The Scott Shaw Blog Be Positive

I Broke a Wine Glass AKA Thinking of the Demon Lover and How Nothing Last Forever

I was rinsing out the wine glass I had been enjoying my nightly bottle of wine via in the sink the other night and I was about to put it into the dishwasher. Out of nowhere, it just kind of slipped. I banged it on the sink and it broke. No big deal, really… It was kind of funny as I was just earlier that day reflecting on the fact that I had not broken a glass, a cup, a plate, or anything in I can’t remember when… …You know how it is, every now and then some piece of glassware gets broken. But, for me, it had been a very-very long time. But, I’ll get back to that in a moment.

The next day, my lady and I were out in the Valley and she suggested we go to Chili John’s for lunch, as we had not been there in a long time. Great idea, I thought. I headed over in the direction of Burbank Blvd.

As I sat there in Chili John’s, I couldn't help but think back to the early days of Zen Filmmaking and Donald G. Jackson as we used to eat there all the time. In my book on Zen Filmmaking, in the chapter I wrote on The Roller Blade Seven, I discuss how some of my happiest memories, during that production, were when we were doing the Telecine on RB7 and the studio runner, Alex would hop over to Chili John’s and grab us, our colorists, and himself, our lunch so we could stay focused on the film.

…It’s just kind of weird but I have so many abstract memories of that restaurant, associated with Don and I—having impromptu production meeting, taking actresses with us to eat, etc…

Anyway, after our chili I realized that my taste buds must have changed a bit over the years as now I find their chili a bit salty. But, their French Press coffee was AOK.

I got home that evening and I read an email from somebody wondering why Don had signed the rights to his film Demon Lover over to me but I have never done the sequel. …Just not my kind of movie… There’s the answer to your question if you are reading this because I never answer emails with questions like that. Why? Because no one ever seems to be satisfied with the answer you give them.

Anyway, it all got me to thinking about The Demon Lover, Don, and how he has been dead for like seventeen years at this point in time. It also got me to re-pondering a conversation I had with a fan of Don’s several months back. The gentleman had referenced that he had seen, Demon Lover Diary, my doc on Don,
Diary of a Michigan Migrant Filmmaker, etc…

Shortly before Don passed away they showed, Demon Lover Diary at the Director’s Guild of America in association with the Los Angeles Film Festival. It was like the last grand stand for Don as he became very ill soon after that and checked into the hospitable for the last days of his life. At the showing there were all of these film aficionados. But, only his closest friends, of which there were very few, surrounded Don.

Standing in the lobby that evening, it was so bizarre to me that no one even knew who Don was. No one recognized him. Yet, they were there to see a film made about him. Plus, there had been tons-and-tons of press on the movie in all the local newspaper. His picture was out there. Sure, he was a few decades older, but his essence had never changed.

Also, to understand all of this, it is really essential to keep in mind; I never watched the movies that Don made, unless I was directly involved with the production. They just weren’t my style of cinematic fare. Thus, I had never seen this documentary created by Joel DeMott and Jeff Kreines. So, it was an experience for me too.

When it was time for the movie to start, Don and I and his crew sat near the back of the theatre while Don loudly talked, telling stories about the truth about what was going on, and about the part that the filmmakers cut out or did not truthfully represent. Don always hated that film but he was the star of the film.

On a funny side note, referencing the film aficionados in attendance, one guy leaned over to me and asks if I could tell that guy (Don) to be quiet. “That’s Don Jackson,” I exclaimed. The guy moved to another seat. Happy

I mean, come on… Who do you really want to hear the story from?

The film was over and they asked Don to speak. He and I were walking to a secondary auditorium with photos snapping away.

For you photographers, who were taking those pictures, if you have a shot of Don and I, hook me up; I would love to have one.

Don spoke, answered some questions, and that was that. Afterwards we and the crew went to another of Don and my favorite dining establishments, Juniors Deli over in West L.A. Now, like Don, that restaurant is no more.

Skipping forward… Sometime after Don passed away, I did the documentary I promised him I would make, Diary of a Michigan Migrant Filmmaker. Though certainly not as critically acclaimed as Demon Lover Diary, I think it provides the viewer with a true window into the mind and the filmmaking style of Donald G. Jackson. Which also brings me back to the point of mentioning the fan of his filmmaking… During the aforementioned conversation, I mentioned the fact that I could have created an entirely different take on DGJ in that doc.

Don was one of those people that from the moment the video revolution hit he was always having people film him. As I’ve stated in the past, he really had an Elvis complex, believing that he was the center of the universe. Me, I’m not like that. I don’t like photo or videos being made of me. Though, when I’m occasionally acting in the A-market that is exactly what they do the entire time you’re on set.

Anyway… I have a lot of footage of Don. And, a lot of it is very unflattering. As I told this fan/gentleman, I could have presented an entirely different perspective on Don. In fact, when I was doing, Diary of a Michigan Migrant Filmmaker, I thought to perhaps make the Yin and Yang doc. One good, one bad. But, I don’t know… Editing that old style video footage just takes such a large amount of time, I’m just not really into it anymore. So, I guess, unless some new inspiration hits, I will probably leave well enough alone…

So, what does this all tell us? It tells us that things break, that people die, that people are presented to the world in the way other people view them but in all of these cases it is only the true inner knowledge of the person that knows who they truly are. It is only the way a person wishes to be perceived by the world that causes them to project themselves in a specific manner. It is only the people that truly know them that truly know them. It is then only the personal memories that we have that lead us to the way we present those memories and to describe the life of another person. And mostly, it is only what we live in this moment that provides us with the creative fuel to define what we create and give back to the world.

Times change, we change. Chili John’s chili is saltier than I remember it. Me, I am one of the last people to hold the torch for my friend Donald G. Jackson. I guess when I’m gone he will be gone and all that will be left is the documentaries that Joel and Jeff created and the one(s) I created, each presenting only a very specific view of an individual. That's just life… And, a very important thing to keep in mind whenever you are pondering the life of anyone else. Especially someone you do not personally know. Remember, you don't know them!

As for me, I guess I must hit on over to the 99¢ store and pick up a new wine glass. …Cause that’s all we have, what we live in this moment and then what we remember that other moment to have been.