Monday, April 24, 2006

Why me?

It might be very tempting tonight to use that title to ask why on earth it is that I'm inflicted with a step-daughter of more than usual ability to annoy but that'd be a purely rhetorical question. One might also argue that having married my wife I get what is due to me in much the same way that a man who overindulges in wine might suffer a hangover the next morning. From which introduction you might imagine that things have been happening tonight. To such a hypothetical question I merely ask, have you ever heard the expression 'chickens coming home to roost?'.

Nope, tonight I'm going to rave on about a little movie Gary made in June of 1976, called 'Why Me?' I wasn't involved in the production and indeed I didn't even know it had been made until he triumphantly showed it off.

By our standards it was pretty damn good; a drama of 20 minutes or so wherein the heroine gets involved in a bank robbery where a security guard is shot dead. The title came from her main speech, the one where she demanded, in highly emotional terms, to know why it was that the bank robber had involved her in a murder. Why me??? All kinds of justifications from the malefactor; He finds some drugs and says 'I told you I didn't want you involved in that kind of stuff!'. She tries to be coy and says 'hash and tobacco, makes you high, makes you feel good.'.

When we discovered that it was made and edited in just one weekend we were amazed. I don't know how long he'd worked on the script but I was impressed.

As with all of our productions we had no budget and relied on friends to be actors and production crew. I fear that by 1976 I'd impressed Gary as one with ideas but one who couldn't point a camera if my life depended on it. I wasn't a very good cameraman and a worse soundman. The problem with being a soundman is that it seems always to be the case that you have to manhandle a pole ten or so feet long with a large and heavy microphone at the end. It's heavy because it usually has a wind shield on it. It's obviously undesirable to have the end of the mike intrude into the shot but it's equally essential that it be pointed at the actor speaking the line. It takes a great deal of physical strength and endurance that I lack to fulfill both conditions!

I fear my acting ability was also lacking. Alan, the guy who played the bank robber, was no great actor but he could act rings around me! The girl, whose name I cannot remember, was not a lot better. I seem to remember that in late 1975 she expressed an interest in starring in porn films but we none of us was willing to appear on camera with her. Not even Robin! To this day I'm not sure if it was fear of the girl or the camera!

That said, I did once appear nude in one of our productions! We were doing a 'road safety' special. Don't ask me why a bunch of late teens were doing a road safety special; I don't know why. But make it we did. This was about a year before the WestGate bridge[^] opened. The western side of the freeway that leads up to the bridge stopped at Williamstown road though the roadway extended a few dozen metres beyond the exit. We set cameras up and I faked a car crash. Faking a car crash involved driving at immoderate speed, hitting the anchors and coming to a stop. Then we shot it again where I drove at a reasonable speed off the roadway onto the centre strip and hit the brakes. A little editing and it all kinda looked ok. After the car came to a shuddering stop I got out, held a bottle high and took a long swig! Geeze, I didn't even drink in those days!

So where did the nudity come into it? Glad you asked! Gary was directing and he wanted to show the progress from the start of a normal day, through drinking, to the fatal crash! As I was the star I was videoed waking up and showering. Given that the Freyer Street video centre was really a house pressed into other service it should be no surprise that it had a real bathroom with a functional shower and hot water system.

But I still have my doubts that it was really necessary that I shower nude on camera, though Gary assured me it was essential. Well, one takes one for the team occasionally though I wouldn't do it today. But then again, today, no one would ask me. An as near as dammit 52 year body is nowhere near as photogenic as a 23 year old one was!

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