I’ve always been interested in bad movies. How do actors get stuck making them, and what do they do about being on set each day when they know they’re in one?
My erotic romance, Design and Scandal, takes place on the set of Laser Sentinel, a science fiction movie destined to be cheesy. When I was writing the story, I wanted to show the characters’ frustration at being stuck working on a bad movie, while also keeping the dialogue light and fun. Here’s a bit of the scene where I introduced the hero, along with some of my commentary on how I described him and the people around him:
“I’m not wearing spandex. I’m not wearing stupid headgear. I’m not wearing a ray-gun that makes me look like I’m trying to compensate for something.”
(Science-fiction movie outfits frequently skate on the edge of the ridiculous. The hero, James Corwin, is a former linebacker, and he’s understandably concerned about how spandex is going to hang on his very large frame.)
“And no one’s asking you to do that.”
(Lawrence, the head costume designer, is a nice guy, but he’s in way over his head with James. He’s more used to dealing with grateful starlets.)
“Lawrence, since you made my costumes, I’d expect you to have seen them. The uniform I’m supposed to wear for most of the film has all three of the things I just named.”
“Headgear is what they call the thing they give kids to hold their braces on. Your costume has a headdress. That’s different.”
James noticed Kahala again and lifted his eyebrows in appeal. “You see why I’m looking for a second opinion?”
(Kahala Lin, my heroine, has just joined the movie’s costume design team—a little reluctantly. She’s really not excited about dressing stereotypically attractive movie stars. James Corwin is a much more interesting challenge to her, for more reasons than one…).
Lawrence waved his hand, looking even more annoyed. “You’re stuck with me, buddy. If the talent’s not happy, I’m the one who’s responsible. You and I are going to be seeing a lot of each other until we come up with something everyone can live with.”
James stepped further into the room. Everything about his body spoke of size, power and animal magnetism. Kahala needed to catch her breath, and all the man had done was walk a little. “This is the fourth design you’ve shown me, Lawrence. I hate them all. We start shooting all too soon. If I’m not going to be recorded for all posterity wearing one of those ridiculous getups, we’re running out of time.”
(I didn’t want James to sound like a jerk, but as an A-list movie star, he’s concerned about his image. I rewrote this scene several times trying to get the right tone for his dialogue.)
“Believe me, Mr. Corwin, I’m barely going to sleep or eat until you’re satisfied.”
James Corwin pursed his lips. His eyes drifted toward Kahala again. “There are so many people I’d rather hear that from.”
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