Independent Cinema Comes to Santa Ana

As some readers may know, I occasionally dabble in acting and film-making, though I've only been paid for acting once, playing an evil American druglord in a Chinese movie called A Date in Paradise that, from what I understand, will likely never see the light of day.

Last week, I got to show my stuff again, as my half-French sister Nicole “Nini” Ayach and her boyfriend Andrew Shemin came through town as part of their ongoing cross-country shoot for their independent feature Walkin' My Baby Back Home. Nini stars as a young pregnant woman traveling the country in search of the gambler who knocked her up, encountering strange people in her quest.

The character I play is a perv with a toy collection, which most folks would say is not a big stretch. But the dialogue delivery style Andrew favored was interesting, full of deliberately awkward pauses and non-sequiturs, inspired by David Lynch. My character felt like the type of role that would normally be played by Crispin Glover.

Nini's character knocks on the door, asks me about her beau, and I invite her in, where a cage full of wrestling figures and some giant Spawn toys freak her out a bit. I give her a juice box, and tell her she should take the Greyhound, which I'll show her in the morning. In the meantime, she can sleep at my place.

In real life, I can't imagine the woman who would say yes to that deal in the home of a rainbow-headed stranger...but she does. Bad move. First I give her a creepy baby doll to sleep with, then I end up caressing her legs, and, uh, pleasuring myself (thankfully for all you viewers, no actual nudity is involved...but I would have done it for the sake of art, had I been asked). The final scene will, of course, be additionally uncomfortable for those who know of our real-life connection. Though I think that connection also made it a lot easier to play the scene – it's easy to rub your sister's leg and not have any dirty thoughts at all, rather one thinks along the lines of giving her an Indian burn or something. With a totally unknown actress it would have been more awkward and /or threatening to play.

Anyway, her character leaves the apartment quite quickly after that. It was fun – Andrew's direction was clear and easy, and I offered my technical assistance when asked. I did insist on watching the dailies immediately, something my friend Lucky McKee always does, and it works out well for him. I liked them – I've had good dailies before that ultimately got cut completely, but Andrew assures me that this scene is essential and will not be removed.

Stills will be posted when I get some, and I promise not to show the self-lovin' shots. The movie itself, with a bit of luck, will play some festivals next year. Coleman Hough, screenwriter of Full Frontal and Bubble, will also be appearing in the film.


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