A long stretch limo pulled up to the ranch gate and a man dressed in black, wearing a chauffeur's cap stepped out and asked, "Is there a Mr. Walter at this address?"
"There's a Walter," I replied. "But he's a horse, of course. Are you sure it's a Walter you're looking for?"
"I'm supposed to pick up a Mr. Walter and drive him to Hollywood. That's all I know," the man said.
"Big mistake, I'm afraid," I said. "Sorry for the inconvenience." I turned away as the limo disappeared down the road and I started for Walter's stall.
"So what's the story with the limo and the trip to Hollywood?" I asked. "You think you get an Academy Award on talent alone?" Walter looked at me in disbelief. "You've got to campaign for it, you've got to make points, be seen in the right places, with the right people. Now's the time to take action, before the movie is released.
" Oh brother. I couldn't believe what I was hearing. Yes, Walter had just completed a role in a movie. But it isn't a Hollywood blockbuster. It's a short, silent film, made by students at Scottsdale Community College.
Yes, the film will be an entry at a film festival, and yes, it might win an award. As an actor, Walter was pretty professional and he didn't cause any trouble and he did everything he was supposed to do. But I'm a little skeptical about him getting an Academy Award; after all, I'm also in the film. As a matter of fact, I'm the star.
The film is entitled, "Shot." It is a modern western about a cowboy who rides through the desert into the big city for a cup of gourmet coffee. The motion picture was written, directed and produced by Daphne Vann, who also took on the job of cinematographer. The assistant cinematographer was Arabella Sheridan. The first assistant camera was Jeremy Peterson, and the first assistant director was Michael Walker. The scrip supervisor was Mary Nadine Jackson; Jeff Sparks was the caterer and a production assistant along with Mica Bissinger, Diana Vann and Michael Hennigan.
Sounds like a lot of people to make a 3-minute silent motion picture. Well, I learned it takes a lot of people and a lot of time. You shoot about 10 minutes of film for every minute of film you use. And it takes from a half-hour to three hours to practice each scene and then shoot it. You have to get the lights just right, then check with the light meter, then reset the lights, then have the actors rehearse their parts, then the director tells them to do it again and again and again.
Nothing in a film is shot in the sequence in which it finally appears. The director shoots whatever, whenever, and everyone just grins and does as he or she is told. Once in awhile an actor offers a suggestion; but each time I was ignored.
Walter got most of his suggestions into the film, but I still don't think he is going to get star billing.
The starring roles went to me, Jeremy Peterson (the bad guy) and Jose "Boy" Antiquera (the Mexican Bandito). I don't want to give away the whole story, so I'll just hit the highlights. The movie starts out with me saddling Walter. I step up and away we go through the desert. Walter loses a shoe, so I have to leave him tied to a tree. I finally get to a gourmet coffee shop and that's where the great acting comes in. Of course there is a fast draw gun battle, but I won't say anymore.
While a lot of film was shot of Walter traveling through the desert, he only had to walk and jog, so it didn't take a lot of acting skill. I will admit he was probably much better than the horse in The Horse Whisperer, but an Academy Award?
"And I suppose you think you're a match for Robert Redford," said Walter. "Well, I didn't hire a limo. I'm going to let my talents and work speak for themselves," I replied. "And keep in mind, I am the star of the picture."
"You've got me to thank for that," Walter said in disgust. "In fact, I'm the reason you're in the picture at all."
"How do you figure?"
"You're the only guy Miss Vann knows who owns a horse."