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Warren Oates Possessed It

It was more important than importance itself to get it right, to shoot the damn movie and make sure the actor actually a friend who wanted to be an actor got it right, namely that expression on his face that made him seem like the dead actor Warren Oates and more, or to the point, what Warren Oates in his best roles seemed to indicate namely an emptiness and puzzlement at the lack of meaning to almost everything.

So I have my Sony Handycam and we’ve rented a room or more correctly a small apartment more like we knew the place was vacant the last tenant having recently moved out so we forced the lock and got inside.

All around us, demolitions going on, the apartment building next door as well as this small plaza right underneath us that actually seemed relatively new with sparkling fake stone work running the length of it but that didn’t stop the crane from taking out large chunks of it.

I worried about the noise and the camera mic picking it up and drowning out the little bits of dialogue Ihad constructed but thought, the buzzy background sounds might fit in a weird way with the entire Warren Oates thing or at least an actor trying to portray that lost quality of a Warren Oates.

So there’s myself, my actor friend, and this child, well my child, who my ex-wife has brought along, and this social worker who is here to supervise the fact that the child is alone with four adults only two of which are officially her parents.

We’re all squeezed into this tiny, messy apartment, the camera sitting on the melamine kitchen table that straddles both the living room and bedroom which isn’t really a bedroom but part of the overall bachelor apartment.

Really my friend isn’t even a Warren Oates look alike and I begin to see so completely the fallacy of what I’m attempting.

But I remember a comment a writer friend of mine had made, how he liked what I was doing, shooting these extremely small films which surprised me. I wasn’t sure I had even completed the shooting of one film, let alone edited it, and then somehow found a place to show it.

Was my camera directly uploading to YouTube or another cloud site, automatically and remotely without my awareness or even more importantly with my approval?

So raw, but then so was the emptiness of the things I was trying to capture so though hard and almost impossible to show maybe in some small way, just as the demolition seemed to chew away at the front of the plaza, I had chewed away at something that had always bothered me and which I had no answers for.

I wonder why they are destroying this modern, low-tiered plaza, with its fake stone work that still shined.

But I had my filming to do or rather my chipping away at it, and I had my friend who was trying to assume a Warren Oates type look, my ex-wife and my still current child and this social worker all squeezed into a rather small room waiting for me to do something.

I had a few words and images floating around in my head even less written down. In my kit bag which I carry everywhere, an extra digital camera, a few grapes and an apple. I take the bag with me to my car. I need my jacket, the apartment colder than I had imagined. As I walk to my car in the parking lot some distance away, I realize that we have ended up in a housing project.

My friend’s car is near my car but it takes awhile to find either car in the parking lot. I get my jacket, relock my car, there are young kids lighting off firecrackers, blowing up plastic action figures.

When I returned to the apartment I realized I had somehow ended up crashing on Warren Oates’s cushion-less sofa, that we were both on some kind of bender, more mental than booze or drugs and when I looked into his face, I saw how empty and old, our souls had grown though I didn’t really believe in a soul or any kind of afterlife.

I had just stumbled, fallen into a kind of pit of remorseless emptiness and my actor friend Warren Oates out of a kind of sympathy had followed me down.

–Philip Quinn


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