Lu Wen looked at Sun Xiaojian and asked with his eyes: Who is Director Liu?
Sun Xiaojian quickly checked personnel information in his mind. There were many people surnamed Liu, but only one person could be called the “director”. He was taken aback. He leaned into Lu Wen’s ear and said, “It looks like the production director’s surname is Liu.”
“Damn?” Lu Wen’s eyes widened. “The production director has come to pick me up in person?”
They were muttering with their heads down and did not notice that someone was approaching the door. When the door was opened again, Lu Wen and Sun Xiaojian looked up together.
Director Liu appeared at the door. The exquisite Armani suit could not conceal the fat beer belly, and the gold-wire glasses could not conceal the surprise on his face. He was stunned for a moment, blocking the door and looking at the people in the car.
The driver took the lead in breaking the deadlock and said: “Director Liu, This is…”
Sun Xiaojian reacted quickly and moved away from the seat, holding both hands and stretching out: “Dr. Liu, hello, I didn’t expect you to come in person.”
Director Liu shook his hand lightly, but his eyes remained on Lu Wen, as if trying to remember who it was. Sun Xiaojian said immediately: “This is my artist Lu Wen. He joined the production group today. We just got off the plane at that time.”
Director Liu suddenly realized and nodded: “It’s Xiao Lu.”
“Director Liu, hello.” Lu Wen said.
Director Liu asked: “Have you contacted the crew? Who is responsible for picking you up?”
“It’s Xiao Zhang.” Sun Xiaojian said, “Xiao Zhang is probably busy. When we saw the crew car parked here, we came up by ourselves.”
Director Liu took out his cell phone and dialed the number while saying: “This Xiao Zhang is famous for being impetuous with his work and often making mistakes. Wait a moment, and I will contact him and ask.”
Lu Wen gripped the bottle of Paris water with an unknown premonition.
“What are you doing? Sending a few cars can also cause problems. You let the artist get off the plane and be left hanging by you? Don’t talk about schedules and don’t apologize to me.”
Director Liu scolded the person through the phone. After a few words, he lifted his eyebrows after hanging up the line and said, “Xiao Lu, this is the case. I asked Xiao Zhang, the car that will pick you up should be another one.”
Lu Wen: “Huh?”
“The actors who entered the production group in the past two days are relatively a lot, and the car cannot be dispatched on time. It may be a little slow.” Director Liu said, “I have scolded Xiao Zhang. Let’s wait for you to join the group and I’ll let him apologize to you properly.”
Lu Wen was a little confused: “Then we now…”
Director Liu smiled, and tactfully replied: “Then let’s meet at the crew.”
Lu Wen’s wheat-colored face turned red, he sat until the seat turned warm, drank half a bottle of Paris water, rubbed the Shu embroidered pillow in his arms, and now you told him that this car was not for him?
It was equivalent to Cinderella putting on her makeup, beautiful dress and crystal shoes, but the pumpkin carriage refused to carry her.
Sun Xiaojian had encountered this kind of situation for the first time since he had started his career. It could be concluded that he had completely lost his face. He gritted his teeth and said, “There is extra space. Can we go together?”
“I’m afraid it’s not very convenient.” Director Liu said, “Please be considerate.”
Originally, they were already losing their face but when it was said clearly like this, it tantamount to humiliating oneself again. Lu Wen’s head buzzed. He got up abruptly and got out of the car.
At this time, Director Liu stepped aside, revealing Qu Yanting who had been standing behind him.
Lu Wen just stopped right in front of Qu Yanting. He lowered his head and looked at the person who was actually the one picked up by Porsche and the production director. However, Qu Yanting’s sunglasses cover most of his face, so Lu Wen could only see his own expression reflected on the lens.
Embarrassed, disappointed, unhappy.
Immediately, Qu Yanting lifted his leg into the car and sat in the position where Lu Wen was just sitting.
The driver unloaded several suitcases and put Qu Yanting’s suitcase in. Lu Wen and Sun Xiaojian stood side by side, watching the door close, the engine started, and the Porsche was about to leave them.
After a while, Lu Wen rushed up and patted the car door vigorously.
Qu Yanting didn’t have much patience left. He lowered the window to a gap and asked, “What’s the matter?”
Lu Wen raised the pillow in his arms: “I just forgot to put it down.”
Qu Yanting said indifferently: “Keep it as a souvenir.”
Without waiting for Lu Wen’s response, Qu Yanting closed the car window. The Porsche gradually left the airport, leaving behind a trail of exhaust gas.
Sun Xiaojian raised his cell phone: “The license plate number is here.”
In the past he was subjected to cold reception from the production crew but now that he was the number one male lead he was still being neglected. Lu Wen was speechless: “It’s really fast, They must have used Internet Explorer.”
Sun Xiaojian coaxed: “Just let them go. You wait here, I’ll look for the car.”
Ten minutes later, Lu Wen finally got into his nanny car. He didn’t know who had been in this car before, there was a lingering smell of perfume. He held his elbow to admire the scenery flying by the window, thinking with emotion, there were so many slopes in Chongqing, no wonder he experienced the ups and downs.
Lu Wen couldn’t help sing the lyrics: “Floating in the sea of people, but dreams…”
He was born with a low pitch voice, singing too softly like a mobile phone vibrating. Sun Xiaojian said: “Don’t sing again, you are now an actor.”
Lu Wen turned a deaf ear: “Love is forever passed on and floats in the sky…”
The car turned around and slid into an old block after more than two hours. The roadside was full of old trees and residential buildings. After driving for a while, there were a few nanny cars parked in front of them, which seemed to be temporary parking spaces rented by the crew.
“Here?” Lu Wen didn’t see anyone.
The driver was pretty chill: “Follow me.”
Lu Wen and Sun Xiaojian followed the driver and passed through a narrow alley. When they got out of the alley they seemed to enter a completely different place. Another old street and several residential buildings appeared in front of them.
The crew was already here.
The scene in front of them was very close to the scene described in the script.
The old streets had cracks and stains on the pavement. There was a rusty “no passing” sign on the sidewalk. He had no idea when the construction was complete. The people passing by turned a blind eye to it. There was a feral cat laid directly under the sign to sleep, looking much more comfortable than first class cabin.
There were several shops on the street, including a small supermarket, a barber shop, a photo studio that also run a printing business, and two snack shops that had been in business for more than a decade.
The community across the street was quite old. There were no gates and security. Everyone could enter and exit at will. There were only two buildings in the community. The paint on the walls of the buildings peeled off on a large area, and the slightly flattened areas are covered with small advertisements. There were a total of seven floors. Some people did not seal the balcony, air-drying underpants and dried sausages on it.
The balcony on the third floor was the cleanest, with a row of potted plants and two pairs of clean sneakers on the windowsill. One of the windows was missing a piece and was pasted with a math paper, which had a big “39 points” on it.
Lu Wen looked up and he knew that it was his “home”.
The community was next to an abandoned primary school, separated by a playground wall. To facilitate entry and exit, several of the fences on the wall were removed. Every evening, the old man and the old lady went into the playground for a walk and dance.
There was a grapevine in the innermost part of the community, with dense branches and leaves covering the frame like a pavilion. Over the years, whenever someone moved away, they would throw away a few pieces of furniture, and slowly put together a round table and four chairs under the shelf.
Some people played mahjong under the vines all day long, and two yuan would be charged after the game, because the grapevine pavilion had an owner and it was the only place in the community that was being taken care of.
Lu Wen felt a little lost. Everything described in the script appeared in front of him, as if the fictional world really existed.
Sun Xiaojian said to the side: “This is too realistic. Is it true or really just a set?”
This sentence brought Lu Wen back to reality. He realized that this was the crew, with more than 200 people coming in and out, all from various departments.
The start of the shooting was just around the corner. Each group was scrambling to make arrangements, including more than forty rooms and countless small scenes. From furniture to a broken ballpoint pen wrapped in tape, there were 6,300 items on the art director’s list that need to be verified one by one.
In fact, the crew had been rooted in Chongqing for a month and a half. Except for the preparation work, the empty scenes in the play had already been filmed.
A lean young man ran out of a site with a large stack of forms under his arm. He stopped when he saw Lu Wen. He greeted him: “Our male lead is here, I apologize for my mistake.”
Sun Xiaojian guessed: “Xiao Zhang?”
“That’s me.” Xiao Zhang bowed ninety degrees toward Lu Wen, “Sorry, today is too busy. After I sent the car, I went to count the props. I’m really sorry.”
Lu Wen’s temper had always come and go just like wind, which is also called “big nerves”1[T/N: 神经大条 = big nerves. Which means straightforward but careless. Someone who is sloppy or not careful about things that should be taken seriously.]. He grinned and said, “It’s okay.”
“Thank you for being considerate.” Xiao Zhang said and pulled out a form, “Mr. Lu, please sign in first, and then I will take you to familiarize yourself with the crew.”
Sun Xiaojian asked, “Is Director Ren here? Let’s greet him first.”
Xiao Zhang said, “Director Ren has gone to shoot outdoor scenes. He said that everyone will meet tomorrow and there is no need to wait for him.”
Lu Wen escaped the most annoying of pretending to be a grandson2[T/n: 装孙子 zhuāng sūn zi. Literally translating to pretending to be a grandson. Trying to act pitiful while flattering others.]. After signing in, he became familiar with the crew environment with Sun Xiaojian. The control room, storeroom and dressing room were all concentrated in one unit.
The unit 101 was a two-bedroom suite, which was cleaned and softly furnished to be used as the director’s lounge. However, the director was very busy and basically had no time to rest.
There was an open space outside the back door of the community, full of large RVs with uniformed specifications. After finding the one with Lu Wen’s name, Xiao Zhang said: “The actor is resting in the RV and if you need to replenish any items or food just tell the crew’s assistant.”
Sun Xiaojian asked: “After work is over, I have to cross the alley to take the car?”
“Yes, the place is small, so the cars had to be parked at the street next door.” Xiao Zhang replied.
Sun Xiaojian asked suggestively: “Everyone rides in the nanny car?”
“It’s all the same.” Xiao Zhang said, “Mr. Lu is the number one male lead so I specially arranged a new car. There are also actors gathered at the crew in two days, and the female lead will arrive at noon.”
Sun Xiaojian refused to give up on his evil thought: “I think there is still a Porsche.”
“There is indeed a Porsche but it is a private car. I don’t have the authority to arrange it.” Xiao Zhang recalled, “Oh yes, you got off the plane and waited for the car, why did Director Liu call me?”
Sun Xiaojian said: “We met Director Liu at the airport.”
Xiao Zhang muttered: “What is Director Liu doing at the airport?”
Lu Wen and Sun Xiaojian looked at each other. Director Ren’s car was sent out and even old Director Liu went to pick him up. They had no idea who that person was. If that person was very popular, there should be fans gathered at the airport. If it was a big name, they should have recognized him.
According to the unspoken law in the industry, this kind of treatment was not for an ordinary unknown person. Eighty percent were those with a powerful background.
Xiao Zhang still had things to do and said: “If you have any questions, please come to me at any time. If there’s nothing else, please go back to the hotel and rest early. May I ask, do you stay in the hotel arranged by the crew or solve it yourself?”
The crew would arrange accommodation. But the actors couldn’t bear loneliness, they would go out on a date or other appointment. In order to avoid a large area of vacancies, the crew would ask in advance.
Lu Wen said: “I’ll solve it by myself.”
Without delay, he always chose to live outside because he was an eighteenth tier actor and he would need to greet higher rank actors in the corridor, which was very annoying. Moreover, his company had a cooperation with a fixed hotel, they would provide him with a room all year round.
The phone rang, which happened to be a message from the hotel, asking if he needed a car to pick him up and drop off, whether to choose private meals, whether to book a swimming pool, movies, spas etc., then a person would be arranged for reception.
Lu Wen didn’t really care, he glanced over a few lines and only looked at the room number which was a high-altitude river view room, 6207.
- 1[T/N: 神经大条 = big nerves. Which means straightforward but careless. Someone who is sloppy or not careful about things that should be taken seriously.]
- 2[T/n: 装孙子 zhuāng sūn zi. Literally translating to pretending to be a grandson. Trying to act pitiful while flattering others.]