Monday, December 3, 2012

The Movie Business: Just Be Flexible

I had received a call from George late one night, telling me that I probably got the part. The next day went by in silence, and finally another day passed when I called George. "So, I mean, you said we'd start shooting this Friday. I just kind of need to know if I got the part or not so that I can move my classes around." I wasn't overly worried, I knew that things often happened in the last minute in the movie business - so I imagined - as most things relied on weather and the time of day and getting everyone together. Coupling this with the more than usual Georgian tendency for last minute planning, and I knew I had to be patient with everything.

"Yes, of course, you got the part," George said. "I was just going to call you, actually, we just were trying to figure what days work best. Does Friday work? Maybe we'll do it Friday. But could you come down to my office on Thursday and we could talk about the details?"

I arrived a little early to George's office. I had decided to take a marshrutka since I was a bit weary of taxis and I had figured out how to get to the studio. The taxi driver that had taken me there the first time was an albino who kept on about wanting to drive me all across Georgia. There's somethingabout albino taxi drivers. "I'll take you to Sighnaghi if you'd like," he had told me in Russian. "I'll only charge 200 lari, it's a good price, no? I mean, gas there and back is a hundred and twenty lari. I wouldn't even be making that much profit. This is good car, but takes a lot of gas. It's a good price, isn't it?" It didn't sound like a good car for a taxi.

"Yeah, I don't know. I just take the marshrutka. It's eight lari."

"I can take you anywhere in Georgia, though," he had said, licking his lips. "Have you been to Kazbegi?"






I was growing weary of him listing places that I had been and making sounds as though he were so surprised an American had been there. Also I was trying to figure out why he thought I would go anywhere with him since the only reason I had gotten into his cab for the rip off price he was charging was that I was simply tired of receiving the "foreign price" from people and just didn't want to bother negotiating and hearing about his child with cancer or whatever crap he was ready to tell me if I wanted the normal price.


"Yes, and anyways, why would I want to go to Batumi these days?" I said. "It's all rainy this season. It's best to go in summer." I kept trying to look out of the window and ignore him, trying to give him only short answers.

When we pulled into the lot for the studio offices, he pulled my arm. "My name is Boba. I give you my number and if you need a ride anywhere anytime in Tbilisi, you just give me a call. My name is Boba. Just you call Boba."

"Boba, got it," I had said, putting the paper he gave his number to me on in my pocket, making a mental note to empty my pockets into a trash bin later.

"Boba, the name is Boba!"

It was the first time I had heard of a Boba in Georgia. The last time I had heard that name was from Star Wars.

This time though, I took the marshrutka. It let me off on the highway and I had to pass the consecutive gas stations and auto garages that lined the street, each with their jump suit uniformed attendants staring at me while I walked by. They looked almost like astronauts in their orange, one piece outfits, and I felt something like an alien while I strolled by, but I was a legal alien. Then I found the right street to turn in on, walking alongside a deep trench dug in the side of the road. Then I found the movie studio and came in, a few minutes early.

"Hey George," I said, entering his office.

"Hey, right on time," he said.

"It's an American tradition. Ages old. So, what's up?"

"Have a seat," he said, directing me towards a chair. "We just need to talk about the costume and the script and all. Let me call in the costume manager."

The costume manager, a thin, young girl in her twenties with long dark hair came in. "This is Nino. Nino, can you tell him what he needs to wear?" George said.

She stared at me, then looked back at George.

"He speaks some Georgian. You can speak Georgian," George said in Georgian.

"Do you have any black pants?" she asked.

"No," I said. "Just these blue jeans and some green slacks."

"Then wear the green slacks. And what about a suit jacket? Do you have a suit jacket?"

"No," I said.

"What size are you?"

"Um," I said. "I don't know, I really haven't worn a suit in a long time. Maybe a 42?"

"And your pant size?"

"I don't know. I haven't bought pants in a while and I don't know the European system. I think in American sizes these are a 36. Maybe. Sorry."

"Okay, just wear the green pants," she said. "Do you have any button-up shirts? I mean, lighter than the one you have?"

"I've got a banker shirt. But it's blue and it doesn't really go with the green pants."

"Just wear it and bring another one."

"Okay," I said. I was expecting them to make me a costume or maybe have me try somethings on, but the costume part was over. Nino left the room.

"Now, about the script," George said, turning to me.

"Yeah, is there something I can look at tonight?"

George didn't immediately say anything.

"It hasn't been written yet, has it?" I asked.

"Right. Well, you see, the English part hasn't. But I'll try to get the English part to you tonight on email."

"Haha, that's all very Georgian. Is the script written?"

"You know, this is an improv comedy troupe," George said. "They're used to working with situations as it is. Just be flexible, it's Georgia."

"I know, believe me, I know," I said.


  1. Serious??? 200 for signagi? i've had guys charge me 100 before and i was totally ripped off. in my car it costs 50 gel max for gas. roundtrip to tbilisi.

    1. Yeah, total rip, and the guy actually thought I'd call him. Hence my tag, "blackmarket kidneys."

    2. plus, it's not like you haven't been to signagi a billion times... i can think of about... 5 right off the top of my head in the last 6 months.