It was the first shooting day in Morocco and everybody hoped it would be the last day. The sun was killing. Simply being under the sun would give you the burn, not to mention being surrounded by huge white plates from every possible angle. The high frame camera required an extreme lighting environment which normally caused most of the troubles in the whole shooting process. When it finally came to the actual performing part, Joe’s nerves also tensed up to their limit.
Don’t mess up. You’ve only got one chance.
It’s been about a week, he still got nervous when it came to the rehearsals. “It’s not like any other movies,” Joe could still recall the words of Garrett, “Normally you’d have plenty of opportunities to try it on and being corrected if your performances go sideways.”
But not here.
Joe took a deep breath and looked straightforward.
“What kind of car?” Garrett, no, Sergeant David Dime barked from the shadows.
Joe’s heartbeats fastened. Now it’s his turn.
“Brand new Saab, convertible with graphite-alloy rims," He paused to take more air, “And I chased after him with a tire iron, just uh, I just wanted to see him run.” He felt his mouth was watering, so he spitted. He stared at the small patch of ground which had been wet by his sweat, and continued, “My dad was able to get them to drop the charges if I went to the recruiter’s office the next day----”
And he stopped again.
He had to look at Garrett but it was hard. The sunlight was so sharp that he could barely open his eyes, not to mention finding someone hidden in the shadows. But how come a soldier look blank while answering to his superior?
Anything less than authentic will be exposed. Joe still remembered what the director said about the new technology. Being authentic.
He could literally hear the clock tickling but he was still trapped. The whole set was waiting and he had to do something, right away.
He wiped the sweat from his face. And just as he put down his hands and looked up, he threw the rest of his lines:
“No regret, Sergeants.”
No focusing, no pretending, just let the eyes switching, because he was after all answering to TWO superiors, a fact which he kept forgetting.
And thank God he hadn’t completely lost his sanity.
The formal shot went extremely smoothly. Everybody was complimenting his performance, but he knew if it wasn’t Garrett who moved a little bit while he was saying those lines, the whole scene might not turn out so well.
And for that, he just couldn’t be fully relieved.
He moved towards his chair, beside which sat Mason Lee. As the son of a famous director, Mason wasn’t spoiled or entitled at all. He resembled his father in many ways, the appearance, for sure, the quietness, the intelligence, and the way they talk - for many times Joe had mistaken Mason’s voice for Director Ang and was laughed at so badly by the staffs - but Mason was much more humorous, not that Ang wasn’t, but Joe regarded him as a mentor, just like Shroom to Billy. When Joe mentioned this to Mason, he burst into laughter.
“You know you are more of my father’s son than I am.” Mason teased, then he held a poker face and examined Joe from head to toe, “Actually you two look like each other too.” Mason took out his phone, swiped the screen until a picture jumped out. It was a much younger director, Ang Lee, holding a bundle of books and looking a bit lost in the photo.
Joe had to admit somehow they were alike. Not genetically, but they all had this indifferent look in the eyes.
“See?” Mason looked rather rapturous, “You should play him in his autobiography.”
They looked at each other, trying to be cool, and then laughed to tears.
And that’s how they became good friends.
As Joe sitting down, Mason passed a bottle of water to him, saying: “Hey man, don’t be too harsh on yourself. Garrett meant good. You know that, do you?”
It looked like everybody had noticed. He looked down, eyes on the ground.
“You know, you really shouldn’t be the nervous one.”
Vin Diesel was walking along his way, accompanied by Garrett. Joe looked back to the ground again.
“Well, boy, you've never made a movie before, so for you, it’s what it is." Diesel sat down, “But other than you, anyone who had shot a movie before, including the Director himself, was trying extra hard to get rid of whatever that's already in the head. You’ve got huge advantages we all craved.” He patted Joe on the shoulder, “You did fine, and you WILL be fine.” then he laid back on his chair.
Joe had to admit, Diesel was really good at comforting people. But he was still trapped in this weird melancholy. It wasn’t the help he got that bothered him. Everybody needed help and he was perfectly comfortable with it. Just not in this way. Not from him.
Joe was a bit terrified by what had just come to mind. He shook his head as if the dangerous thought could be driven out. Then he looked around, decided not to think about it anymore.
No one spoke anymore. The crew staff was moving the properties for the next scene. Mason and Diesel had closed their eyes for a snap. Beau Knapp was reading the scripts. And Garrett, head tilted skyward, eyes closed, probably was thinking God knows what.
Everything seemed fine. And just when Joe was about to close his eyes, Garrett broke the silence, “Have you ever been to somewhere else as warm as Morocco?”
What a strange question. He didn’t even prompt a name, but Joe knew it was for him. And he was glad that he asked. He needed to talk.
“Yes. South Africa. My father went there to make a film when I was 14.” Joe recalled the heat and dust back then.
“Beyond the Gates. Right?”
Joe turned to him, shocking, “You knew it?”
“I’ve watched it, and I like it.” said Garrett with a minor smile, “It must be very hard to make a movie like that. How much do you remember?”
“Not much of the production. I focused mainly on the acting part.” Now that he thought through the whole acting process, he was impressed by the tacit coordination between the performers.
“Did your father know about your dreams? To become an actor?”
“Keep everything to yourself, huh?” Garrett laughed, “Well done!”
His laughter cheered Joe up. “But my father wasn’t surprised either when I signed up for drama school.”
“You have a very good father.” Garrett had this strangely slow and round accent which made everything he said a bit heavy, and Joe wondered if this sadness in this sentence was caused by his accent.
“Not bad, I suppose.” Joe paused for a second. It wasn’t a good idea, but he couldn’t resist the temptation, “How about yours?”
“Mine was just a normal one.” Garrett’s voice didn’t change, nor did his tone. “You see, I was brought up in a farmland.”
He stopped. For no reason, Joe held his breath, waiting.
But Garrett didn’t carry on.