I said a very pleasant, warm and grateful goodbye to my host in New Orleans yesterday afternoon at the airport. As I walked inside to the ticket counter the lack of momentum and the seeming impossibility of getting this story back on track weighed heavily on me.
Then I found out my plane was delayed two hours and that I would miss my connection in LA, requiring me to take the next flight out at six this morning. Waiting in the security line I called a friend in LA, who funnily enough I want to play one of the leads in the NOLA project and who said he was just about to call me when I rang. He was working on his TV show at Paramount to which he invited me to come hang for the rest of the night and then stay at his place. He even sent someone to pick me up. I changed my connection to a flight leaving at 11.
I wrote a couple of emails and read The New Yorker (great Gladwell article on The Late Bloomer by the way - thanks DM) while I waited for the NOLA-LAX flight. I couldn't help but think if things go the way I'd like I might be flying between LA and NO more often. But it really seemed like a distant fantasy. I had a sinking feeling that I was deluded to have ever thought such a thing, such was my disconnection to the script.
I managed not to dwell on it, diverting myself with the rest of the NYer and some Shostakovitch. Then somewhere over West Texas or New Mexico an idea surfaced. For the first time in a week I was able to say what the film was about in a sentence as several points of dramatic action and twists of plot came cascading over me. I quickly wrote them down, smiled to myself and then, before I could cast any doubts, distracted myself with watching ER on the in-flight programming.
I arrived in LA, stepped out to the curb into a car and was at Paramount twenty minutes later. I got to say I liked walking around the lot. Very nice feeling. Found my friend, hung out with him in his trailer until they came and walked us to set. The 2nd 2nd set me up with a chair in front of the monitors with the director, writer, UPM and scripty. They gave me a headset and I got to spend the next couple of hours watching my buddy work. It was great. I enjoyed the experience tremendously - I felt right-sized about things. I both learned a few things and felt confident that working on that level would not be a stretch for me.
While they were turning around, we took a tour of the sets and noticed on the plaque outside Stage 32 that Citizen Kane, Chinatown and the original Star Trek TV series had all been made on that stage.
We walked to his home after he wrapped. It was a beautiful night and a perfect ending to a long day. He has read my first draft of the NOLA script and knows of my interest in working with him on the film. He's interested and he liked my new ideas that I shared with him before going to bed.
I was dreading going back to Portland with the project dead in the water, instead I have a little spring in my step. The West Texas brainstorms may turn out to be duds, but they'll keep me moving at the very least. Which is all I really need.