Thursday, January 14, 2010
Phil's making a short film.
The premise is simple: a terrified bee keeper runs wildly through a park while being chased by a man dressed up as a bee.
Phil wants me to play the bee.
Like all performers, I can't pass up the chance to star in a film, even at the cost of looking ridiculous. Phil has also enlisted a group of friends: Rich, Paul, and Ben. Together we are a crew of five. There's no budget, no catering, no script, and only one professional camera - the rest of us have to make do with small handheld phone cameras.
It's called guerrilla film making.
Phil imagines the entire sequence being just over a minute. When I arrive I'm expecting a full on bee ensemble, something a mascot at a game would wear. A full on black and yellow body suit, complete with a fluffy head, antenna and stinger.
Instead Phil hands me a bee outfit meant for a girl. It's a sexy costume, a Halloween costume, complete with a pair of cute little wings, a costume meant for an hour glass figure.
My figure resembles something more like a bell, festively plump with a thick middle that would make any mid-westerner proud. I put on the yellow and black corset top, it barely fits around my waist. Phil hands me a pair of black shorts, then places a pair of antenna on my head.
He declares I'm perfect!
I change back to street clothes and we head outside. Phil wants to film in a small park near his apartment, during the day its full of retired Russians playing cards. On the first take he wants to run through the park in his bee keeper outfit while the rest of us take positions with our hand held phones to get reaction shots.
I edge towards a table, pretending to be interested in the elaborate diagram the Russian men have before them as they play cards . The men finish a hand, showing each other their cards before proceeding to write down a series of cryptic numbers on the diagram. They say little, studying the diagram like soothsayers obsessed with finger bones and chicken gizzards.
Could be a game of cards, could be a formula for Viagra, could be the secrets of the universe.
From behind me Phil shouts, "Bees, bees, bees!"
Phil dashes out from behind a corner in a bee keeper outfit. He runs past me, screaming, waving his arms like he is being stung by hundreds of imaginary insects. He circles the table of Russians, then darts over to a second table, making a full circlet of the park.
I film the men circumspectly. Any second now they will glance upward, startled, stunned by the maniac running past them.
Phil scrambles past us a second time before running behind the building from which he came.
One Russian looks up. He scratches his nose, shrugs, goes back to his cards. One of the Russians gets up, points a finger at Paul and his large camera. "Excuse me!" he shouts. "You have permit to shoot!"
We ignore him. Rich blows him off. "Don't worry, he probably only knows that word from TV."
We shift to a different area of the park and Phil runs around in circles again. This time a few of the Russians look up, a couple point, one laughs, but most stare intently at their cards. They can't be bothered.
Why aren't they reacting? Have their souls been ripped out after living for years under Communism, or is it just that we're in West Hollywood and men running around in bee keepers outfits are nothing worth getting worked up over?
What would impress them? A naked woman? Getting mugged? A bomb?
Phil tells me I'm up. "What's my motivation?" I ask.
"You are a bee."
"What kind of bee?"
"The black and yellow kind. I want you to run around, stop, and dart back and forth like bees do. Stop at a bush or tree and circle it, then run off again."
"Should I flap my arms?"
"No, hold them back behind you."
I give Rich, Ben and Paul time to take positions, and a minute later run out into the park. I flit across the grass, scurrying randomly.
Somewhere a little kid starts crying.
The Russians don't look up. Card games beat a weirdo in a bee outfit anytime.
I run back around the corner, glad I haven't been arrested.
Phil offers to buy us lunch, it's a wrap.
I show the film to my roommate the next day. He says nothing, doesn't laugh, doesn't smile. I ask him what he thinks.
"Never show this to anyone. Ever."
Naturally I ignore him: