Hollywood essentially shuts down from Thanksgiving through New Year’s Day. People are wrapping up projects and presents, clearing both the desk and the brain for the coming new year. Nobody starts a project in December.
But apparently my work on The God Helmet—or perhaps just the awesome idea itself—stimulated a nerve in the head of Salvador Prosciutto, the artistic end of the team of Sal and Tony Prosciutto, co-owners of Prosciutto Productions. Voldemort pitched the project to the brothers and they uncharacteristically lunged at the offer. This never happens, JC told me, it was “lightning in a bottle”. Voldemort and JC leaned on me to meet the Prosciuttos and hear them out. Even Leia advised that there was no harm in attending a meeting as long as I didn’t agree to anything. So I booked a quick roundtrip flight to LA like a bigshot Hollywood macher.
With half oan hour of sleep, a brief REM session just prior to waking, I rose from bed in a hypnagogic state. It seemed as if I was playing a role carried over from a lucid dream. I went through motions as if it was a normal day but it was not. I looked like me, and acted like me, but I was a new model Brightguy1000 Writer/Producer Robot on his first assignment, watching it all unfold.
I found the Voldemort Entertainment offices buried in the back of a nondescript concrete and glass building. Heavy steel doors barred entry to offices lining the hall. I opened the VE door with a twist of the knob and a hearty push. Concrete floor and glass cubicles, industrial and sparse, 1,000 square feet filled with file cabinets, binders, desks and computers. A small round conference table with four padded folding chairs in the middle. Minimalist and unweathered.
An elf welcomed me and offered me water and coffee. I waited for Voldemort to get off the phone. I’d seen his photo but never met him in person. In the photos he was always fresh but scruffy and showed a toothy smile. Probably around 40, fit and healthy. Married and divorced, with a kid, so I heard. That’s the person I was expecting to meet. First meetings are always awkward because everyone is evaluating and judging the other for trustworthiness and compatibility. The introductory business meeting is more like a first date. So I was surprised to shake the hand of Voldemort, 30 pounds overweight, wearing a flannel shirt and a 2-day beard. Leia told me later this was the “filmmaker uniform”.
We made chit-chat while we waited for Tony. Sal couldn’t come. Tony was the business end of the Prosciutto brothers. Valley traffic delayed him five minutes. We shook hands and exchanged pleasantries. He was short, wearing a maroon silk shirt open at the neck with gold chains visible, and a dark jacket. A firm handshake and a soft voice with a Jersey accent.
Here’s the thing, he said. Sal read the script. Sal likes it. We want to do the picture. We do these all the time. We’ve got some space in the calendar, we’ve got a crew standing by, and we can pencil it out and shoot it as early as next month. In Vancouver, with a Canadian director, Canadian crew, Canadian supporting actors. These are professionals, They are the kindest people you will ever meet, and they are not looking at their watches every five minutes like LA crews. We get Canadian tax credits and a sure entry into Canadian markets. We lower our risk and get our money back quicker, and that means that you get your money back quicker, and then we share profits.
It all seemed reasonable, even in my disoriented state. Tony didn’t mention anything about whacking anybody so I never felt in danger of my life. My legs worked, I could speak, and my watch ran clockwise, so I knew this wasn’t a dream. I even remembered Leia’s command and didn’t agree to anything.
We shook hands again and I promised Tony that I would think about it. He left and I chatted briefly with Voldemort and the elves. They readily confessed they had recently moved the office from down the hall in order to give the elves a brief noontime glimpse of the sun. I suspected there were kegs of wine or grog behind a cellar door somewhere but these remained hidden, and they did not order pizza, so I politely excused myself. I had a plane to catch.
The entire journey home continued the surreal day, with a twist. I felt privileged and superior, like a real Hollywood executive, and in my gut I knew how easy it would be to slip into a superiority complex, what with all the jetting around, meeting strange little men and talking deals, and consorting with dark lords and princesses. This was the life. I could be the next mover and shaker, taking off a month at a time to scout strange and exotic locales all over the world for my movies. Tony’s offer was worth considering. A turnkey operation in Vancouver. Start shooting within 60 days. Guaranteed international sales.
The Prosciutto Brothers hustled me in for a meeting two weeks before Christmas. Nobody does that. They wanted to make my movie, they wrote up a deal I felt proud and excited. Was my next exotic locale, perhaps, Vancouver?