Future Tense

All this future-baiting (see below) reminds me of a moment that occurred last week at the Directors Guild of America, where my writing partner Cary Carpe and I screened our new spot for the 7th Annual Filmmakers Alliance Screening. The event served, in part, as a tribute to “Sideways” director Alexander Payne who was on hand to rally the throng of independent filmmakers to overtake the “moribund beast” of the studios.

The spot featured Carpe and I kvetching about the woes of indie filmmaking in an homage (French for “rip-off”) to Gordon Willis’ lauded longshot of Woody Allen and Tony Roberts in “Annie Hall.” It was shot by Abe Levy and cut by Raymond “He Who Goes By Scott” Daigle.

Having had my fill of cocktail-time accolades and my pockets weighted with as many business cards as Virginia Wolf had stones (must I remind fellow scribes that we, by nature, are as acquisitive as thieves and the last people one should ask to read one’s script?) I stepped outside for some refreshing mid-summer Los Angeles air.

“Daedalus Howell?”

I stoked my resolve (and maybe even balled a fist), before turning and absently blathering my line, if a bit ahead of cue, “I’m glad you liked the film, thanks for coming, send your script to my manager Marcus Crescendez.”

A knotted hand seized me by my shoulder. It belonged to a bearded man in a rumpled suit — haggard, as if he had traveled a great distance — a refugee, a fugitive, a hobo.

“It’s me, Howell. It’s Cary. Your partner.” Ah, a hobo.

The old man did bear an uncanny resemblance to my writing partner Carpe who I had left in the DGA swilling green apple martinis and telling bedtime stories to the talent just minutes before.

“I’ve come from the future,” he sputtered, then caught his breath. His furtive eyes searched the DGA lobby for his younger self. “You have to stop me — now — before it’s too late.”

He then pressed into my hand a parcel hastily wrapped in Variety and lurched down Sunset toward Fairfax. I followed, but when I turned the corner, he had vanished. Puzzled, I tore into the trade — a headline caught my eye: “Carpe Flick Hails Humanity’s End.” It was dated 2024. Inside was a revolver, which I jammed into my pocket with all the herky-jerky nonchalance of a drunk zipping his fly in front of a crowd.

Anxiety washed over me like cold oatmeal as I contemplated what this strange visitation portended: “The sonofabitch got a movie made without me…”