arrive at La Hacienda, the nicest restaurant in Nacogdoches. It’s closed, so we have the whole outdoor patio to ourselves; however, none of Dad’s restaurant extras have shown up either, so the other diners in these scenes consist of my friend’s sister’s husband and two little girls, her three teen-aged nieces, and my Uncle Kenton, who’s already drinking the Zinfandel we need for the lunch scene. The restaurant manager kindly loans my dad some plates for the “diners,” whose sole menu choice today is slabs of roast beef garnished with M&M’s and Danish butter cookies. Dad has enlisted Graham to play the role of the “flirtatious waiter,” but the script only calls for him to serve us wine. In between takes, he comes by and refills our glasses so that they’ll look the same in every shot. Before long, all the actresses and most of the crew are tanked. Even Dad is drinking. He launches into some convoluted backstory for my character; I’m supposed to be someone’s adopted daughter who knows that someone else is having an affair with the sheriff. It’s too hard to follow, and makes me giggle. As we practice ordering our lunches and talking about the dead cat, Dad’s third actress applies make-up, downs another glass of Zinfandel and hollers at passers-by, “the SCRE Atti . `\\ \( A:litialt111,15iklif ‘”IttitIfilitit’Alr! restaurant’s closed, but you can come watch us shoot a movie over here!” Some people do wander up to watch. It’s East Texas, after all; people aren’t used to having film crews of any size invade their town. The ambulance scene attracts particular attention, as real EMS technicians repeatedly strap an actress onto a stretcher and shove her into the back of an ambulance, then take her out again. This really freaks out the folks across the street at the Golden Corral. For my part, I contradict my dad constantly, even when I try hard to keep my mouth shut. On breaks, I grab the Canon and shoot pick-ups and extra little shots I’m convinced he needs. Since he keeps forgetting to turn off the camera, I’m caught on tape a few times looking and sounding, well, pretty damned bossy. Oops. Will have to work on that, I guessor else learn to hide it better. SATURDAY, 8:00 P.M. At the end of a long day of shooting, frazzled and slightly dazed from an afternoon’s worth of cheap booze, we go back to the restaurant to watch video clips from the shoot on the bar TV.To my surprise, my high school best friend shows up. It’s been years since we’ve talked, years since we both hightailed it out of the Piney Woods in her Toyota Tercel that couldn’t get us to Austin fast enough. She and her husband recently moved back down to Texas from Michigan; he hates it here, but they’re trying to make it work. The surreal thing is that while we’re talking and catching up, we’re surrounded by SFA frat guys watching images of me on big-screen television, shrieking about an imaginary dead cat. I have to admit that the footage looks better than I expected, better than most film students’ first efforts. And Dad admits that some of the extra shots I took will be very helpful, if he ever decides to actually edit the film. We stay at the bar for hours, until Uncle Kenton, still throwing ’em back, convinces my little brother to drive him to the Wal-Mart parking lot to trawl for women. Time to call it a night. SUNDAY, 10:00 A.M. The next morning, Graham and I eat biscuits and bacon at my grandmother’s house, hug everyone good-bye and set out for Austin. We’re going pretty fast; it’s a relief to be heading home, and not to be driving on a go-cart tire anymore. However, just as we’re blowing through Madisonville, Texas, yet another traffic incident occurs. “Yes sir, we’re from Austin,” Graham tells the DPS officer, as I slouch down in the passenger seat with a sigh. The cop grins. “Yeah,” he says cheerfully. “Figured that, with the Green Party sticker.” He writes a ticket and I begin to calculate that my dad’s film has cost us a new rear tire, a night in a roach motel, and now a defensive driving course. At what price, his artistic expression? All I can think is that the next time he calls me asking for help on some crazy project, I’m going to ask for better insurance. Tasca Shadix is planning a feature _film in which her father will play a sweet, old Texas guy. Illustration by Penny Moran Van Horn: 8/11/01 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 31
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