My friend, Frank Cameron, is not a tattoo kind of guy. So when he revealed his spanking new shoulder tattoo to me, I almost swooned. ‘What? Why? When?’ was all I could muster. Not that Frank is conservative; he’s just not the type to advertise his beliefs to the world in any print form other than a screenplay.
I scrunched my brow and scratched my head and stared at the pristine strokes on his skin. ‘Hmmm… Mathematical formula?’ Frank waited. “Come on baby, give it to me.” Frank doesn’t sound as much the Portuguese Canadian that he is as he does Humphrey Bogart in The Maltese Falcon. I knew I’d never get it. Physics wasn’t my thing, but I gave it a shot. ‘Hmmm… Mathematical formula… for converting water into gold?’ No go. ‘Does it have anything to do with filmmaking?’ “Chaos, baby, chaos.” Huh? “This is the mathematical formula for chaos.” ‘But why is it on your shoulder?’ Oh, wait, I should have seen this coming… “It’s all meaningless.” Frank’s philosophical mantra and evidently the reason he’s emblazoned this formula on his body.
And with that pronouncement, I knew there was a shakedown coming. Was he about to get a Mohawk? Form a boy band and sign a recording deal? Or was he slyly sharing the secret method behind his general madness? I’d long suspected that the seeming total disregard for logic in Frank’s meandering march towards Hollywood was actually a thinly-veiled mastermind scheme.
Over a decade ago, Frank was a successful executive in Toronto. His wife, Goreti, was a school administrator. He wanted to write, she wanted to act. And off they went to… Palm Springs. Perhaps other Canadians had hit Hollywood from the east. I never asked. In the desert Frank golfed. He golfed a lot. He perfected his chipping and putting and birdies and eagles and whatever the hell else one does in golf. (Sorry, not my area of expertise.) Who knew this skill would be instrumental in his trek toward Hollywood?
They eventually moved to Beverly Hills, just around the corner from CAA, which mistakenly failed to invite him over. Frank is a brilliant, deliciously warped, cynical writer, revered by many for his acid wit and absurdist humor. Back in Canada, Frank had been involved in a TV production and had a feature script produced so he wasn’t exactly a novice at this game.
Frankie-baby built up a slew of fans in the industry, but the script he was spreading around town, The Trouble in Dogflat Hollow, was untouchable. It was the story of Jesus’ return told with the dark bent that is Frank, former Catholic, current chaos believer. Jesus careens into a world just a tad more off-kilter since the last time he showed up. Frank’s expecting a Nike shoe contract out of it. I have yet to decipher that one.
In L.A., Frank got down to the real job of a screenwriter. He golfed. And he golfed. And then he, yes, golfed some more. He churned out spec scripts and pilots between holes, improving both his swing and his craft. One of his golf buddies cast him in a commercial. As a golfer. The game was beginning to work for him. Frank landed a meeting with a commercial agent. In typical Frank fashion, he tells the dude, “This commercial thing is fine. I don’t mind doing a couple here and there, but you gotta know one thing, I don’t audition.”
I imagine the agent sputtered a bit. Unless you’re Adam Sandler, you audition. “Nope,” Frank repeated, “I don’t audition. Is that going to be a problem?” He realized that nobody was going to cast him for his acting genes. He’d get the gig for being Frank, no more, no less. The agent signed him and Frank, as far as I know, became the only completely unknown non-acting golfer/screenwriter who doesn’t audition and still gets cast in commercials (and TV shows).
Back on the links, a buddy who worked on “Scrubs” suggested Frank fill an extra “extra” spot on the show. Before I know it, Frank’s in my TV, carrying a coffee cup and a doctor’s binder, and yes, wearing scrubs. His medical aura is so convincing that the producers anoint him “Dr. Mickhead” and start throwing him lines. “Whatever you say.” “Hey, if it works.” And so on. Four, five, six word lines, but still, a line’s a line and before he can say “fore” he’s in SAG, benefits and all.
Frank believes in chaos. It’s one of the reasons he perseveres in this business, with or without results… From my POV, he really believes in order and by acknowledging and elevating chaos he’s found his own way of marching towards beauty, art and life. But he’d bite my head off, chew it to a quivering chaotic mass if he ever reads that (which he will).
I believe writers write mostly to make sense of a random and unpredictable world. Even in the most anarchic story, there’s a beginning, middle and end and at least the semblance of symmetry within the story line, regardless of its trajectory. As Andrei Tarkovsky put it: “Sculpting in time.” And both writing and golf are sports that sculpt time out of chaos.
A recognized “working” actor buddy of Frank’s called for a favor the other day. He was meeting a potential new agent. The problem: The agent wanted him to prepare a monologue. This didn’t mesh well with Frankie. No way. “Here’s what you do: You go to that meeting with a laptop. When the agent asks for the monologue, you pull it out, flip it open and play it for him. The catch? It’s not you, it’s one of your buddies performing, but hey, it’s a monologue. Hell, you don’t need to do back flips for an agent.” The actor followed Frank’s instructions. The agency must have been amused: They signed the guy.
Frank’s Jesus script is gaining momentum once again and his TV pilot (it’s hilarious) is making its way up the ladder as I type. This may be the one. I’m fascinated by Frank’s unpredictable path in entertainment. He’s a chaos cowboy. He lassos whatever wild horses are thrown in his path and enjoys the ride because ultimately, it’s all meaningless.
Unless, of course, he nabs that Nike sponsorship.
Eternally optimistically yours,
Anne Norda is an award-winning artist, writer, director and producer with one feature, Red Is the Color Of (Best Feature Film, 2007 LA Femme Film Festival), under her belt. She was born in North Hollywood, schooled at the Parsons School of Design and was a Fulbright Scholar in photography. She’s a Finnish and U.S. citizen and has lived in Paris, Helsinki, LA, NY and Bangkok. Her dream is to run a major movie studio. Or be a Pulitzer prize-winning poet and dedicate her life to art and the transformation of humanity. Whichever may come first.