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If you're going out this Halloween be sure to attach a little TV set to your costume so you can watch my movie about Romania which airs Oct. 31, Halloween, on PBS' Frontline. And tell all your friends to wear a costume with a TV, maybe a pregnant belly that is actually a TV, or big hair with a TV on top, or a TV-hump that everyone can watch as you lurch. This unabashed self-promotion comes from your usually modest columnist because I worked so hard on this movie I want the whole world to see it. First of all, I had to suffer the grievous regime of a Polish director whose style makes Marine boot camp look like child's play. For instance, after 14 brutal hours of running the crew through grueling repetitions of the same scene (buying a loaf of bread), he ordered everyone to bed without supper. "FILMMAKING IS NOT CATERING!" he snarled. To a mild initiative from the cameraman, he screamed: "IMPOSSIBLE! YOU WILL NEVER AMOUNT TO ANYTHING!" The poor guy shriveled like a salted worm. He never said that to me or I'd have clocked him. The last guy who said that to me was Giovanni, the padrone of a pizza joint in Chicago where I worked for two days. I kept making the pizzas square instead of a round and, after giving me another chance as a delivery boy, he screamed: "YOU NEVER GONNA BE NOTHING, BOY!" True, I dropped about 14 deliveries when I flew off my bike, but I expected some marinara on my bruises, not abuse. Giovanni may have been right. I got away from that good warm job only to end up 30 years later working in the rain under the tyranny of a Polish despot. Our other producer offered the explanation that our director's behavior was the result of his training at the Polish Film School in Warsaw during the 1960s. Roman Polanski went to the same school and was so psychologically damaged he could only handle very young girls. Adults must have reminded him of his professors. My director is very jealous of Polanski, with whom he shared a class on something. Sadism, I think. "WHY IS POLANSKI FAMOUS?" he shouted, "HE WAS THIRD IN HIS CLASS!" Whereupon he ordered us to drive through the desert of Dobrogea all the way to the Black Sea without any water. When we tried to buy a watermelon to quench our delirious leathery tongues, he hissed, "If you eat that, you are going to have to pee, and this car will not stop until we get there, ten hours from now!" A crew revolt started brewing, but we couldn't agree on how to dispose of the body. The cameraman wanted him dumped in a field of wilted corn where wild dogs were eating a dead horse. The other producer suggested hiring some of the thugs that work in the lobbies of state-owned Romanian hotels to rough him up. He was kind. I merely shrugged my shoulders, said, "This too shall pass," and I made a fat straw doll that looked very Polish and I stuck a ten-inch nail in it. After three weeks of filmic terror, we looked at the result. It's terrific. Every scene was perfectly set. All the pictures made sense. All that suffering, and the thing came out phenomenal. Inexplicable. Film-making is just like life: a person can look great on the outside even though they just did ten years at Angola on latrine duty. When you do watch it -- Oct. 31, Halloween, Frontline on PBS -- remember this: I suffered for your viewing pleasure.


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