I'm delightfully out of my mind with excitement, for President Trump (a.k.a. PT), on his first vacation, has agreed to produce my film Teach Me Tonight (Huff Post ''Open Letter to Donald Trump" 1/21/16). Fast forward to spring of 2018. We just finished the First Day of shooting. Oh yes! President Trump, proving he's a "nice guy" as he said throughout the campaign, hired a few of his former running mates - who needed work. Only incident worth mentioning is that poor Carly Fiorina (Script girl) (continuity) tripped over a cable. (Who in hell wears heels on a set?) Ben Carson ran, that is, quickly shuffled, over with peroxide.
President Trump is Executive Producer and Melania, Co- Producer. Ivanka will be Associate Producer once she extricates herself from her various business ventures. Barron (Melania and Donald's son, now 11) will be a gofer so he learns, hands on, the machinations of film making. (Barron will also serve as a spy - PT wants to know everything the crew says about him.)
PT has also hired the best talent for the Director. (He gave a shout out to Clint Eastwood but Teach Me Tonight is definitely not his genre.) So PT, taking a big business risk as usual, discovered (at NYU Film School) both a newbie Director and Director of Photography (DP) whom he feels are just "the best." (He got them for a steal.) He had viewed their reels and has great confidence in his decision, of course!
1st Assistant Director (runs set, keeps crew/extras in check) is Marco Rubio. (The Florida senate didn't even notice he was gone.) Plus, the job requires a "great communicator." PT had also considered offering this position to Ted Cruz but he is so "unpleasant" (even though Cruz kept on saying "I like Donald") he decided against it. Chris Christie (ex-governor of New Jersey) solicited Trump for the Teamster Captain's job (in charge of all trucks). PT felt why not, a perfect fit - also, it will take Christie's ego down a few notches. Sitting in trucks all day can be kinda boring so Trump's board game, The Game, is the only diversion allowed. Finally, because PT "really, really likes" Ben Carson, Ben will give a Short Sermon before filming each day. And, if anyone gets hurt, as happened yesterday, the doctor will be on the set.
Both Melania and Ivanka will oversee makeup, hair and costumes. Ivana (his 1st wife) will be in charge of set design. And, Everything Trump will be used as props: Donald Trump dolls, The Apprentice posters, framed magazine covers, and his many, many books -- regardless of their connection to the storyline. Today, Day Two, the set hair designer accidentally walked in on President Trump blow-drying his hair (a really big 'no no') and offered to help. PT gave him "the finger" and left.
Because actors need to focus, sets are usually quiet, but this one's a train wreck. Everywhere, just everywhere are Secret Service agents. One of these "losers" mobile devices rang and another sneezed during a 'take': damn scene had to be shot again -- a loss of $20,000. They also must search all crew every morning, which takes time and adds to production costs. (PT intends to sue once the film is in the can, so to speak.) In addition, PT has allowed noisy media who "treated me fairly" to hang out. These additional costs are driving Kasich, Production Manager (controls costs), crazy.
PT had negotiated a "stupendous deal" whereby overtime will be at the cost of the crew -- totally unheard of in union history. Yesterday, the crew received a list of rules -- another action never seen before on a film set. I observed the crew's shock and resentment but, since PT has offered all a "huge" bonus if they finish the film on time, they acquiesced. A more disturbing demand, however, is that the crew wear sports coats instead of T-shirts and no jeans. (PT believes "A man who is dressed properly does better work.") (Note: This dress code was seen on film sets in the 30's and 40's during the time of Citizen Kane, PT's "all-time favorite film.") Definitely no cell phones, iPads, or tablets on set. Funny bit happened earlier today. PT's talking doll (a set prop) suddenly started saying (in Donald's voice), "Have an ego, there's nothing wrong with an ego." Everyone broke up -- I suspect it was a setup by a disgruntled crew member. PT, no "moron," suddenly announced that at every Friday wrap, the crew will be served the best steaks, fresh fish, and cold shrimp money can buy. He will also provide beer and wine, but no liquor.
This evening, we (PT, Director, DP, Script girl, and I) watched dailies (footage shot every day) in his luxurious camper (stocked with cherry vanilla milk shakes [Donald's favorite] and Trump Natural Spring Water, the only water allowed on set). PT seemed unusually subdued -- plus he had this strange look on his face like when he lost to Cruz in Iowa. (For sure, something negative was about to occur.) It was chillingly quiet until PT stood up and firmly stated he was going to fire both the Director and the DP and take over at the helm. I held my breath. And then, looking coldly at me, he said, "There'll be lots of dialogue changes 'cause I'm funnier than you." Yeah right, Donald, yeah!
I left the camper angry, embarrassed - and with a "tough" decision to make. Smartly, I had made a "great deal" selling him Teach Me Tonight. I painfully understood that, if I agreed to his changes, I would not recognize my own script. (A heartbreak for any writer.) Given the sophomoric humor PT displayed during, and after, the presidential debates, I thought, "Do I want my sweet, somewhat sophisticated comedy turned into a grade-school fiasco?"
Now, Trump has said, "Never give up under any circumstances." Indeed, I never do but, envisaging the inevitable "You're fired," I happily quit knowing my screen credit will not appear ... and my tell-it-all book will be a best seller. Thank God I never signed a non-disclosure. See, Trump, not all women are "bimbos and dummies."
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