The summer after my freshman year of college, I acted in an independent film which was directed by my high school friend, Mattingly, who had been attending a different university. I played a character who was dealing with an adjustment to college, juggling two relationships, and facing some of life’s harsh realities.
I met some great people on the set whom I still maintain contact with today. The assistant director on the film was a guy named Nick. We hit it off immediately over a mutual love of film. For some reason we ended up discussing Killer Klowns from Outer Space, and I managed to work singing part of it in Mattingly’s film. I also learned Nick was a bourgeoning filmmaker in his own right with a lot of talent and drive. He had made an independent film a few years previously titled The Beach Lane. This was an action adventure film reminiscent of movies you would see coming out of the Golan-Globus Cannon films archive like Invasion U.S.A. with Chuck Norris or Avenging Force with Michael Dudikoff. Think machine guns, explosions, etc. nothing was out of bounds.
Upon watching The Beach Lane, it seemed Nick had painstakingly drawn in the special effects frame by frame. I still have a VHS copy of it. He even filmed a making-of documentary in which he spiced footage of Steven Spielberg discussing the casting process of E.T. but made it seem like he’d been speaking about the actors in The Beach Lane who were basically Nick’s friends and family.
It didn’t take very long for a few of us to convince Nick to shoot a sequel: The Beach Lane 2. I was going to play Special Agent Jack Grimm, and one of our mutual friends, Il Petto, who had also appeared in Mattingly’s film, would portray Father Don Filipo (named after a pizza place near where I grew up called Don Filipo’s). We ended up shooting some scenes over one weekend. In one of these scenes I snuck up on a guard and hit him with the stock of my water gun. (Since this was the late 90s, water guns still looked like real weapons) and the guard, portrayed by Il Petto, fell into a pool. Like Kubrick, Nick was a perfectionist, so we did multiple takes from different angles. However, it never got to be a drag. When you’re saying lines like “Father, give me the machete,” you’ll do as many takes required to get it right.
Unfortunately, we were unable to film any more scenes for a few years. Later, when we returned to filming, I had graduated from college and begun a pretty strict workout regimen. While I wouldn’t grace the covers of any fitness magazines, I was significantly larger than I had been during the earlier scenes. The continuity of the film had never been a top priority, so we pressed on and filmed over a Saturday night well into early Sunday morning. We never had the chance to complete the film, but the experience alone had been worth it. Nick would later have the opportunity to co-direct a documentary titled The Uncondemned, about a few lawyers who prosecuted rape as a crime against humanity at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda.
Obviously, it is a powerful film, and it was going to be the start of a tremendous career. Sadly, Nick died in a car accident as the film was beginning its festival run. If you get the chance to watch The Uncondemned, you should; not only because the participants deserve to be heard, but you’ll get the chance to witness the work of a talented filmmaker. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt4082346/
The last few years have been a difficult adjustment with a ruptured brain aneurysm, Covid, and the loss of two more friends, Ricardo and Matt. However, I have fond memories of everyone and consider it a privilege I was able to spend time with them. Nick may not have been able to have the career we all envisioned, but he indelibly left his mark.
Perhaps one day, we’ll complete The Beach Lane 2. We’ll introduce a time travel element. Or not; since continuity was never our main concern it’ll be fine that I’m twenty in one scene and I’ll be at least forty-three in the next.
“Father, give me the machete.”
Andrew Davie has worked in theater, finance, and education. He taught English in Macau on a Fulbright Grant and has survived a ruptured brain aneurysm and subarachnoid hemorrhage. He has published short stories at various places, a chapbook with The Daily Drunk, crime fiction novellas with All Due Respect and Close to the Bone, and an upcoming memoir. His other work can be found in links on his website https://andrew-davie.com/