, how do you think we’ll be able to see the sky if you keep aiming your camera at the titanium alloy ceiling of the plane, be a bit more focused, FUCK !”

Due to Eric’s excellent performance, all of the crew had recognized his position as the director. So when Ms. Leslie who played Kevin’s mother kept making mistakes on the plane scenes, Eric who was getting anxious because of the shooting schedule, couldn’t help but roar out, and everyone present unconsciously forgot about his age as they turned completely silent.

Nicole Frank, a 30 year-old cameraman, didn’t even think about the fact that he had just been scolded by a brat, he subconsciously apologized: “I’m sorry, Director Williams, I will pay attention.”

Many years later, when Nicole Frank would win the Oscar for best cinematography, today’s scene would be the first thing he remembered as he stood on the podium of the Kodak Theatre: “At that moment, my subconscious completely gave in to Eric’s authority as the director, rather than seeing an eighteen-year-old boy, I saw a man born to command.”

After another NG, they finally wrapped the scene up, and Eric breathed a sigh of relief as he took the initiative to apologize to Ms. Leslie: “I’m sorry for being so harsh with you just now, Ms. Leslie.”

“Never mind, director Williams, I was the one in the wrong. Besides, you look quite charming when you’re angry.”

“That….” Eric wanted to remind her that that was a precursor of the Stockholm syndrome, she should probably get that check, sigh.

The next few days, Eric realized that every single member of the crew had changed their terms of address to “director Williams”, and even Jeffrey Hanson was no exception. Eric knew that these people had acknowledged him from the bottom of their hearts. Therefore he started directing with renewed enthusiasm, so that in four days time, they had wrapped up the scenes that needed to be shot in L.A. Thus, the whole team left for the small town in Canada.

Before, several staff members were sent to take care of Kevin’s home setting, although he had dealt with everything through the phone, Eric was very satisfied after seeing how everything had been arranged, and also became determined to do all he could to keep Jeffrey’s crew around.

The town located in northern Canada had never experienced the shooting of a movie, so the residents of the town were very enthusiastic and curious. Eric hadn’t come yet that there were already people asking for small roles. Moreover, since they were shooting with a Christmas setting, all the residents took the initiative to dress up their homes, and the entire town was clouded in a festive atmosphere.

Faced with this, Eric reciprocated very generously as he invited several children to appear in cameos.

The only thing they had to film in this Canadian house, was Kevin pranking the two robbers, the movie didn’t really have any Christmas connotation, it was just pure comedy. Coupled with Stuart’s performance that was even better than his past life’s Macaulay Culkin by many times, the shooting process could only be described as fast. Eric determined that they would be done wrapping everything within a week.

At the same time, in Los Angeles, the 17 Again crew was starting to panic. Penny Marshall needed Eric to dub some shots, but suddenly discovered that he had gone AWOL; his phone wasn’t connecting and his doors stayed firmly closed, which alarmed the woman as she thought that he might have found trouble for himself, so she could only contact Aniston to learn about his whereabouts.

Getting his contact number, Penny started to complain on how he had to return to L.A within a week’s time, and that in addition to the dubbing he needed to do, he also had to be there for the promotion of the movie.

Naturally, Eric’s filming of Home Alone was also exposed. In this regard, Penny Marshall acted like a benevolent elder as she criticized him some for reaching too high, but she also didn’t mind that much, he had probably just put together a shabby crew and shot a nonsensical movie like every young aspiring directors.

Eric was caught between work and reality, and although his relationship with the crew was good, it was only so. Matthew Perry would chat with him from time to time in between sets, and Eric was also very interested in him, but unfortunately his focus was solely on how to quickly wrap up Home Alone, so they didn’t have that many opportunities to make better acquaintance.

A week later, they successfully finished the filming in the town, and thanks to Jeffrey and Eric’s meticulous planning, they had only spend 600,000$, leaving them with about 300,000$ which was more than enough to complete the post-production.

Eric was in a generous mood as he threw an open party for the whole town. The next day, while many people were still in a hangover state, he was already on his way to catch a flight back to Los Angeles.

It took half a day to complete the 17 Again dubbing, and Eric then started to frantically busy himself with things that Jeffrey had assigned him.

These days, he basically worked for more than sixteen hours a day, and to everyone’s surprise, was done with the late completion of the film in only five days. He had the whole thing in his mind, so his speed was obviously astounding, he had even used less than a day for the editing process, which made his editor now look at him with eyes full of worship.

Five days later in the morning, a dozen of people were squeezing in a shabby theater with only five or six descent seats. Most of them were the Home Alone crew, and Aniston had also come to watch Eric’s work.

After a slight hum of the projector, a hazy silhouette of a blue house under the dim moonlight appeared, and the movie started…