I’m a little sheepish about telling this story. As funny as it is, I’m still unsure about the power of the unknown and what exactly telling this story might get me. What the hell. Here goes.
A lot of strange people find their way to the door of our production company. These generally unannounced, potential clients of “a certain ilk,” always start these meetings off the same way – “Boy do I have an interesting project to talk to you about.” This is always thinly veiled code for “I don’t have any money, but you once you hear this idea, you’re going to want to go in on it.”
I have to say this one was better than most.
I get a phone call from a woman who tells me that she’s authored a book and she’d like help making a film. We rarely turn away conversations about projects, even unlikely ones, and since she lives locally in the East Bay, I do the polite thing and invite her to stop by sometime. The next thing I know, she and her husband are at our conference table. An older woman, she’s brought along a copy of her book which turns out to be an autobiography – hers. From there is gets interesting. It turns out she’s a psychic. The book recounts her life from the discovery of her gift to stories of contacting the dead and solving cold cases and abductions for the FBI. It was fascinating. I eat this stuff up. I’m sure I came across as an enthusiastic listener. And she was a believer for sure.
So the storytelling starts to wind down and soon we find ourselves sitting there together in silence. It’s awkward. She and her husband are just looking at me. And I’m waiting for them to talk a little about funding, her possible benefactors, a distributor, even a timeline. Nothing. Crickets.
The other thing that’s rolling around in my head about now is the extent of this woman’s “powers.” I’m wondering if she can she read minds? Can she voodoo? It’s unsettling. The show is apparently over and it’s time for me to say something. While interesting, I can sense this project is ultimately going nowhere. I want them to leave, so I go to my standard script.
“Hey, this is a really impressive project. Wow. Let me put a budget together and I’ll send it over. Thanks for stopping by.” At first, she and her husband just look at each other. Then they both look back at me, blink, and break into smiles.
After that, it’s glad-handing, laughing and a “can’t wait to work with you,” as I usher them out of the building. Then I notice she’s left the book behind. Uh oh. I guess she figures that I’ll need it for the soon-to-be-written screen play.
Relieved and a little spooked, I eventually throw a modest budget together. I don’t spend much time on it given the circumstances. But I promised, so I send it over and I was done.
A couple of days later, I’m out of town on a location shoot when I check my office voicemail. And that’s when I get the meanest, most threatening message I have ever received. I recognized her voice through the anger and my heart just started racing.
The gist. Who did I think I was? How dare I charge THEM such an exorbitant amount of money. They had offered me the privilege of making their movie and I had led them to believe that my company was going to take care of all the production costs. I had deceived them and that they were going to report me to the Better Business Bureau! They were going to contact the News! They were going to tell everyone what a liar I was and how untrustworthy my company was!
She was so vehement and threatening. Being out town made my anxiety worse. I feared she was going to get me with all her psychic might.
And then it dawned on me, if she was such a great and talented psychic, didn’t she see this ending coming?