UNITED STATES—I have friends in high places. One of them is Jesús of Hollywood. He recently told me I was due a big payday. That reminded me of a motif running throughout the house management days. That would be the seductive idea of having it made. The quixotic idea of ‘having it made’ comes from gazing hungrily and enviously at those better off than we are. I think back on those times I was banking on having it made. There were many such times.
During the transitional time when I got dismissed from my friend’s itchy couch, I was helping a Colombian-American writer to adjust for English the language of his own translation of the story collection, “Made in U.S.A.” In addition the Silvia Martinez’ funny and scathing stories, the volume had drawings by Keith Haring. I never had a doubt it would be published by a prominent press in English. And I would get some ka-ching out of this literary labor–enough to spare me the unworthy existence as property manager.
Then there was the $creenplay, “The Strawberry Butterfly.” Gosh, I had it made. I was shaping and recreating this labor of love and money in tandem with an intelligent writer and director of an accomplished first film, “The Natural History of Parking Lots.” Of course I beheld Everett Lewis as someone who ‘had it made.’
It was going to sell for sure. I had the encouraging words of Everett, who sensed ‘Butterfly’ was a moneymaker.
Looking back, I see a passivity in myself in all this banking on another’s name and connections. Artists should be aware that the more one is passive, the harder it will bite you when the deal doesn’t come. Perhaps, I am being hard on myself. Deal or no deal, the collaboration was fun. When I am moving and active with purpose, regardless of profit, there is pleasure in the moment. Hustle is its own reward. The rest is cream, all cream…
Everett Lewis and I met weekly at the window booth in the Vagabond coffee shop. We had a lot of laughs and digressions. It was the most congenial of collaborations. I will make a bet that if you asked Everett the funnest collaboration in his directing career, he’ll reply it was “The Strawberry Butterfly.”
His gift for mapping out the story left me free to unleash my gift, which is for visual imagery, delving into dream worlds bordering on the surreal and making them tangible, for which film is the ideal medium. What it comes down to is poetry which dazzles and erupts independently of plot’s plodding logic. Everett came up with just the right amount of logic so my imagination could run wild. One of the most expressive images I recall is shown by a camera gliding over an incredibly green football field to reveal the hero, Bryan Kennedy, lashed to a goalpost in a thunderstorm.
It reflects Bryan grappling with his own dark side. Everett gave Bryan’s character a real arc: the football star who comes to a new high school realizes the harm he is doing and starts to question his involvement with Satanic ritual