I am the proud owner of the most expensive home movie ever made. It cost somewhere in the realm of $75,000 to create. It is an autobiographical account of my life living with five gay men in the early nineties in Lexington entitled Passion Fruits. And this is the abbreviated story of its making.
New York City, 1996. Hillary is testifying about The Whitewater Scandal Alanis Morrissette is going platinum misusing the word “ironic.” Dolly the Sheep is getting cloned. And, I am working as an elf at Macy’s, and pursuing a career in acting.
I fall in lust with a fellow elf named Roger. We spend a glorious night together. He informs me the next morning, before the indention is even out of the pillow, that he is moving that week to Florida to play Indiana Jones in the Temple of Doom ride at Disney. I am heartbroken. The next day, the city gets a giant snowstorm. I have a meeting with a high profile talent manager. It’s my big break. Superstardom, here I come. On the way to the appointment, I fall into a snowdrift, ripping the slit in my skirt up to my waist and clunking my head on a fire hydrant. I decide I am not going to leave the apartment again until spring. So, I spend the next three months writing. The result is a play called “Me and the Boys.” After a workshop reading, one of the actors says, “This just seems more like a film to me.” I mention this to a friend, who just happens to have made millions as a broker.
He asks, “How much do you need?”
I, in a state of complete naivety, blurt out, “$100,000.”
He says, “That’s doable.”
Flash forward to the next spring. I, somehow, without knowing anything about how to make a movie…seriously, the only knowledge I had came from two paperback books with titles like, “The Idiot’s Guide to Filmmaking” and “Any Dummy Can Make a Movie.”
I’ll never forget meeting with a potential director.
He asked, “8, 16, or Super 16?”
“Why super, of course.”
I had no idea he was talking about film types. I just picked “super” because Fabulous 16 wasn’t an option.
Despite my ignorance, I found myself with a cast, crew, locations, and half of the funding. We started filming in April of 1998. Much to the dismay of my disciplined, talented and movie-minded crew, I (and many of the cast) stayed drunk for the entire process. For the sake of authenticity and alcohol-adoration, the hooch was never some Kool-Aid prop, it was always 80 proof.
When Lee Cruise came to the set for his “Sunrise” show, one of the production assistants, in an attempt to make us seem legit offered to bring coffee.
She, in her most professional voice asked, “How would you like yours, Miss Ison?”
“Just make it like you always do.”
“So, with cream, one sugar, and two shots of bourbon?”
On AIR. True Story.
We miraculously finished the filming, and moved on to the editing stage. However, when we were about a week away from wrapping things up, I found that our primary investor had been busted for insider trading or some white collar crime equivalent. There would be no more money. I heard the rest of the cash traveled along with him to Mexico where he fled to escape charges. I drained my bank accounts to pay off the actors and others. And, exhausted, dehydrated, and broke, I gave up. Passion Fruits has remained in the vault for the last fifteen years. But, thanks to the Lexington Film League, on Sunday December 2 at 6PM at The Bar Complex, Passion Fruits will receive a long-overdue screening.
Salacious Side note: I had a torrid affair with a cast mate. I was newly married. It was a debaucherous debacle . To find out who the unlucky man…or woman…was come to the screening, and I’ll reveal all the gory details during the Q&A.
the bourbonistA, Promoting Debauchery and stamping out political-correctness one blog at a time.