A Hard Day
Today sucked. More than it sucked on the other days that sucked.
The offline session was just going downhill by the second. The clients were painful and unreasonable, the agency even more so.
Everything had seemed to go perfectly, without a hitch. The agency had briefed me on the storyboard about a month back and I had reverted with two treatments. In one of the treatments I had attempted to inject an idea into the TVC which was execution driven (read: NO IDEA). The second treatment was pretty close to the agency storyboard albeit with a visual tweak here and there, just in case they took offence to the fact that I had tried to alter the storyboard.
Which they did. "You dun like our storyboard ah?", Phua, the not so creative Creative Director had said. "I like the storyboard, I just feel we can push it further", I answered diplomatically. I knew shootboard A wasn't ever going to see the light of day though a week earlier the agency had raved about how they liked the direction the treatment was going, tho some of them seemed a lilttle nervous. That was when the Art Director was still around. Now that he had left for another agency the story was different.
"Don't worry, I have a treatment that doesn't wander too far", I said plucking shootboard B from the folio bag. And the agency rejoiced.
A few days later we had the final pre-pro. No problem! I breezed thru the talent cards, location, wardrobe etc. There were minor changes to the wardrobe, made by me. Too many flowers on the dress I felt, too clumsy! No objections.
The shoot? A breeze. Except for a shot where we had to splash water on Samantha which gave us a bit of a headache. Water splash not big enough. Water splash too big. Splash more on Sam's hand. Sam don't react before the water splashes you. Sam don't grimace too much when the water splashes you. Piece a cake!
So what went wrong with the edit? Everything was planned and shot with the agency's approval beforehand. They were even there beside me while I was shooting, stuffing their faces with pisang goreng and currypuffs all day. What a joyful day out!
The client had a problem with the colour, too dark. I reassured them that this was just one-lite TC and we would go in for a final grade. They didn't like the shots. I told them I would look for different takes and go for a faster edit.
The agency reacted to the clients comments the only way they knew how. They disassociated themselves from me. I was now public enemy No.1. Phua responded to every comment that the client made with, "We told him!" Jane the MD and Felice the writer were no different.
Now this was totally unexpected. I had spent a decade as an Art Director with a multi national Advertising Agency. I backed up my Film Directors if we made a joint decision on a shoot. I didn't weasel off when clients had negative comments. What were pre pros for? Why was this agency different?
Small matter. Wai Woh the editor and I made the changes for the next preview with agency and client. Agency came in first. They were the same people who sat next to me on the shoot, happily stuffing their faces with pisang goreng and currypuffs. Yet they were now cold and withdrawn. They made changes to the changes that I had done against my objections.
The clients came in. They made changes to the changes that were made to my changes. In other words the clients wanted it changed back to the way I had done it. "We told him so!", said Phua. "Agency must be responsible also, cannot always blame Director!" Phua's eyes bulged with contempt for me. "We already told him, he dowan listen!", repeated the double headed snake. My patience died.
I got up from where I was sitting next to the edit machine, jumped up on the sofa and grabbed the decorative katana from the wall. "Why you wanna kill us ah?", mocked Phua. Little did he know that the katana hanging on the wall was hardly a decoration but an instrument of death crafted by the master swordmaker of the Edo period, Inoue Shinkai over 700 years ago. A thousand men had seen early deaths at the end of its steely blade. It hung on the wall for little emergencies, such as this.
"I am going to teach you a lesson in Bushido", I said. "Death before dishonor." "Hahahahahaa", he laughed. A blinding silver flash and half his mullet fell slowly to the floor. My sword was still in its scabbard. Everyone gasped in silent awe.
"Honorable clients, I beg you leave this room", I said. They scurried out of the edit suite. Wai Woh was smiling. He had died a hundred deaths at the hands of this agency without honor and integrity as had a dozen Directors before me. "Edit them nicely ah!", he said as he left the suite. "Ha,ha,ha,ha!"
Phua lunged at me suddenly with a rusty NT cutter. I stepped to the side and elbowed the back of his head as he flew by. He crashed into the edit machine. "Keehehehhheeee", it was Jane. She had transformed into an old witch. No, Jane was always an old witch! Except now she crouched on the wall drooling green slime all over the yellow sofa. The hair on the back of my neck stood.
She leapt at me. I ran up the wall and drew my sword. Everything was moving in slo-mo now. Her leaping at me. Me running up the wall. Drawing my sword. Her flying pass. My sword slicing thru her torso. Green slime splashing all over the room.
"Argheeeeeeeeee", her shrieks pierced the room as the two decapitated parts of her body landed on the floor. "It's all your fault, your fault!", she screamed from a legless body. Her scrawny legs thrashed around the other side of the room, trying to get a foothold.
My eyes scanned the now dimmed room for Felice. She was no where to be seen. A pair of claws reached down from above and grabbed my throat in a crushing vice, lifting me off the floor. Felice was standing upside down from the ceiling. I would have sliced off her hands but in the struggle my katana had fallen from my grasp. I could feel the veins in my neck thickening and my eyeballs bulging from lack of oxygen. I was losing consciousness..
Then I remembered the colorful stabilo pen in my shirt pocket, the one I kept as a color reference. I fumbled for it with my right hand while my left hand clawed at her hands around my throat. I uncapped it with my thumb and with whatever life I had left in me jabbed it into her eye.
"Wroaarrrrrr!", she screamed uncannily like a man as I crashed to the ground and gasped for sweet life-giving air. "You bastard!! I'll never wear turqouise eyeliner again, sob!" Bitch! At a time like this all she could think of was looking good.
I hardly had time to catch my breath. Phua was standing over me, black liquid oozing from an open wound on the left side of his head, with a swivel chair held above his head. I was pretty sure he didn't intend to sit in it. I crashed my boot into his groin. I heard a sickening crunch and wondered why I felt only bone. I was right. This man had no balls!
The door flew open. It was my EP. "You Directors! I've had enough of th*" My shuriken sank deep into her windpipe. She knelt at the alter of god but Monday thru Saturday she double-dealt, lied, connived, cut corners and brown-nosed her way into the devil's heart. She must have wondered if my shuriken had eaten into production cost as she hit the ground.
My ordeal was far from over. Jane's legless torso had found her way to me and was grabbing at my legs and Felice had momentarily forgotten about turquoise eyeliner. From the corner of my eye I noticed a faint glint of silver. It was my katana. I lunged for it but fell short of it, the witch was on my heels. She opened her mouth wide to sink her dentured teeth into my flesh.
My katana was almost within reach. Almost. Just a little more. Got it. I lobbed off Jane's head, spun my katana around and jabbed it into Felice's chest in one fluid move. Felice's arms were still clawing, trying to reach me. I twisted the blade hard, her body convulsed until her arms went limp as sinful life ebbed from her.
I felt cold steel enter my side. I felt only cold at first then it turned into searing pain that spead thru my body like frost over a slowly freezing lake. It hurt like hell but much less than the dozen symbolic daggers they'd stuck in my back.
I tried to pull my sword from Felice's bony chest but it caught. Phua came at me again with his rusty NT cutter. I caught his arm with my left hand and slammed my right elbow down on it. Hard. It popped like a party cracker.
I ripped the 12" monitor off the table and brought it crashing down on his head. The force broke the glass on the monitor and his head sank into the little grey box as sparks flew around his neck. His body twitched in the blue electric aura that covered him. "That'll teach you good TV!", I thought.
I looked at the carnage before me and felt an inner peace I hadn't felt for months. The lifeless body parts and blood splattered on the walls had a surreal beauty about it. It seemed like I was in a Goya. This dance of death would have looked good on my reel. Where was my film crew when I needed them?
I yanked out my blade from Felice, stepping on her flat chest for leverage. I flicked her unholy blood from my katana and wiped the remaining ooze on Phua's blood splattered, once white shirt. But my blade was still stained with the lifeblood of evil.
Only fire would wash away the blood of the unholy. I took the can of Ronsonol from Wai Woh's table and splashed some on my sword. I splashed some on the bodyparts of Felice, Jane, Phua and my EP for good measure. Then I lit my blade with my zippo. Unholy blood sizzled and evaporated in the ensuing flames of vengeance.
I clinked my zippo open again and flicked the wheel. Fire sparked to life. I threw the zippo into the middle of the room. The flames danced around like little Red Indians, before they spread onto the bodies littering the floor.
I kicked something as I opened the door. It was Jane's head. Lifeless eyes stared accusingly at me. I kicked her head. It bounced a little and rolled into the fire. "It's your fault! All your fault!!", it screamed as it burst into flames.
A solitary tear ran down my face as I closed the door. I will miss my zippo, I've had it for 13 years. And it's been hard day.