PROLOUGE POST FOR THIS ONE
Having read the above post from October, the story following makes sense. It’s Thursday night and I’m trying to dump footage, cook dinner and keep the kids from physically mauling each other and the phone rang.
It was my good friend from childhood Russ. We were as thick as thieves as “little shits.” We lost contact when we were fourteen, mainly because I began my tour in and out of boarding schools for behavior and mental stability. I always thought about him a lot. He was truly a remarkable friend that I never had to be “cool” with. It was just friendship at the highest most comfortable level. He was there for many of my first life changing events.
Years later, I was asked to write a column for my film department’s college newsletter about my first experiences with horror films. SEE THAT POST HERE.
Russ came up in this article I wrote which in turn made me remember what a good friend he was and made me finally take initiative in finding him and reconnecting. My wild years were past me. Russ, never strayed like everybody around him, so I knew now that fatherhood and a rebuilt sense of my life’s worth had steered my new direction, he would be an additional influence on me not to screw up.
I found him rather easily, by contacting his father who still lived in our home town. Kind of disgusted me that I had fallen out of touch with him and he had been so close to me for the two years I had been back from Los Angeles. We reconnected and it was if we had not missed a day. My Busy schedule and fatherhood had been the catalyst of missed opportunities to hang out but then recently, the film idea, “The Drive In,” came to mind. On top of thinking it would be a great small film to make, I thought it would be a good opportunity for Russ and I to really catch up. We discussed ideas about the film over the phone and I had said to him, “I’ll write the first draft, then we’ll get together and tweak it and finalize it together.” He thought to be a fine idea considering I knew the format and how to write a script.
Anyway, that Thursday night, I let the phone call go to voicemail planning on calling him back as soon as it quieted down at the house. I began work on Russ and I’s script immediately after my kids’ closed their eyes forgetting to call Russ back. Sunday morning came and I got the phone call. I didn’t believe the first correspondent who called my parent’s house. I did however believe the second call which was Russ’ sister, Keira. Russ had passed away over the weekend. At a ripe 36, my friend Russ Russell was gone. My first TRUE friend to lose.
I’ll never forgive myself for not picking that phone up or at least calling him back. We never got to hang out again. Go to a movie like we grew fond of growing up. We never got to finish our film together. Since his passing, I put what was going to be a “do when I can project,” to the priority level, finishing the script in a record three months. Sure it needs work. It needs Russ’ genuine sense of humor. His perspective, that now only speaks to me while playing Bruce Springsteen or Run DMC, (our favorite music growing up,) and even then is not as and will never be as good as having him next to me in front of computer as I rewrite, talking like The Godfather, screwing off when we should be focusing. Now with the first revision for grammar and just small adjustments, I look to Ellie, Keira and Margaret, Russ’ mother to help me add Russ’ voice to a script that I refuse to change authorship on.
**Russ, I didn’t speak at your funeral. I was selfish. I kept my stories to myself. But if you were disappointed or maybe relieved for that matter, don’t worry. My feelings toward Russ Russell will be heard one way or the other in the future. If it takes me ten months or ten years, I will make this picture we started. It is a promise I make to you and when I do make “The Drive In,” I’ll make sure the stories I use are heard and the people that knew you feel you in the room when they are watching it. As this paper is my word, “I’ll find a way to finish what we started.”
The first step is polishing the script.