No animals. No small children. That’s Rule #1 when it comes to indie film projects.
So here we are, on the set of our rock-n-roll video shoot, with three roosters, two turtles, two birds, several fish, a stray dog, and a cat. We’re in Bali, Indonesia, drenched in sweat and running power cables through sketchy outlets on the fourth floor of a rickety old building. A bunch of bad ideas all stacked on top of each other, soaked in booze and hogtied to a homemade motorcycle.
Out of our way. We’re shooting this thing like a third-world bobsled team.
Aside from our resident rockstar Made J, the only animal I’m really worried about is the cat. Our original feline cast member showed up, took one look at our discombobulated animal farm set, and went back home to nap. The second nearly had a panic attack and instantly shed all its hair. Now we’re spitballing ideas for cat #3, like kidnapping a feral street cat (“cat-napping?” that can’t be right), or creating a CGI green-screen digital cat who will hopefully be more cooperative.
We’re losing light. Losing interest. Losing our minds. We should really just forget the cat and start shooting. But no, we need the cat — the cat is the punchline.
The joke goes like this: A guy walks into a bar with a rooster under his arm. He sets the rooster on the bar and orders a drink. He eyeballs the room. Everyone’s got an animal. Turtle. Fish. Bird. The chick at the bar has a cat. Cock and pussy, right? But, whoopsie, her boyfriend has a rooster, too. So of course there’s going to be a fight. And the chorus sings: “I’m the proud rooster ’cause my cock likes to fight, well alright.”
Sounded great sitting on the beach with a belly full of beer coming up with this whole idea, but… Holy shit, a cat just showed up! I’m not even gonna ask where it came from, let’s just start shooting. We’ve built our own bar up in the fourth-floor rafters of an unopened Balinese super-club called La Favella. The entire cast is a who’s who of Bali expat creatives. Models. Painters. Musicians. But no actors. And no one getting paid. Just a bunch of goodwill and support for Bali’s only international rockstar / professional alcoholic, Made J.
No one on this island actually has a real job anywhere. Bunch of suntanning artsy-farts. Shooting permits are blue 50,000 notes ($5). And everyone’s keen to support each other’s underfunded, overenthusiastic art outbursts, as long as the beer is cold. And free.
So we have a cockfight. And of course it starts getting out of hand. And of course the country’s leading supermodel, Fa Empel, jumps in and pulls the fighting roosters off each other. “Hey, this isn’t exactly the first cockfight I’ve had to break up,” says Fa.
“Thought you’re more used to starting them,” laughs Made J. She hands Made his cock. He’s giggling and not nearly as badass as he thinks.
Back into character, buddy. Lights, camera, cockfight! It’s hot in here. Sweat pouring. Feathers flying. Whiskey spilling. The guitars rev and everyone starts dancing. Cameras fall from our hands and now it’s just a real live rock show, up in these filthy, sweaty rafters. Animals running loose. Children at play. Music video shoots on the equator. And everyone has a good time. Everyone, except the cat.
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Nathan Myers is the world’s leading authority on guacamole combat. While his book Guac Off remains the definitive instructional for the avocado martial arts, his trilogy of short stories Broken Fables vol. I, II, and III should probably never be read by anyone again. A graduate of UC Berkeley and longtime senior editor of Surfing Magazine, Nathan has contributed stories and photography to Islands, Sierra,Destinasian, Maxim and LA Times, as well as most major surf magazines around the world. In 2009, he co-founded the open-source surf video competition Innersection.com — which awards $100,000 to the best surf short every year — along with veteran surf filmmaker Taylor Steele, with whom he previously collaborated on the surf-travel films Stranger Than Fiction, The Drifter and Castles in the Sky. He currently lives in Bali, Indonesia with his wife and two boys, where he continues to write, take photos, produce film projects and teach guacamole fighting.
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