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The Director

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The DirectorI was drunk most of the time I was directing the picture.

The filming went well for the first few days and then a few young actresses became concerned with my competence. After one particularly grueling day of shooting I invited the dissidents back to my trailer.

As I poured myself a scotch and water, they began deriding me. I asked if I had made some major mistake or if they were uncomfortable with the working conditions. They all replied that I was a genius. I asked if my direction was good. They replied that it was brilliant. I asked what the problem was. They said that I was drinking too much. I began to see where this was going. It was not a professional issue but a personal one. I asked if they were concerned about my health and they all said yes.

I said this picture wouldn’t be here unless I drank. I had written the script and was now directing the feature. I asked if I was ever visibly drunk, tripping over cables and knocking down lights. They said that I was a perfect gentleman on the set and wasn’t clumsy or belligerent. I asked how they knew if I was drunk. They said they could tell because I had my morning bagel with wine instead of coffee.

I knew I was a drunk, they didn’t have to point it out to me. I asked again if my drinking in any way compromised any aspect of the film. Not one of them could offer an answer in the affirmative. I told them that if this is just a personal issue then I would deal with it in my own way. If it ever became a professional problem, then things would need to change. The young actresses each chastised me for my drinking as they left the trailer, but each knew they couldn’t do anything.

I got a few hours sleep that evening because there was a predawn shoot scheduled for the following day. After waking up I filled a large water bottle with wine and went to the eating tent. Most of the actors were already assembled, munching on their special dietetic breakfasts. One of them jokingly asked me if the red liquid in the bottle was grape juice. I said sure.

I had my customary blueberry bagel and coffee, but not before Irishing it up a little. I sat down next to the lead actress as I chomped on my bagel and went back and forth between the wine and Irish coffee. She was a few years older than me.

She told me that I was very well put together for this hour. She asked me how I could drink so much. I told her that I had to drink. She said that her husband had gone through the same thing but had gotten better after rehab. I said good for your husband, but rehab is for quitters. She laughed and then she got serious and asked me if I needed help.

A few of the studio brass came by just as we were getting ready to shoot. I showed them some dailies and they were impressed. They knew I drank, but as long as I got my work done and gave them a superior product they didn’t bother me about it. I made my living by being creative and drinking is what made me creative.

The predawn shoot went well. A few of the younger actresses were becoming infatuated with me. I knew that no relationship would last because of my drinking.

The film turned out to be one of the best in the eyes of the critics. I had never cared for their opinions. All the accolades and awards deserved were given to it. I had never cared for awards.

For a short time I lived with one of the actress’s from the picture, but she left me after I refused to stop drinking. The funny thing was that it didn’t affect any part of our relationship. I was a good lover, a good friend, responsible, a good listener, and everything else a woman would want in a man. She wanted me to quit drinking for health reasons. I tried to explain that it was my work that made her want me and that my work was a direct result of my drinking. She left anyway, saying that she loved me too much to watch me kill myself. I suppose that’s fair enough.

The studio got on me to do another film. I had an idea and half a screenplay but I was too busy focusing on my other works. They told me I had just created a great film and that I had to follow it up. I told them that any follow-up would be a disappointment.

A few years later I decided to do another film. A brilliant young actress that I knew was perfect for the lead role.

The filming was to take place in France. I didn’t audition the actress because I knew there was no one else. When she arrived on location I was pleased to realize that she wasn’t a pretentious bitch. I had already drunk four bottles of wine by the time we met that day.

As filming progressed the usual concerns for my health arose from the cast and crew. I explained to everyone that tried to intervene that I needed to drink, that it made me the person I was.

The picture came out beautifully and once again the critics lauded me as a great filmmaker. The actress in the film won all the awards for her portrayal of my character. She moved in with me without much warning. Once again I was the perfect man to be with, except for the self-destruction. She understood and worked at destroying herself along with me.

One night, as we lay in bed after a long bout of drinking, I told her I was glad she was dying with me. She told me she wouldn’t want to die with anyone else. We embraced for a long time and then she fell asleep. I left the bed and wrote the best thing I had ever written.

Much of the intelligentsia had embraced my work because they didn’t understand it. I was about to give them something that would be the culmination of everything. I had finally found a woman who understood why I drank and that booze gave me life while slowly taking it away.

The young actress put her hands on my shoulders long after the sun had reached the center of the sky. She asked me what I was working on and I couldn’t reply. She made herself something to eat as I continued to write and drink. Nothing could surpass the story that I related to the page before me. The more I drank the better it became. Most people couldn’t understand how I could constantly drink with a beautiful talent by my side. The answer for me was always the same.

I am the director.

—M.W. Hamel