‘All I want to do is direct’

'Narc' helmer knows only a lucky few succeed

“I’ve held horrible jobs. Thankless, back-breaking, soul-sucking, predawn to postdusk death sentences. Plagues disguised as eight-hour OSHA-approved workdays. A miserable grind, where minimum wage meets mandatory overtime. Looking back, I’d rather be buried alive with steady bleeding then repeat that particular bit of torture.

I spent almost eight years hauling furniture up thousands of flights of stairs. I worked in subzero-cold storage from 5 p.m. to 5 a.m., climbing 40 feet above the freezer floor to retrieve sides of slaughtered meat or lug 60-pound boxes of deli cheese down.

Retained skills from such benighted tenures? Not many. Perhaps nonexistent. Unless it’s discerning an armoire from an ottoman.

Regular jobs suck. Nobody wants to push a broom their whole life! Or turn the same soil ’cause it’s all the poor peasant ever knows! Save that crap for the Steinbeck novels. We live day to day, pining for a shot at the big time. Our culture is one of self-indulgence, self-aggrandizement and self-delusion. And what better wet dream to whet the appetite of an American seeking superstardom than a chance to make movies.

It’s so simple these days. Just sit down at the computer. Shoot, edit and star in your own film. And when it’s in the can, join the growing legion, migrating west to the great sprawling freakshow that is showbiz.

Because, all we really want to do is direct.

I’m one of the few that made that journey and got lucky. I mean Powerball lottery lucky. My film “Narc” was picked up by Paramount, and given a real honest-to-God Oscar push by the studio.

And don’t think I don’t know how rare that is. Or that I’m not keenly aware of how fast these things fade. Passing fashion, flash-in-the-pan. One minute you’re David Lean, the next you’re David Hasselhoff — or worse, directing David Hasselhoff. That’s how quickly this town can turn on you.

I’m constantly waiting for the floor to fall out or the ceiling to collapse, for the belly-flop, the flame-out. For that guy, the one you’ve never seen before and will never see again, to slowly take you by the shoulder and with the straightest face he can muster tell you that … it’s all been … One Big Joke. So here’s the bus fare, kid — now beat it.

And make no mistake. He’s out there waiting. But I won’t let him kick me out. Not yet. I’ve fooled too many people to let the facade crumble. Not just yet.

My run might be measured in milliseconds. Just let me look around for a little while longer. Sure I watch the “Leprechaun” series and Warwick Davis is indeed a big talent in a little body. But until my 15 minutes are officially up, I’m simply not leaving.

The day when I’m forced out will happen without an assist from me. And this is where the dream turns sour, like curdling milk. I’ll have more than a few misfires that only my manager will claim to have warned me about. My agency will scuttle the relationship. I’ll be cast adrift to fend for myself, to cash in on former glory, picking up whatever episodic work I can scavenge.

“Aren’t you the guy who directed … ?”

“Yeah, that’s me.”

No Frankenheimer-like powers of regeneration here, the kind that let you take a career that’s on the skids, hop the median and head back in the fast lane. No. I’ll be beaten by then. A half-dozen marriages in the breeze, kids I seldom speak to and never see. Lawsuits. Bankruptcies. Foreclosures. Relapses.

And I’ll be happy. Because all I ever really wanted to do was direct.

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