A Laughing Matter
When I was twenty-four I got it in mind that I wanted to be a screenwriter. So I sold everything I owned that wouldn’t fit into a Chevy Chevette and drove across country to Los Angeles with my brother. It took me nine months to conclude that I did not in fact want to be a screenwriter, but in that time I managed to get an internship at Concord Films, a company that produced about twenty movies a year, all of which went straight to video, and all of which made a profit. My first job was to assist in the casting of Slumber Party Massacre III. We didn’t call it Slumber Party Massacre III, however; we called it Night Light. I believe the thinking was that the caliber of actor willing to audition for a movie called Night Light would be a touch higher than those willing to audition for Slumber Party Massacre III.
Casting decisions were made and shooting was scheduled to begin—but then a problem. One of the actresses was not willing to show her breasts on camera. Young shirtless actresses played a big role in Concord Film’s marketing strategy. So this actress was out, and we needed to find another soon.
Why I was in the room while this decision was being made I can’t remember. I only remember sitting against a wall watching my boss—a Stanford educated young woman a few years older than I who was also the movie’s writer/producer—laugh. She was on the phone to various talent agencies explaining that she needed an actress willing to take her shirt off prior to being killed with a power tool. Each time my boss hung up the phone, she laughed.
I can still hear her laugh. It sounded like a soprano machine gun. I actually liked this woman. I trusted her more or less, but she was on the run. I remember sitting with her on the set wondering what her actual laugh sounded like. It was all funny in a way in retrospect, and so perhaps some day she was able to laugh about it, but I didn’t know her long enough to find out. I moved to Seattle and married a woman with the nicest laugh I’ve ever heard.
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