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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Romance  |  House: Booksie Classic

Submitted: May 07, 2017

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Submitted: May 07, 2017





ABOUT ME  4 (early 20's)  Montreal

The job itself, was pretty much of a ‘gopher’ thing, however it allowed me to work at the CTV station, and eventually procure contracts with several other ongoing and pilot shows, as writer and researcher. And….all said, the pay was quite decent, all shows combined.

I did see some very ‘funny stuff’ going on.

Payments going out to Los Angeles writers who never sent in a show.

Unsolicited scripts coming in from TV critics, who were paid, just to keep happy and positive about shows that were airing.

The show I worked on was called Excuse My French, and was a reworked version of the American television hit 'Bridgette Loves Bernie, which was a reworked version  of  of the early 50's Broadway hit 'Abie's Irish Rose.'

It wasn’t a terribly good show, and required a lot of ‘sweetening’, (canned laughter) when the live audiences attending Thursday and Friday night tapings, failed to laugh at supposedly funny lines in the script.

During hiatus of Excuse My French, and before attaining work on other CTV shows (The Editors, Musiquebec, The Mad Dash, and some pilot shows)as researcher/writer, my very good friend Suzanne Roy, who I worked with on ‘EMF’ offered me work, on one of David Cronenberg’s early films, ‘Rabid’.

Suzanne’s boyfriend at the time, was in charge of Second Unit Work.

Second Unit Work involves all the work done in front of the camera, that does not involve the major stars, who in fact may have already flown home. A film is not shot in the sequence of the story, but in time contracted with the main actors.

It was my job, to scout locations, indoor and out, take pictures with a Polaroid camera, bring them back to the Second Unit director, who would in turn pass them on to David Cronenberg.

(*Note). Don’t be too quick in agreeing to have your home used for a movie shoot, no matter how good the money, or the fact that you can brag to your friends that your ’place’ was used for such and such a film. That is unless you don’t mind gouged floors, left by heavy camera equipment being dragged across the hallway hardwood, or, “oops….there goes Aunt Pittiman’s 17th century Qing Dynasty vase . How did that get get in the way”?


The job also entailed driving the largest Winnebago I had ever seen. Yikes!


While chauffeuring the star of ‘Rabid’, Marilyn Chambers(the Ivory Snow Girl turned porno star) and her boyfriend/bodyguard to and from locations, I feared that I would kill all three us.

This big van was almost impossible for me to maneuver, and when I would drive them to their hotel at night, on roads that were slick with freezing rain, and no windshield washer fluid to remove the debris, steering this large vehicle into the underground of The Bonaventure Hotel, and not hitting a cement pole, was for me, a nervous challenge.


One particular week, (it was in February) we did three days worth of ’shooting’ in The Eastern Townships. About a forty-five minute drive from Montreal.

There had been relatively no snow that winter, and what little there was, had not remained.

The third morning of filming  was a nightmare. It had snowed heavily during the night.


None of the exterior prints could be matched.

So there I was, frantically trying to find a gas station that hadn't sold out of window washer fluid. I was speeding to the oil refineries in the eastern part of Montreal, in an attempt to rent industrial heaters, so that snow could be melted off rooftops and ground surfaces..

Have you ever lifted an industrial heater?

DON’T, if you have easier and better things to do!

Working in the movies, particularly second unit work, is not for the weak, or faint of heart.

One has to be at the studio at 5 am. There’s a full days work, which usually means sitting through the ‘rushes’ at the end of the work day (filming that has taken place in the past day or two), which usually gets you home by 10 or 11pm. It is physically demanding.

I admire those that can do it.

I never met or saw David Cronenberg.

© Copyright 2018 Lionel Walfish. All rights reserved.

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