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Snakes and Ladders (A Hollywood SI/OC)

Hollywood, the land of dreams, the birthplace of modern cinema, the-. ah, who am I kidding, it's just a big old game of snakes and ladders. You either go up or down, depending on whether you got a ladder, or a snake in your corner. But what happens if you just, flip the board over? Let's see what happens when Richmond 'Ricky' Stirling attempts to do precisely that. Why wouldn't he? When life is just a game for him. Don't forget to add this to your collections for daily updates, and leave a 5 star review will you? It'll be much appreciated. Do share your honest feedback though. As an author, I strive to improve myself and I can't do that without my dear readers' varied opinions. Also, don't forget to join my discord server: https://disc ord.gg/uh2fS Guatb P.S, here is my p.a.t.r.e.o.n account for additional chapters: https://www.patr eon.com/user?u=42 576719 (remove the spaces after copy pasting the link) or just search 'Archonstine' on patreon... whichever works

Archonstine · Movies
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69 Chs

Unforgiven

Author's note: I now have a p-word as you all know, so if you feel like reading 3, and soon enough 5 advanced chapters at the measly price of $3, then do join. The link is in this book's bio, or you can just search 'Archonstine' followed by p-word on your browser.

Also, join my discord will ya? For movie and tv-show recommendations and character images. The link is in this book's bio.

30th May, 1996 (Thursday)

Ricky Stirling (POV)

"Janice?"

"Janice, it's me! I'm sorry Jan, I'm-I am sorry Jan, I panicked and just…" I rambled in my drunken haze, as I moved around the dark living room with my camcorder in one hand, recording my face from my right, as I made my way towards the switchboard.

"Jan? Please, just forgive me Jan, I panicked okay? I panicked, I shouldn't have but… just, forgive me… please." I whispered the last word as I set the camcorder on the dining table and fumbled my hand across the wall, trying to locate the switchboard to my left.

I almost stumbled upon a raised step as I finally felt the switches under the finger and turned them all on without an ounce of hesitation.

"Oh, fuckin… hell." I whispered, as the lights shined brightly in my bloodshot eyes, my expressions sluggish, as I tried to overcome my inebriated state.

After a few experimental blinks, I finally opened my eyes, and spun them around the adjoining kitchen, before setting them on the camcorder.

My actions still jittery from being intoxicated, I saw the faint hint of a shadow resembling a human within the lens of the camera.

"JANICE!" I yelled as I turned around, overjoyed at her presence, and was just about to launch myself into a hug, when our eyes met.

And I stopped. "J-janice?" I asked with trepidation, finding her disheveled appearance to be far from comforting, and the eerie smile on her face, confirming the fact that something was wrong.

And in her eyes, her dark eyes… wait.

Janice had green eyes.

"J-Jan? Y-your eyes, they… wha-" when all of a sudden, she launched herself at me, her face twisting into a snarl.

She jumped at me, and pushed me out of the frame, and an anguished scream, filled to the brim with nothing but unadulterated fright rang out from me, as she landed on me.

I quickly braced myself and caught her in my arms, to soften her fall, to ensure that she could recover quickly enough, and she did.

I laid on the carpeted floor, my voice dying down as Missy to my right played a sound of a demonic version of a snarl.

Just then, 'Janice' lunged at the camcorder, and knocked it off the table.

3, no 4 seconds passed, before I raised my voice, "CUT!"

And the tension broke instantly, as Trent started clapping in enthusiasm, no doubt at my masterful execution of the finale, "Great work people, Janice, I can't begin to describe just how awesome that was, truly brilliant!"

Trent, you son of bitc-,no, no I can't do this. I can't call his mother the b-word, she's an angel. Trent on the other hand… Sigh.

I cleared my throat before speaking, "All right people, let's not get ahead of ourselves. This was only our second take, let's review the footage before hoisting our own petard. Then we'll all go out and eat some pizzas, if, and only if, we've got our shot." I finished while making my way to the camcorder.

I opened it up and extracted the tape before making my way to the television set while Trent, Missy, and Janice made their way to the sofa, not leaving any space for me.

That's fine I suppose, I was gonna sit in the armchair anyway, I found it far more comfy.

"We have it." Missy muttered, as my eyes remained fixed to the screen.

"WE HAVE IT!" Screamed almost all of us at once.

No one knew who started first, but soon the four of us were hugging the crap out of each other, all the while screaming at the top of our voice, "WE HAVE IT!"

Because we did. Have it, I mean. The second I finished reviewing the footage, I came to a realization. I had just completed principal photography and filming on my first ever feature length film. Granted I'll have to face the real challenge soon, which is post-production.

It might take me a few days, 3 tops, but I'll have to edit the clips and trim the raw footage. Then I'll have to smoothen the transitions and ensure the runtime does not exceed 90 minutes.

One thing that'll certainly work in my favor is the fact that due to the innovative use of practical visual effects, not a hint of CGI will be necessary for the finalized version.

And after the post-production, when I will have the finalized copy on my hands, it'll be the marketing that'll make the difference. Otherwise there is a very real chance that my first ever venture will fade into obscurity due to a lack of interest.

To ensure that such a scenario does not occur, I'll need to build up its notoriety somehow.

Eh, I'll think about it later, for now… I believe I've earned a night out with my friends. And Janice.

She's not a friend, not by a long shot. In fact, I've found her to be surprisingly unlikeable.

Well, since the filming is over, and I'll hardly need her for the promotion, I guess we can finally go our separate ways, so good riddance I suppose.

After tonight I guess, I did promise 'them all' some pizzas. Like it or not, that includes Janice.

3rd June 1996 (Monday)

Ricky Stirling (POV)

"So what you are telling me, is that this film reel, this montage… is the finalized version?" Daddy Dearest asked, desperately wishing I was playing a joke on him.

Too bad, I wasn't.

"Yes, that is… exactly what I'm telling you. That is the finalized copy. Well almost, that's why I came to you, so if you would just lis-" I managed to say before I was cut off.

"Ricky, how many… how many days has it been?" He asked and just as I was about to answer, he raised his hand, a clear indication to keep my trap closed.

So I did.

"Let me answer that for you. You took 15 minutes of my time on the 18th, that's less than 3 weeks ago. When did you start filming?"

"2 days after our talk, so on 20th." I replied succinctly.

I know I shouldn't, but on some level, I'm finding his little freak out hilarious to watch.

"Okay, so 20. And you shot every day? That includes Sunday?" I nodded my head and he continued, "And when did you finish?"

"30th."

"So you're telling me that you filmed 90 minutes worth of footage in 10 days and nights, and took 3 days to edit it into something feasible for a theatrical release?"

"Yes… well almost, see that's why I came to you right now. The movie was shot on a camcorder, and so the montage is available on 16 mm film. I need this converted into 35 mm film. For that, I need to use a film lab. Now, considering I want to preserve the realis-... Dad? Hello?" I snapped my finger in front of my face, "you listening?"

"Get your hands out of my face." He said gravely, but a tiny little blush still made it on his face, signaling his embarrassment at being unable to remain graceful in the face of my news. Rightfully so, I say.

"I'm listening, you want to convert it into 35 mm." He repeated.

"Yes, And for that, I'll need access to a post production facility. Now as I recall, you have a number of film labs in this very building, and almost half of them are unoccupied right now. I'll pay, don't worry… just give me access for the next… 4 days, no wait 5. Yes, 5 days."

He opened his mouth and instead of the resounding 'yes' that I was expecting, he released a sigh of exasperation, before opening a drawer under his table and taking out…

Goddamnit. It was amusing at first, but I really need to work on my frequency of delivering extremely shocking news to him.

Otherwise, I might just become responsible for his inevitable liver failure down the road, the way he is guzzling that rum straight from the flask…

All right," He said, closing the flask and setting it down on the table before continuing, "it'll be 5 grand a day for the film lab, you better find a way to work it into your budget. It'll be a simple lease contract, boilerplate stuff, but I better not hear rumors of how your new movie will be distributed by Stirling Star Studios meanwhile. Don't forget, you wanted this. You could've joined me here, picked a quality script and made a mid-budget film as your debut with the strongest technical team supporting you in every way possible. A-list actors, a world renowned cinematographer, and a grand red carpet premiere to go with it."

He wasn't done, not by a long shot.

"You refused, point blank, so now you're making it on your own. You wanted an opportunity to prove yourself? You got it, and you're not getting any other favors. We'll see how your little 'experiment' fares at the… 18 festivals, you were talking about-"

"Actually… about those… I'm not submitting them."

A deafening silence enveloped the room, as I could see my father's judging eyes plant themselves on me.

I had never felt smaller before.

"Ricky, I'm giving you 5 minutes… explain."

I didn't waste a single second before launching into my planned tirade, "So I did some research, called up a few people and found out that most of the horror film festivals will be in late October, November and December. It'll be too late by then, it's imperative that this movie releases on Halloween. So I stayed last night and created a new marketing strategy from scratch. But before sharing it, I want that test screening you promised in Sherwood Cinema."

My father simply grinned knowingly, "I was waiting for you to realize that. I knew you would run right back to me after realizing your film festival idea was a big fat dud. Now humor me… why the test screening? What would change whether it happens or not? And no spinning your tale around, I want it straight. You hear me?" He finished, his finger pointed at me menacingly.

I raise my hands in an effort to appease him, "Ok-ok, just relax would you? And stop eyeing the rum, you're worked up enough as it is, just listen… that's all I ask. Ok, the test screening is not to judge its box office potential, I know exactly how much it can earn… with the right marketing. But you don't, and if I tell you the projections I've come to, you'll never believe me. Because you haven't seen it yourself. You haven't experienced what I want everyone on Halloween to experience when they watch the movie. I'm referring to the feeling… of being scared shitless."

"Come on, I know you're giving me a hard time right now, I can… guess why. This is one of your messed up lessons. I told you I wanted to make it on my own before joining you here. You obviously disagreed, and are now gloating, wanting me to come out and say you were right and I was in way over my head." I could see the smugness hidden behind his eyes, he was enjoying this.

I love you dad, I really do, but I'm sorry for what I'm about to do next.

"Well… unfortunately for you, I'm made of sterner stuff than you think. So here's how this is gonna go, you opt for a test screening with a couple of bigwigs from Stirling Star, and anyone unlucky enough to end up there on that day. After that we'll negotiate a distribution contract. I'll fund and head the marketing efforts myself. If you continue being stubborn, I have no qualms with leveraging my connections as a world-renowned sci-fi author to get in touch with the folks at Warner Bros, or Lionsgate, or just maybe… Miramax."

And that last word finally elicited a reaction from him. His eyes widened dramatically as every last hint of vanity disappeared from his face. "How did you… how much do you know?" He nearly mumbled.

I had to strain my ears to hear him. I made out his words just fine though through a neat little trick I picked up…

Lip Reading: Lvl Max

"Enough." I whispered back as I leaned behind on my chair, finally giving my back a rest. "I've walked around this place quite a few times. Every single time, I've heard snippets of conversations, unrelated sentences that would've made no sense to anyone, but I'm not exactly run of the mill, am I? Or have you forgotten that little fact, daddy dearest? I have 3 best-selling books, I'm releasing a 4th one in a month, right around the time I receive at the very minimum, 5 Eisner Awards. I'll be the talk of the town, and once I slip the news about an immersive horror film that I've created entirely on my own… All it'll take is a screening to cause a bidding war for its distribution rights. You know exactly how much the whores at Paramount want to make an adaptation of my books. All I need to do is dangle one in front of them, and I'll have them panting on all fours."

I'm just about to deliver the finishing blow when he interrupts, "You keep talking a big game, but there's no guarantee is there? You have got a lot riding on this hypothetical screening… Fine, let me make a few calls, Sherwood Cinema, next Sunday. You better hope this goes well, cause it's your ass on the line boy. You understand?"

"I do. Thank you for this... opportunity. You won't regret it." I smile.

"I know I won't. Just one thing before you go… if you ever again dare to threaten me… with Miramax, I'll kick you out of the house." Fuck, I could feel the tension behind that.

It seems I didn't just poke at the hornet's nest, but rather shot fucking arrows at it.

A note for the future, Miramax is a taboo topic for daddy dearest. But the raw intensity, and the fact that his threat was not an over-reaction, this isn't just some run of the mill business rivalry.

They are competitors for sure, but this is personal. Father hates Harvey Weinstein with every single breath left in his body, and his despise is fueled by something Harvey did. Not to my dad, otherwise, there wouldn't be an underlying sensation of guilt within him. No, he did something to someone that Dad really fucking cares about. But who?

Eh, who cares. 

Well I do, but I've got years to sort this out. Right now, I need to focus all my efforts on marketing. That means, websites, chatrooms, creepy backstories, posters of the screening, and viral pictures of fake police reports.

Yeah, this should go well.

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