November blew in with gale force winds. We had a major blow on the first, with all sorts of branches and trees down, usually on somebody’s car. By early evening, I was surprised the power was still on. I was a little wary leaving the house. Much as I enjoy bad weather and high winds, I don’t enjoy having my skull caved in by flying debris. But I had an appointment to make. A summit had been called. And the commute was only a block away.
Despite being only a stone’s throw from my destination, I took a side trip to a local SAQ to buy some wine for the occasion. What’s the point of a meeting of the minds on a stormy day unless we’re braced with a booze-up? Rubble from all the wind was strewn down the aisles of our government-sanctioned-and-run liquor outlet that day. Every time the door opened, more twigs and leaves blew in, making the place look even shabbier than the regulars.
Having secured an old reliable bottle of Californian cab, I walked back down to the street to the house where we were all to meet. I rang the bell while chatting with the other early arrivals. It took a while to realize no one was answering. The power had finally gone out, and with it the doorbell.
Once we finally made it in and all the other invitees had gathered, we settled down to our drink and dinner by copious candle light. I felt like I was in a scene from Barry Lyndon. With no lights or television or computers or other electric-powered gizmos to distract us, it was just a bunch of people talking and connecting. I later compared notes with other people who had the same experience that night in other locations, and we all had a similar reaction. This is what a proper evening of dinner, conversation and interaction should be like.
The meeting, in case you were wondering, was an informal conference for various connected people who work in the film industry in various capacities. We were summoned to offer advice and counsel for someone about to embark on a first short film project. I don’t know how helpful our input was, but I did come away from this meeting with a piece of cautionary advice – not for prospect filmmakers, but for celebrities.
Yes, celebrities, movie stars, big-name actors, take heed. When film industry professionals gather – the lowly people on the totem pole like crew members and writers and handlers – we talk about you. We share stories. Especially horror stories about what a bunch of assholes you can be. You know all that self-centred, star-fit, bullshit you get up to on sets? Well it’s all being mentally recorded by the people around you. And it all becomes stories and tales and anecdotes to be shared over dinner, when the lights are out, the wine is flowing, and we’re left with nothing but the spoken word to amuse each other.
Keep that in mind the next time you want to call a production assistant at home at four in the morning to rant about stupid shit, or the next time you want to have a meltdown because your trailer is one foot shorter in length than that of your co-star, or the next time you insist on being moved to a whole different mansion during a shoot because your wife decided, for no particular reason, that the luxury mansion you’re staying in now is haunted.
Do you really want to be one of those jerk celebrities people tell horrible stories about for years after your feats of petty assholery? You don’t have to be. Be nice, be kind, be considerate, and you can join the ranks of the great celebrities who have nice stories told about them that confirm that not everybody of the super-famous sect are self-absorbed fuckwits.
Because I learned something else that evening during our summit of the lowly. I learned that Ben Kingsley is a fucking awesome dude who’s great to get drunk with. It’s a shame he wasn’t there to tip a glass with us. He would have been welcomed, unlike so many other celebrities of equal stature and lesser class.