“WO-WHOAH! AHH! STOP! STOP!!” I gasped loudly! I was surprised that I had managed to keep my eyes open for this long so far! I mean, I was hanging FIVE FREAKING stories in the air above the streets of downtown Chicago!!!
“Adam! STOP tightening your legs! It’s only causing you to bob back and forth more! Spread them out!” yelled Rick through a loudspeaker. Rick was the head stunts coordinator and he was – for the tenth time, trying to calm me down long enough to explain to me that nothing wrong was going to happen! But if you asked me – WHY did they need to place safety nets near the ground if THIS was ‘safe’ THEN?!?!
“I-I think maybe I. . . W-WOOAH. . . we should AH – take a break!” I yelled loudly, hoping my voice would travel down to the ground below where Rick and his crew stood.
“Adam! We don’t have ‘time’ to take a break! We’re on a VERY tight schedule here! You need to cooperate!” Rick yelled through the loudspeaker again. UGH!
We were filming the ‘Chad and Justin chase scene’ in the very center of downtown Chicago. In the scene, I’m chasing ‘Chad’, jumping from rooftop to rooftop, and then he jumps onto the moving train and I’m supposed to follow. The earlier jumps were scary, but most of them involved jumping across five or six feet. But on THIS jump, they were asking me to clear like TWENTY feet across a main street!!! And the reason for Rick’s impatience was the fact that the City of Chicago had very kindly cooperated with our filming and were blocking off a few streets from traffic AND actually allowed us to use the elevated train for the scene. This sounds all fun and games on script. . . but when you’re hanging from a suspension crane FIVE STORIES from the streets, it doesn’t translate too well from paper!!! But the city was allowing this on one condition. . . that it was done in daylight, because they didn’t want ‘someone’. . . namely ME, getting hurt on their watch. And since it also involved a train it could make things more ‘complicated’ in the dark. To which the executive produces wholeheartedly agreed. And all this ‘safety’ talk was making me even MORE nervous than anything!
So here I was, hanging God knows how high. . . in broad daylight so I could CLEARLY see the cement below me, with Jim and his camera crew on a rooftop to my immediate right. Turning the scene from ‘day’ to ‘night’ would be no problem for the special effects department. . . not as difficult as getting ME to do what they were asking and let a CRANE swing me across a ‘canyon’ of skyscrapers and onto a train!!!
“Adam, you need to give it another try! Just trust that you’re in good hands!” said Jim’s voice through another loudspeaker. Julian was there too, sitting right next to Jim, smiling brightly in my direction and looking sooo adorable with a black “GFD” hat and t-shirt on. . . his hair curling out from under his hat cutely as it shined brightly in the sunlight. Sigh. . . it was only because of him that they managed to get me THIS far in this particular scene to begin with!
“C’mon Justy!! WOO!!” Julian cheered me on through his own loudspeaker, “It’s not that bad! Just take a deep breath and pretend you’re only a few feet from the ground!” My cutie, he’d been calling me ‘Justy’ lately and Donna approved of it one hundred percent, saying to all the other cast that he was doing great by trying to stay in character at all times. If only she ‘knew’. Julian was Jim’s little ‘assistant’ today since the shoot didn’t call for him to be present, but he wanted to be here with me today anyway, and Jim was really cool about it. But there was no denying it. . . I was a TOTAL sissy when it came to heights! It was my BIGGEST fear! Well, that, and Landon Delani winning “best actor award” for GFD!
“UGH. . . AH. . . UH. . . alright! Okay. . . okay! I’m ready!” I said right now, hoping my insanity wouldn’t leave me soon and bring myself back to my senses.
And although I don’t think that the insane amount of FANS that were watching from the ‘sidelines’ on the streets could hear me from this distance, they seemed to have caught drift that we were going to start again, and the roar of cheers and yells was actually kinda encouraging!
“Excellent! Alright, start prepping quickly!” said Jim through his loudspeaker. Down below I could hear ‘crowd control’ yelling through loudspeakers, telling everyone that they needed absolute silence since the scene had speech. And on another building standing with a smaller film crew, I could see Terry waving frantically at me, probably bored out of his mind from all the wait and trying to get some sort of attention! He only had a minor role in the scene, but since his character Jun was supposed to be ‘shadowing’ me, they required shots of him too.
The machine set me down on the rooftop again and Julian came running up to me with a bottle of water, which I took and drank thankfully. . . my mouth was parched from nerves!
“. . . You doing okay?” he whispered affectionately. I sucked up my fears and nodded.
“Y-Yeah, I’m alright,” I lied. But Julian could read me like a book, and he only smiled and nodded knowingly, not wanting to add extra pressure to me at the moment.
“You’re sweating like a fish, Adam!” said my personal stylist as she pampered my face with a towel and began adding powder. Well duh. . . YOU try hanging from a crane with the sunlight burning in your face, you wench!! I really wasn’t in a very happy mood at the moment. I couldn’t explain exactly why I had this steel-like fear of heights. I couldn’t really pinpoint anything in my life that would’ve caused such a fear. But maybe I had it wrong, and maybe I was actually the level headed one and everyone else who didn’t fear heights were just plain stupid! Then again, it could always be because of that time I rolled down a flight of stairs and broke my arm when I was five.
“Camera’s are set for the shot, Jim!” said his assistant. They had many different cameras for this complicated shot; four for my rooftop, three on the train, and two with Terry. All I had to do was run as fast as I could across the rooftop and jump the ledge and onto the train. . . which was about twenty feet away and a few feet down, while strapped to the harness. The crane would give me the extra lift and push to help me make it across. And even though they told me there was no way the harness would rip and to remember that safety nets and bags were placed all over, I just COULDN’T keep a straight and serious face while making that jump!
“Alright! Make sure everyone is quiet now!” said Jim.
“GFD Chad and Justin chase scene! Take FORTY-TWO!” said the clapper, sounding slightly irritated. Uh. . . yeeeah.
I cleared my head as best I could, I stood on the rooftop for a second and took a deep breath. I started running, picking up speed quickly. My heartbeat was insane! A cameraman on a dolly chased after me from the side – being pulled by another assistant. Jim was moving along in his master shot, getting a view of me from in front. And as I achieved top speed, I JUMPED on the small ledge and LUNGED myself from the rooftop, feeling the crane pulling me forward now. I kept my eyes completely FOCUSED on the train, where there were film crew to catch me when I landed. The jump felt ridiculously long! And the WHOLE time I was cursing in my head that this should have been done in CG! But FINALLY, I fell into the arms of six different crew members and let out the loooooongest sigh of relief! I had held my breath the whole time.
“Excellent job Adam! That was an absolutely fantastic jump! Couldn’t have done it better myself!” yelled Rick through his loudspeaker. Shhyeah. . . then why didn’t YOU do it for me then! I mean, they could’ve easily died his hair blond! But no. . . it ‘had‘ to be ME! Even with me still being slightly pissed off at what I had to go through, I still managed to smile, as the crew and fans clapped and cheered loudly. They removed my harness and I was finally able to relax for a few minutes as the crew began removing some of the ‘safety’ nets and bags around the train and set up the cameras for the next shot on the train. Someone brought me my chair and I sat down as a few stylists touched up my hair and face. The blond boy casted to play Chad was also on top of the train, and I watched as he squeezed his way through the film crew to start up a conversation while we waited. His name was Chris, and when I was first introduced to him a few days ago, I had done a double take. . . I couldn’t help but notice that he was REALLY cute! He was 13, and had this blond hair that was so unlike mine or Landon’s. . . it was almost silvery like! I like literally drooled over him for a few seconds after we were introduced, before I remembered about Julian! And for a while after that I had this nasty guilty feeling in the pit of my stomach from thinking about someone else ‘like that’, other than Julian. And every time I looked at Chris throughout the day, a pang of guilt spread through my body. . . because I couldn’t stop picturing what he might look like naked! And it was even worse because the whole day, Julian DIDN’T so much as give me a nasty look for looking at Chris, talking to him. . . or even laughing with him. It just made me feel even lower because I saw that Julian must’ve trusted me much more than I had ever trusted him with Landon. No wonder he’d gotten so upset the other day. There was a lot I needed to learn about ‘relationships’, apparently. . .
“I told you that it’d be easy Adam! That was sooo cool, wasn’t it? Did you SEE all the people from up there?! Oh! And wasn’t it cool how the wind kinda pushed you back a little as you jumped?! That was so cool huh!” I think if Chris had been bitten by a vampire he wouldn’t have had fast legs so much as a fast mouth! I only nodded and kept my lips sealed, afraid I might barf just from the reminder! But again, those other thoughts rushed into my mind and I couldn’t do anything to suppress them! He was just so. . . cute! I just felt like hugging him to death, or something! It was a totally different feeling I had for Julian. Where Julian left me simply speechless, awestruck, and nervous. . . Chris just seemed to have that cute personality that made you want to pepper him with kisses all over! I don’t know, maybe. . . hopefully it was just an infatuation that would go away after a while.
“I think Julian’s trying to get your attention up there,” Chris said looking up at the building. I turned my head and saw Julian waving down at me, with thumbs up. Sigh. . . I wish I was up there with my arms around him.
“So, what’s it like kissing another boy?” Chris broke me from my trance. I spun around and looked at him, shocked and scared. But he didn’t sound disgusted, or even interested for that matter. He just sounded ‘simply’ curious. I think the making of this film was having an impact on how people thought about two boys kissing. . . that it wasn’t as dirty or wrong as people had thought before. And suddenly, boys who weren’t gay, or even wondering if they were gay, now had the opportunity to ask a simple question to quench a simple curiosity.
“You know, for the movie?” he asked innocently.
“Oh! Um. . . s’alright, I guess. . .” I lied evenly. But it was ANYTHING but ‘alright’! It was difficult trying to pull that off without sounding emotional about it. . . ESPECIALLY since kissing Julian literally felt like a religious experience for me!!! And I felt horrible having said that something about Julian was ‘just alright’. But Chris was just being curious I suppose, and I guess I SHOULDN’T have expected to go through an entire film where the two main characters were gay and NOT expect someone to ask curious questions! But I was just confusing myself here. I mean, I could tell my mother about myself. . . I could STAR in a MOVIE with a gay theme that the whole WORLD will see. . . but I just couldn’t gather the courage for everyone else to know the ‘truth’. I guess I was just hiding under that safety blanket that “I was just acting”.
“Pshh! Don’t tell me you didn’t get even a ‘little’ excited! Hehehe! I heard what happened the other day. . . you two seemed to have gotten ‘into it’ a bit too much!” he replied, wriggling his eyebrows in a cute fashion. UGH! There he goes being all cute and lovable again! I only laughed nervously and thanked the acting gods that Donna decided to show up at that precise moment. She was accompanied by Garrison, who was my personal martial arts trainer. Garrison was like the coolest adult I have EVER met! I instantly brightened up when I saw him and he smiled back at me. He was tall, lean and muscular. I had already worked with him A LOT for the past three months before we actually started shooting. He taught me so much about fighting, it was just insane! REAL fighting too! The only thing that dampened things was the rigorous training and the amount of time we had spent teaching me different types of martial arts!
“Hey dudes!” he said and gave me and Chris a high five.
“Hey! Did you see that jump I made! That was pretty neat, huh? I was a little scared at first. . . but then I just went for it and it was easy after that,” I said excitedly. I don’t know exactly why, but I always felt like I needed to ‘show’ off to him, that it was important that he knew I was ‘cool’. I bitterly thought back to my father. . . knowing that it had to be some residual effect of my not so ‘healthy’ relationship with him.
“That was pretty sweet, dude!” he chuckled, and he was about to ruffle my hair – something he always did if I was doing good while training, when Donna grabbed him by the wrist with cat-like reflexes and stopped him.
“Ah ah. . . not the hair, please!” She said. Garrison rolled his eyes at me and made me and Chris laugh. He was so cool.
“We’re just waiting for Jim to come down here. In the meantime you two need to spend some time with Garrison to rehearse for this shot,” said Donna. By that time Rick had arrived followed by our fight choreographer, Mike.
“Alright dudes, we got. . . about three hours to get you guys set up for this shot, so let’s start with some basic stretches,” said Garrison. Since he had spent so much more time with me during pre-production to train me compared to Chris, Garrison spent most of his time showing Chris what to do and he only came back to me to see if I was alright. And Rick and Mike explained to us how the next shot was going to work as we stretched. The instructions started getting a little confusing. . . Mike detailed out a brief description of how the fight would go, while Rick gave his inputs about how it would actually occur behind the camera, and Garrison would show us the exact moves to execute these actions. Chris looked really excited. . . but I still had the whole ‘we’re on top of a freaking train two stories from the ground’ thing going on in my brain, and it kept me on my toes.
The actual rehearsing part was really fun. Once I stand up from my ‘jump’ in the shot, Chris and I would trade some dialogue back and forth, then we’d jump into a small fight on the train. Since my character Justin was still ‘new’ at the whole vampire world, Chris was going to have the upper hand and the more complicated sets of moves; while I had to use my instincts to block him – and more than a few misses. Overall, by the time Jim and the rest of the crew arrived on the train I think we got it down pretty well, since it wasn’t a whole lot of moves involved for the shot.
Platforms had been erected on either side of the train so that the film crew had more space to move around and set up shots for the scene. That also left the actual roof of the train free for me and Chris to act out our scene. We spent the next hour getting our blocking with the cameras set, and by the time it was noon, me and Chris were exhausted! Julian was sweet enough to give us water whenever we needed it, and ran back and forth for Jim when he needed to speak to someone. He looked so cute taking it all seriously, doing ‘important’ things.
“Two minutes everyone!” shouted a stage hand. We were told to move into our spots. Chris took the middle of the particular train car we were standing on, while I was to hang from the end of the train and pull myself up for the shot.
“You guys ready?” asked Jim. Chris and I nodded. Chris flashed me a cute grin and I couldn’t help and blush! I HAVE TO stop thinking about Chris like that!
“Camera’s set guys! Sounds up!” another assistant yelled. Down below on the streets I could hear crowd control telling the fans to keep absolute quiet. I hung from the train, my feet not even touching the elevated rail track. But two stage hands were down there, holding me feet up so they could give me a ‘lift’ for the shot. I closed my eyes and concentrated as HARD as I could on my dialogue, and my choreography. I just have to get this right! They chose me to play Justin, the LAST thing I wanted to do is make everyone feel that they had made a horrible mistake! It was a constant fear and pressure in my mind. . .
“. . . I need absolute quiet everyone! Let’s get started!” yelled Jim. With everything set, the area became silent, with only the distant sounds of cars driving by.
“GFD Chad and Justin chase scene! Take forty-three!”
“. . . ACTION!”
The two stage hands under me pushed me up and down for a second, simulating my struggle to get a grip on the train. But I also felt the ENTIRE train shaking back and forth and only just realized that there were a LOT of film crew on the sides of the train, pushing back and forth to simulate the train rocking. Pretty neat! I just don’t know how they’re going to make it look like it was actually moving for the film!
“. . . UG. . . AH. . . W-WAIT!” I yelled at ‘Chad’. I struggled and groaned as I finally pulled myself onto the roof and stood up slowly and shakily. ‘Chad’ continued walking forward slowly, ‘ignoring’ Justin.
“God DAMMIT! Chad, listen. . . I’m not playing a fucking GAME with you here! I just want to talk to you!” I screamed loudly. Wow. . . even I thought I did pretty good on that one! He stopped and slowly turned around, the train still rocking back and forth menacingly.
“Sorry grasshopper, but I’m busy. Some other time.” he said. I balled up my fists.
“CUT!” yelled Jim. Huh? What did I do wrong?
“Chris. . . you need to put a little more ‘spice’ into that particular line! You gotta sound confident, almost cocky with that line!” Jim told Chris. Chris blushed a bit, but nodded his head.
“Alright, from your last line then Chris! Everyone quiet!” yelled Jim.
“GFD Chad and Justin chase scene! Take forty-three!”
“ACTION!” Chris let the camera roll for a moment before delivering his first line.
“Sorry grasshopper, but I’m busy. Some other time.” he said much more confidently. Without waiting for anyone, I balled up my fists ‘angrily’ and lunged forward at ‘Chad’. He spun around and tried to run ahead but I quickly grabbed him by the shoulder and he gave a complicated spin under my arm and ‘punched’ me in the stomach! I ‘jumped’ back from the hit, pretending it hurt while at the same time trying my best to remember all my training on how to make my movements fluid and realistic. After so much training, it was a little weird actually acting it all out for real for the first time. The most difficult part was trading blows and making it look like we were really hitting each other, but much of our training was on how to deliver these attacks in front of the camera while maintaining a sense of ‘realism’. It was HARD work! I was beginning to sweat a bit, and I noticed Chris was too. We striked each other back and forth repeatedly, with ‘Chad’ having the upper hand most of the time until they finally stopped the shot.
Chris and I breathed out a sigh of relief. That was intense! Chris was a really accomplished fighter! Garrison and Mike spoke to us for a few minutes while Jim and the crew re-worked the camera shots, giving us feedback on what we did right and what we needed to work on. We continued like this throughout the day, doing take after take, sometimes doing the same punch and block TWENTY times before Jim was satisfied. . . until we heard the final cut being yelled out right about the time both me and Chris were beyond ready-to-faint exhausted!
“AND. . . . . . CUT!”
“Great job you two! That’s a wrap up for the day!” THANK God! The crew clapped and cheered as Jim told us that we did wonderful! Terry joined us and we hung out for a while, finally happy to relax again. But there was no rest time, not for the ‘cast’. Especially not as long as Donna roamed around with ‘ideas’.
“Guys! Today looks like we have a perfect opportunity to show some face!” she said, looking down at the insane amount of fans down on the streets, behind dividers. Julian, Terry, Chris and I looked at each other, then back at Donna. We hadn’t really ‘spent time’ with fans up to this point. The only person that had any kind of ‘experience’ with this stuff was Landon. . . but he wasn’t here.
“. . . I’ve never like, been ‘around’ fans like that, uh, Donna. . .” Julian spoke up first. She looked up from her binder and gave us that ‘Donna patented look’.
“Then there’s no time like now to learn how to become celebrities!” she said. Then, noticing our nervous glances, spoke again.
“Listen. All you guys need is a pen. Then you need to go down there, sign some autographs, give a few handshakes. . . take a few pictures, maybe speak to some of the fans here and there, and you’re set!” she said.
“Do we have to? What if they like, attack us?” asked Terry. Chris was the only one that looked excited at the prospect. But Donna turned her face to Terry.
“Yes sweetie, you guys have to. It’s part of your contract, isn’t it? Publicity is essential for this movie to make it bigger than it’s already going to be! And they are NOT going to attack you! You’ll have security with you, and they’re standing behind a dividing rail anyway. Now grab some pens and get signing!” she waggled her favorite highlighter at us ‘threateningly’.
The moment we came down from the train and onto the streets, the fans SCREAMED and YELLED with cheers! Literally, from that point on, they NEVER once stopped screaming! The yells and camera clicks and noises were deafening! Julian stood close to me, probably the most shy out of the four as we approached the fans, along with our body guards. I decided to give a wave at the fans as we approached them, and suddenly the screams INTENSIFIED to a new level! Oh my God!!! The power I held with one wave of my hand!!! Is THIS what celebrities feel like every day?! Is THIS what Landon feels like all the time?! To have the ability to make others go WILD with the flick of a wrist?! It was a feeling I’ll NEVER be able to describe! To be able to smile, or wave at a crowd and have them SCREAM out your name like that! It wasn’t so much that I was satisfied. . . but I was shocked that it was even possible!!!
We saw people of ALL walks of life there, as we signed autographs, shirts, and books! Julian and I even signed many of the “Vanity” magazines with the two of us on the front cover! There were girls that asked us crazy questions like what our favorite color was and what kind of underwear we used! And there were boys that were obviously swooning over us and it was IMPOSSIBLE to deny that we just ‘made their lives’ by smiling at them, or shaking their hands! Other fans asked us questions about the books as if we were really these characters we were portraying! There were people who wanted a picture with the four of us together! Or others that wanted a picture with each one individually! Some of the fans stumbled and pushed through the crowd as we walked down the line to keep talking to us! It was INSANE!!!
After an indefinable amount of time, we were told to wrap things up by some film crew. And as we were leaving, the yells and screams doubled up again, and I found it increasingly difficult to just turn around and leave! For another minute, I kept signing autographs as they came to my field of vision in endless supply! Every time I thought about turning around, I would see another desperate fan to get a signature and I couldn’t help but sign it! It got to the point where I realized that if I didn’t go now, I’d NEVER leave! And finally, it was Julian’s gentle hand on my shoulder that made me turn around, and leave the fans. But I could hear the fans screaming for more. . . and in a way, I felt kind of bad for just ‘leaving’ them like that.
“That was pretty fun, wasn’t it? I was kinda nervous at first, but they just love us! It’s kinda weird, isn’t it?” said Julian, as we walked away. He playfully bumped our shoulders together. . . the only real form of affection he could give me at the moment. I looked up at him, savoring the green of his eyes in my mind for a second. I was a little worried now about the fans. I suddenly felt like another weight had been added to my shoulders. I needed to make sure I lived up to Jim and the rest of the team’s expectations. But now I needed live up to the fan’s expectations. But at the same time I thought – what the hey? I shouldn’t stress out over it too much and just enjoy it while I can. . .
“Yeah, it’s a weird feeling isn’t it? But kinda cool too, huh?” I said finally, as I turned back to the crowd and waved one last time – resulting in the crowd of fans just about shattering every window in the block.