They’re making a movie about me. It’s very exciting.
The production company has built a studio right next to my house—an exact replica of my own house. The replica house can be disassembled and put together—they do it to block out scenes and accommodate for large cameras. Walls are torn down and put back up daily. They say they do it for the lighting, so they can make it look like day when it’s night and so on. It’s all so cinematic.
They have my room down perfectly. There’s my bed, my covers tossed aside just like in my real room. They even have the name of my first love carved into the headboard. I tell the producer that he should have my movie mom get mad at that, just like in real life. He calls in the screenwriter and script-supervisor, who both note it down. They’re recognizable because they follow me around, writing down my actions and behaviors.
I sit in my fake room between takes and look through the books in my shelf—they even have the book my grandma gave me last Christmas. I run off the set and to my real house to check the real Christmas book. It’s the same. The screenwriter writes down my shock at this discovery.
They’ve hired a famous actor to play me. Sometimes people recognize me and they’ll want my autograph and I’ll tell them that I’m not who they’re thinking of. They’ll say, “No, aren’t you so-and-so?” And I’ll tell them “No, he’s just playing me.”
On more than one occasion, I’ve found research assistants in my house. The director has told them that he wants precise accuracy, but he’s also instructed them to stay out of sight so as to record me in my natural behavior. For the most part, they’re very good at their job, but sometimes I’ll catch them. It’s mostly at night. I’ll hear a sound in my closet and I’ll know an assistant is watching me from the crack. Other times, I’ll see them in my kitchen making a sandwich and I’ll say that they’re not doing a very good job at staying hidden. Then they ask, “What are you talking about?” and I’ll realize that I’m in the fake kitchen. I will look out at the fourth wall and the film crew is there, silhouetted against the blinding lights. The director yells cut.
Sometimes I’ll sneak into my fake house at night and sleep in my fake room. The crew will have replaced the fourth wall, hiding the camera-equipment until morning. I’ll wake up during a take—camera aimed at my face for the medium close-up—and the director will yell “Perfect!” The actress who plays my mom will say “That’s wonderful.” I’ll run back to my real house and my mother will ask where I’ve been all night. When I tell her that I was at the movie set because they’re making a movie based on me, she says “That’s wonderful.”
The actor who plays me asks me to go over some lines with him, to see if he’s saying them right. He says “They’re making a movie about me. It’s very exciting.” Then he says, in a whisper, that I need to be careful. I look down at the script and can’t find this line. I yell out to the script-supervisor and she tells me to say, “Can I try that again?”
This is the scene where I’ll find out my grandma is dead. They’ll utilize the Christmas book prop for this scene. The tears come easy. My mom asks why I’m crying. “Oops,” I say. “Can I try that again?”
Sometimes, I’ll look out my window into the window of my fake room. The actor who plays me stares back with what looks like subdued terror.
The crew has decided to push the fake house closer to my real house. The director says it will cut costs in transportation. It’s not that far of a distance, but I guess it begins to add up. Boards splinter as the two structures become one. I’m sure that the scars will show up on film, but the director tells me that they can fix anything in post.
I go home to tell my mother what I’ve learned about movie production and find her crying in a chair. She says that my grandma has died. I go “Oh right,” and try to muster the tears. She watches me with a troubled look while I attempt to cry. “Can I try that again?” I ask. The director lets the camera roll, from behind the fourth wall, without saying cut. Without saying anything at all.
All rights reserved to Ryan Bradford.