Life is never short on surreal moments. In the depths of the 1990s, I distinctly recall a certain movie night at a friends while in high school. It was a coed night, guys and gals huddled in a semicircle in front of a large TV in a dark living room. Looking back, it was reminiscent of early humans huddled around a camp fire. It was horror movie night, and the evening's random selection was Hellraiser: Bloodline. If you've seen the film, you're likely already laughing or have given up on this article. I'm not going to sugarcoat it: it's awful. But I distinctly remember watching it - and Doug Bradley's Pinhead - in all of it's period-piece-but-also-outer-space glory. Who knew fate would bring us together again?
Fast forward some fifteen odd years and I'm standing next to the very same man. This time, it's my own film. Doug had graciously accepted my offer (and script) to appear in my first feature Scream Park. Little did I know the past and present would collide in a single moment on set.
Here I was, first day, first scene, of my first feature film, and I was standing next to Pinhead himself. Even weirder, we were standing on the very same floor of the very same building where the University of Pittsburgh houses its film department. Less than a decade before, I was a film student trudging the halls and pinning up fliers for film projects. There was a load of pressure on the first day, but being inside those same walls gave it a familiar, comfortable feel, and we set up shop.
I was nervous. How could I not be? For all I knew Doug would show up on location, look around at our little ragged band of filmmakers and meager equipment and laugh in our faces. He appeared quietly (without the solving of any puzzle boxes) and from the very first moment was the utmost professional. We chatted through wardrobe, we rehearsed, we blocked the scene. When the camera finally rolled I lost myself in the video monitor as Doug brought the movie to life. I nearly forgot to call 'cut!'
He kept things light. I remain grateful for that, as it could have easily gotten strange. Before long, jokes were breaking out and it felt like we'd always been doing this. As lights were moved, lenses changed out, and coffee downed, we had somehow got on the topic of Alan Smithee. (If you're unfamiliar, read about it here)
"I worked with him," said Doug spiritedly.
I heard this and immediately spun on my heels to face him. "Hellraiser: Bloodline," I blurted out. It was the lamest bit of trivia since when we all realized that in Latin, Jehovah begins with an "I."
Doug was impressed.
At the end of the night, we had what we needed in the can. Doug autographed some posters for the film and we went our separate ways. The train had the left the station on Scream Park, and the momentum we were building would take us all the way. I'm sure most filmmakers remember that first day of their first feature film for the rest of their career. I'm glad my future began with a moment from my past.
(NOTE: I really wanted to call this article "My Dinner With Pinhead," but Doug never did take me up on the offer for a joint meal)