The Hot Guy is a novel by Mel Campbell (Junkee, The Big Issue, Crikey, The Guardian) and Anthony Morris (SBS Online, Broadsheet, Empire, Junkee), Melbourne based freelance journalists who took their post-movie preview banter and turned it into a story about Cate, a sports publicist who is set up with Adam, a hot but unaware film nerd!
Here’s Chapter 6.
Adam had first met his agent at a film festival, not long after moving to the city. A fat man had come up to him and pressed a business card into his hand.
‘Clive & Letdie, Entertainment Representation,’ Adam had read. ‘Which one are you?’
‘Clive,’ the fat man said. His bulk was artfully draped in a tailored chalk-stripe suit that made him resemble a sweaty mob accountant.
‘What happened to Letdie?’
‘Do you represent directors?’
‘Not if I can help it!’ Then he realised Adam was talking about himself. ‘Oh yeah, of course. Loads of directors. Stanley Scorsese, Woody Hitchcock –’
‘I think you’re mixing up names there.’
‘No, Woody Hitchcock’s a big name in the adult industry. You ever seen Midnight in Paris? Hannah and Her Sisters? Blue Jasmine?’
‘Maybe . . .?’
‘Husbands and Wives? Whatever Works? Melinda and Melinda? Everyone Says I Love You? Hollywood Ending?’
Adam couldn’t argue with those titles. Clive signed him on the spot, then spent the next year trying to coax Adam into acting roles while ignoring his efforts to get a directing career going. Adam hadn’t even seen Clive in person since that night.
But he checked in every few weeks, and Clive never failed to offer him some completely inappropriate acting gig.
Glancing at his phone that night as he left the cinema, Adam noticed Clive had left him a voicemail. His initial jolt of excitement quickly gave way to annoyance at his own stupid optimism.
Of course this wouldn’t be his big break. Clive’s phone calls never were. But still . . . maybe this time . . . maybe?
First thing next morning, he called his agent back.
‘Got you a shampoo commercial!’ Clive said over the phone.
‘Am I directing it?’ Adam said warily.
‘Well . . . it is an onscreen role.’
‘Wait, wait, hear me out. You won’t even have to show your face . . . much.’
‘Most of the action takes place on your abs.’
‘What kind of shampoo is this?’
‘A market-leading one, if you’re in the ad,’ Clive said.
Adam sighed. ‘I’ve told you before, Clive, it’s directing or nothing. I’m not an actor. Remember the time I agreed to be in that car commercial? They said the robot car gave better line readings than me.’
Clive laughed delightedly, remembering. ‘It’s a steal behind the wheel,’ he said in a robotic voice. ‘Heheh, that car was a natural.’
‘Why didn’t you get the car to sign a contract, then?’
‘I tried,’ said Clive, ‘but it turns out a tyre tread print isn’t a legal signature.’
‘Who cares about the car? Last time anyone saw it onscreen, it was wrapped around a power pole on the nightly news. You’re the one going places.’
‘I’ll be going to another agent if you keep offering me acting jobs,’ Adam said. ‘I told you, I only work behind the camera.’
‘But how are they going to see your face behind the camera?’ said Clive. ‘Will they rig up a system of mirrors?’
‘No one needs to see my face,’ Adam said.
He could hear Clive making a choking noise. ‘Are you crazy?’
‘Look, I appreciate that you’re my agent and it’s your job to talk me up,’ Adam said. ‘But I really want to make a go of being a director. Directing’s what I want to do. Get me directing work.’
Was Clive yawning? Adam didn’t care. ‘Obviously features are my main goal, but I’m keen for other stuff, too. Shorts. Music videos. Commercials. Corporate videos. Web series. Ultimately I want to be successful on the international festival circuit, but I’m not ruling out Hollywood either. I just think –’
‘Well,’ Adam could hear papers rustling on Clive’s end of the phone, ‘I do have this gig where you’ll be directing –’
‘Yes . . .’ Adam said.
‘Traffic. Hear me out!’ he added. ‘It’s for a movie. It’s called Chocolate Highway.’
‘Why would I be directing traffic on a highway? And why’s the highway chocolate?’
‘I think it’s . . . a metaphor?’ Clive said.
‘This is another acting role, isn’t it?’ said Adam. ‘Stop offering me these shit onscreen roles. Any news about the Clear Ridge short film festival?’
‘Well, they were interested . . .’
Adam brightened. ‘They were?’
‘. . . until they realised you weren’t in the film.’
Adam was speechless. Down the phone line came the sound of a sad trombone.
Once Clive had finished his trombone solo, he sighed. ‘I keep telling you – what you’ve gotta do is establish yourself in front of the camera, then move behind the scenes. Look at Kevin Costner. That watersports movie made a fortune.’
‘That’s the best example you can come up with? What about Clint Eastwood? George Clooney? Ben Affleck?’
‘Those guys had to become directors,’ said Clive, ‘because they weren’t half as good-looking as you!’
‘He’s right, Adam!’ came a female voice from the background at Clive’s end. ‘You’re so much better-looking than those guys!’
Adam shook his head sadly. ‘Have you got me on speakerphone again?’
‘I’ve got you on the PA!’ Clive said. ‘The girls insisted. They love it when you call.’
‘Hi Stacy,’ Adam said wearily.
‘Hi Adam!’ she called back.
‘Hi Adam!’ chorused several other girlish voices.
‘I think we’re done here,’ Adam said.
‘Look,’ Clive said, ‘let me be perfectly honest with you. At this stage in your career, no one’s gonna offer you any directing jobs. You just haven’t got the experience. Maybe if you can win one of these short film comps, I could work with that.’
‘I’ve entered at least half a dozen,’ Adam said in exasperation.
‘Well, maybe that’s telling you something,’ Clive said. ‘Maybe you should take some time off directing, focus on acting for a while. Make some contacts in the biz. You can always come back to directing in five . . . ten . . . twenty years. Whenever your looks have faded.’
‘They’ll never fade, Adam!’ chimed in Stacy.
Adam was crestfallen. ‘Is it even worth finishing the one I’m working on now?’
‘Well, you’re in this one, right?’ said Clive.
‘Yeah, but only because I don’t have the budget to –’
‘Then definitely finish it,’ Clive said. ‘Even if it sucks, it’ll be great for your demo reel.’
‘You think it’ll suck?’
‘Who said it’ll suck? I said it’ll rock! Now, I gotta go – my burger’s ready.’
‘No it isn’t –’ Adam heard Stacy say, before the phone line went dead.
For a minute or two, Adam stared into the distance, his phone hanging loosely in his hand. Then he reached across the table for the folder containing his Metadata shot list. He was determined that if he worked hard enough, thought it through carefully enough, this could be a good film. But then again, he’d thought the same about his previous films.
Adam wanted to make serious cinema that highlighted the injustices of today’s society, but what was the point if nobody wanted to watch? There had to be some way to reach people, but right now he couldn’t see it. Maybe Clive was right, he thought sadly. Maybe I should give up.
The phone buzzed in his hand. It was a text from Renton.
All set for Friday? [beer clinking emoji]
Sure [movie camera emoji], Adam replied.
Jeez, Adam thought. There was more to life than just picking up chicks in bars.
The rest of The Hot Guy novel is available now.