By the next afternoon however when he arrived at Gorman’s office behind Natalie and she had shown him into the outer office, he had composed himself enough to sit on the plush sofa relatively quietly and had managed to look relatively sane, so that when the intercom buzzed and Natalie told him to go on in he was able to make a believable show of nonchalance when he entered.
He closed the door behind him as Gorman said, “Mr. Hall? Gil Hall, I believe? Have a seat, have a seat.” He waved his hand at the chair Natalie had sat in the previous afternoon.
“Yes sir,” he said, sitting down slowly and carefully and adding, “Thank you for seeing me, Mr. Gorman.”
Gorman, who had stood up to greet him, now settled back in his own chair behind his modest wooden desk and again made the familiar gesture of dismissal. “No need for formality here,” he said. “Call me Rod or,” he said with a slight chuckle, “Roddy if you prefer.”
He held out his hand and Gil took it, saying the only thing he could think of, “Thank you, uh, Rod.”
After the perfunctory handshake Gorman began briskly. “So,” he said, “let’s get down to business. You’re a director, right?”
“Right,” echoed Gil, sounding a little uncertain even to himself.
“So, what have you done?” Gorman pursued, leaning over with a mock dramatic gesture. “Tell me all.”
“Well,” Gil admitted, “there’s not much to tell really.” Then he proceeded to outline his brief and rather sketchy directing history since arriving in Hollywood a little over four years ago.
When Gil had finished Gorman nodded. “Not much experience, eh? No feature films?”
Gil’s face fell a little but he managed to say, “Not really, Rod. But,” he continued, recovering slightly, “I’m a quick learner and I’ve studied the techniques of all the great directors, both by watching their films and reading about them.”
Again Gorman waved this away with what seemed to be his favorite gesture. “That don’t really matter in this case,” he said. “In fact, one of the reasons I asked Natalie about you was…” He paused for a moment as if wondering how to put it. “What I really need is someone who is willing to come in without a lot of preconceptions. Someone who is willing to kind of make it up as he goes along. Know what I mean?”
Gil considered this for a moment before answering, then he said, “Yes, I think I see what you mean. You want it to be sort of spontaneous, off the cuff, maybe sort of like, I don’t know, a Cassavetes picture?”
At this Gorman jumped up and clapped his hands with delight. “Yeah,” he said. “That’s exactly what I mean. Nicely put.” He sat down again and opened a drawer in his desk. He took out what looked to Gil to be a thin unbound pamphlet. This he offered to Gil who took it without comment.
“Before you look at that,” Gorman told him, “let me fill you in on the details. I don’t want you to read it until we have an agreement in principle. Okay?”
“Okay,” Gil repeated, putting the pamphlet unopened on the desk in front of him.
“Okay then. If you accept, here’s what’s going to happen. You’ll be working with a group of young actors from the LA Improv Workshop. They’re great kids, really smart and professional, and most of them are right around your age, which is why I want a young director. In this day and age I think they’ll trust someone they can relate to.” He got up and walked over to look out the window before he continued. “I’ve lined up this great beach house at Malibu for the shoot. The owners are going to be in the south of France all next month. That gives you about four weeks to get in there, shoot the interior scenes, plus the exteriors on the beach, and get out.” He turned back to Gil. “Think you can do that?”
Gil turned in his chair to face him. “I don’t know,” he said honestly. “But I’m willing to give it everything I’ve got. All day and all night if that’s what it takes.”
Gorman came back over and clapped Gil on the shoulder. “Good, good. That’s what I like to hear.” He resumed his seat behind the desk. “Okay. Only two more things before we talk contract. Number one, this is gonna be a low-budget experimental production. No frills. That means you provide your own transportation and everybody buys their own food, drinks, and what have you. That okay with you?”
“Sure,” replied Gil. “Sounds okay to me.” He realized he was actually beginning to relax now, which surprised but pleased him.
“Okay then,” Gorman said and pointed to the pamphlet on the desk. He grinned slightly. “As they used to say back in high school, you may now open your test to page one.”
Gil, probably remembering his school days as well, silently and reverently picked it up and opened the flyleaf. What he saw first was a title in large script, large red script, he noticed. It said Last Orgy on Blood Beach. Below the title was printed modestly, Scene One. He didn’t read further but looked up at Gorman. “You mean, this is the script? The whole script?”
“And nothing but the script,” Gorman confirmed. “I told you, it was an improv kind of thing. What you’ll see is not twelve scenes but twelve suggestions for scenes. For instance, scene six.” He closed his eyes and quoted apparently from memory. “John runs down the beach and catches up with Mary. He accuses her of having slept with Joe without his knowledge. They have a huge argument which might or might not turn violent. At the end of the scene, John leaves Mary in tears and stalks off down the beach, never to be seen again.” He opened his eyes and looked at Gil with a hopeful expression. “Well? Whaddaya think? Think you can handle that?”
Gil was sort of in a state of shock but shrugged his shoulders and said, “I guess I can if the actors can.”
Gorman’s face brightened. “That’s the stuff!” he commented. “And don’t worry about the actors. Once you meet them, you’ll understand why they’re doing this film and not a bunch of Hollywood stiffs who need a couple hours to be able to get through a two-minute scene. So,” he concluded, “with your approval, I’ll have the lovely Natalie bring in your contract.” Without waiting for an answer he pressed the intercom button on his telephone and, within a few seconds, said in a businesslike tone, “Bring in the Hall contract if you would, Natalie.” Within another few seconds she was striding through the office door, contract in hand. Risking a wink at Gil, she walked over to Gorman’s desk and said neutrally, “The Hall contract, Mr. Gorman.” He took it, looked at it for a moment then said, “That’ll be all, Natalie.”
Upon hearing this, she turned and gave Gil another but more obvious wink as she left the inner office.
Without comment Gorman handed the contract to Gil. Gil looked it over, finding that it seemed like pretty standard stuff. There was a time clause, four weeks from August 2nd, but he felt somehow that that wouldn’t be a problem. What interested him more however was the large figure in the middle of page 3 under the clause, Recompense for Services Rendered. His jaw dropped and he quickly hid his face behind the contract so Gorman wouldn’t see his reaction. He was to get $20,000 plus a $5,000 bonus upon “successful completion” of a product acceptable to the producer within the terms specified. He stood up, handed the contract back to Gorman and said simply, “Where do I sign?”