River changes her mind about you and the blaster, so it jams and you smack the side and get harpooned before you can try shooting it again.
It takes four takes for you to be happy with your death, and another two for Simon to emote something that can work as a response.
You wrap within a week of filming, but it turns out that the original director/creator was ‘committed to other projects’ so the task falls to you. You have no idea what you’re doing, but your wife is very encouraging and Josh does his best to take your many, many calls. He calls ‘Flying Fires’ his baby, but if the series was his baby, the film is his baby that he left in the woods and ended up being raised by wolves.
It’s an unfortunate but apt analogy, especially since you don’t remember getting permission to pull those set and props out of storage, but somehow, you have them. River is strangely silent on the topic, and the good Father just looks knowingly toward the sky and says “ask and you shall receive” whenever the topic comes up.
That’s all well and good, but you didn’t ask and God didn’t break into a warehouse for you.
This is going to be a long three months, but it’s nice being on set with the old gang, winding up the story and giving everyone some closure. Well, you hope. You still aren’t sure you won’t get sued for this, and River wrote the script with negligible input from anyone else, including the two people you intended to have write it.
If all else fails you think it might count as a ‘transformative work’.
The legalities are all a bit up in the air, but one thing is true: you guys are making a great movie. A worthy finale to the cut-short series. You hope. It’s your wolf baby now-- as long as it doesn’t gnaw on the furniture, you’ll be happy.
It pays to have low expectations, not that any of the fans do. There’s a whole lot of theorizing, and Inara’s mostly running the marketing campaign between filming and teaching. Her schedule is pretty full, but you see she still has time to entertain Mal.
Mal should be the director by rights, but he’s in nearly every scene, and Simon won’t listen to him, and River won’t listen anyone but Simon. You can feel your blood pressure climbing as the days go by. It’s a team effort, you insist, everyone steps up to direct segments of it, make suggestions, argue a lot and tell River to stop filming everything.
You don’t have any siblings, but you're pretty sure that this is what it feels like to have a whole crowd of them. Mom left you in charge of yourself, your weird family and your wolf baby.
The behind the scenes of this movie is going to be really strange, and there’s like a million bloopers of them just dicking around already.
At least you have a blaster now.
Kaylee brings her favourite work friends to see the set, and they practically shit their pants when you say that they can be extras. They’ll be on screen for less than a few seconds, if even, but it doesn’t seem to bother them.
They get photographs and autographs and one of them elbows Kaylee hard every time Simon so much as glances vaguely in her direction.
Inara and Mal snipe at each other, constantly, and it’s like watching a ten-year-old pulling on his crush’s pigtails. There’s a betting pool, and an unnamed party has ten dollars on “when hell freezes over” but the smart money is on the premiere, where everyone is planning to get blackout drunk incase the movie turns out to be awful.
A lot of things can happen when you’re blackout drunk.
You aren’t supposed to talk about it, but maybe Mal’ll marry Inara next time he gets that drunk. Zoe stood as his best man, and even though his first wife turned out to be straight up evil and used a pseudonym on the license, she says she’d do it again. You wonder if you should be discouraging your wife from enabling Mal’s tendency towards drunken nuptials.
It’s a problem for another day, if another day happens to be one where the object of his drunken marriage isn’t Inara, the object of his sober affections. Inara would kill you if she heard how many times you used the word object in that sentence. She’s a person, you get it.
Being the director means having people ask your opinion on everything, and they mostly value it, even if you don’t have a clue what you’re talking about half the time. It’s art, you don’t have to know.
Today you’re shooting a scene that comes somewhere in the middle of the film, and it’s going to be relying heavily on Simon’s ability to emote. It’s nice that River had faith her brother could carry a scene on his own but acting is really not the poor guy’s calling. He should stick to saving lives.
You’re doing your best, and Simon’s at least able to learn his lines, which you can’t say for Jayne but god bless him they’re both trying. This entire film deserves an A for effort. How much can you rely on a participation grade? Probably not at all in film industry, right?
Mal gives everyone a pep talk, which should probably be your job, but Mal makes you believe that you can make this film and win several minor genre specific accolades for it doing it too. You have this in the bag.
Everyone is rallying, Mal managed not to insult anyone, Simon looks like he might actually fake some emotions convincingly and Jayne yells that he “applied the motherfucking cortical electrodes” and you smile at your wife and everything is falling into place with this movie that you can’t even call godforsaken on account of the preacher you got on board.
Then the lawyer shows up with the cease and desist notice and it all goes straight back to falling apart.
You want to do something dramatic, like set it on fire to show that you don’t care about the law, but instead you wave your hand for them to continue shooting without you and put on your reading glasses so you can have a closer look at what exactly it is you need to cease and desist.
So, before you were pretty sure you didn’t have permission to be making this film, but now you’re really extra sure you don’t so you let Mal start directing this scene and signal Zoe to come over for a private conversation.
You think you should probably just cut and run, say to hell with the film and go hang out in Tahiti for six to eight years until it all blows over. Zoe is not tempted by your generous offer, instead calling up the family lawyer to go over what exactly it you have to stop.
The family lawyer says that he specializes in family law for a reason, then refers them to another lawyer. Actually he refers them to her secretary, who seems like a lovely woman who the office would not function nearly so well without. She promises to pass the message on to the lawyer.
Zoe calls Josh then, who insists it’s nothing to do with him, the studio must’ve found out. You aren’t sure that the studio should be the ones holding the copyright, and Josh agrees. But he’s not sure. He can’t seem to remember whether or not he signed away the copyright to his creation.
You start to think he was really exaggerating when he called the series his baby, or if he wasn’t, maybe you should call Social Services. He promises to dig out the contract from his films, but that’ll take a while, because he keeps them in a storage unit. He tells you to keep going, he’s really confident that he didn’t sign away his copyright.
You shrug and go back to shooting, because there’s nothing you can do, unless you want to cease and desist, and as much as you hear that Tahiti is nice this time of year (might be nice for six to eight years), you really don’t want to stop making this movie. Even if Alan did die prematurely and unjustly without shooting a blaster even once.
You pat your hip holster, because if all else goes down the crapper, they will have to pry the blaster from your cold dead hands because you have every intention of being buried with it when you do kick the bucket. Emma can have your autographed photograph of Buzz Aldrin, but you’re keeping this goddamn blaster if it kills you.
And if it kills you, you’ll be buried with it, as previously discussed.
In the interim, Mal has coached Simon into emoting enough to carry the scene, and Jayne only fucked up his lines a little, not enough to ruin the take, but enough to give it a little character.
That’s good. This film needs a little character if it’s going to be successful. It also needs not to be shut down by the studio who produced 15 episodes of Flying Fires, but one problem at a time. And there’s a lot of problems cropping up all of a sudden.
You want to go home and cry, but you think that wouldn’t seem very manly.
But then again, going home that evening and eating a pint of mint chocolate chip doesn’t seem very manly either, but that’s what you end up doing. Zoe doesn’t even try stop you, grabbing a tub of vanilla to join you on the couch in solidarity.
You put on a procedural cop drama on the television, because that’s better than eating ice-cream sadly in silence, and it somehow makes you feel better to know that you at least haven’t been murdered.
You really want to make this movie. You were over the moon to be making it, stressed to high heaven, but over the moon.
You can tell that it’s the first project any of them have been really excited about in a long time. River hasn’t acted in anything in over a year, and three of your cast members have come out of retirement just to do this. You don’t think “but your honour, making this film has improved our general mood and quality of life” will work in a courtroom situation though.
You file the quip away in your memory, because on the off chance it does go to court, you are prepared to try anything to make this movie, shy of bribery, death threats and murder. River can handle those. You aren’t sure exactly what a qualm is, but she doesn’t have any.
As a group, qualms are pretty thin on the ground.
Josh calls halfway through filming, and you have to yell cut to answer, which jars everyone out of character in the worst way, but this is important. You wouldn’t have had your phone on otherwise.
And because it’s important, you shove your phone at your wife and tell her to answer it while you huddle around her with everyone else, straining to hear every word because Zoe hates talking on loudspeaker and dammit if she’s going to make this easy for everyone.
It’s hard to make out over everyone’s baited breath, but it sounds an awful lot like Josh Wheton did, in fact, sign away the copyright.
Some of you sink to the floor, because this is what’s known in the business as a Huge Setback, but River steals the phone and starts babbling too quickly to be coherent. River’s smarter than than MENSA’s AGM though, so even if you don’t understand what the fuck she’s saying, you think it might make sense to someone out there.
Zoe wrestles it back from her, and River scowls. Simon gently lures her away, distracting her with his phone. You don’t think that’ll work in a million years, but she snatches it from him and turns it on, typing rapidly. Simon shrugs at you, and you send a PA to make a copy of the cease and desist and drop it off with that secretary you were referred to the other day.
“I want one,” River insists, not looking up.
You nod at the PA, because it’s easier than arguing and you can’t think of a reason she shouldn’t have a copy if she wants one, and sigh heavily. Then you sigh again for good measure and get back to filming. What else are you supposed to do?
Only, River won’t get off Simon’s iPhone long enough to film any of her scenes, especially when the PA gives her the copy of the cease and desist, so you have to reshuffle the shooting schedule quickly to make sure today is not a total waste of time.
Not that you can guarantee that it’s not a waste of everyone’s time and money, because this all depends on what the lawyer says, if he ever gets around to taking your case.
Your court date is set for a Thursday, and the lawyer associated with the secretary you were referred to never got back to you. Which isn’t great, but it’s not the worst thing that could happen, especially once River tells you that she passed her bar exam two years ago.
“I was bored.”
River has like a million qualifications, it turns out, dozens of hokey online certificates and a triple major and about a half dozen minors. When you ask Simon when she sleeps, he shrugs and tells you “occasionally, she doesn’t like to.” He says it like it’s a battle he lost a long time ago.
Anyway, he’ll have to get used to being bored, because you don’t even have a set time. It’s a window, and you could be here all day.
But it’s kind of interesting, listening to other people make their cases. It’s not even really a court day. It’s a day for deciding whether or not you have a real court day, or something. You aren’t sure. But you know that at the end of today you will either have to come back and sit here anxiously again or it’ll be done and dusted.
Good news is that the turnout is good. Everyone is there, looking varying degrees of respectable. It’s nice to feel like they have your back, even though Jayne could still stab it.
He probably won’t, but you can’t be sure.
Even Josh came and sat on your side, in a show of solidarity. You appreciate it right until the plaintiff produces the contract where he signed away his copyright and the judge looks at him like he’s a complete idiot. Which to be honest, in this case, he was.
You still aren’t sure about River being your legal representative, seeing as she’s been drawing on her arm all day, and run out of room - only to move to yours. Mal is on the far side, but she might make you switch if she fills in your arm. She’s drawing Concord, the spaceship from Flying Fires on your arm in impressive detail.
Mal looks a little jealous, but she’s really digging that pen in there and sure, you like the look of Concord on your arm, but you like the idea of being able to wash it off even better. If she manages to get this movie out of this rut, you’ll get her face tattooed on your chest.
The plaintiff’s lawyer makes a long, reasonable sounding argument before sitting down. He’s extremely professional, making not to look too smug or incredulous when River gets up to defend. You’re worried that the judge might hold her in contempt; Simon assures you he did everything he could to get her to wear shoes, but she threw them out the car window on the way here.
It’s a strange day that you think the universe is smiling down on you when you find yourself grateful that your defence lawyer didn’t get arrested on the way here, but today is indeed a strange day and you are wearing your luckiest boxers.
The judge must be halfway to blind, because you aren’t even sure he notices, or if he does, he doesn’t comment on it. He calls River up to make her counter-argument, and boy, is it a doozy.
You think it is.
To be honest you aren’t so much paying attention, as much as praying that no one asks you any questions, because there’s still plenty of time for you to fuck this up.
Mal’s paying rapt attention, even if he’s trying to look like he isn’t. Kaylee is surreptitiously live-tweeting the court proceedings, and Book is praying right there with you. Simon is paying attention too, but he looks mostly just proud. When Emma gets her first role as a tree in a school recital, that what your face is going to look like, probably.
It takes so long that even Mal’s attention wavers enough for you to beat him at about two dozen sly games of hangman, and you get so caught up in kicking his ass that you don’t even realise that the judge has heard all evidence and arguments until everyone stands up around you. You have to scramble to catch up, tipping your chair back so it cracks against the railing behind you..
Is he going to bang his mallet thing?
“It’s called a gavel.”
You don’t think you said anything aloud so you just stare at River for a second, suddenly afraid that your thoughts aren’t your own anymore. It’s a scary thought, and it worries you that she now knows that you are afraid of her mind powers.
She smiles at you, and you feel very unsafe.
The Judge gives his ruling- “given that ‘Concord’ is of social benefit and serving to shed light on an earlier work, and by that process, creating a new one” and that “having someone surrender their copyright in the fine print is immoral” he throws out the case, and tells them to finish making the movie.
You’re lucky that they aren’t trademarked, because the judge warns you that that’s another kettle of fish all together.
He’s a big fan apparently.
You all cheer, loud enough that the judge is forced to halfheartedly bang his gavel a few times to get you to keep it down. You want to kiss your wife, but you’re suddenly glad that she is in second row back, out of range, because it means that you not only get to see Kaylee and Simon kiss, but you bear witness to the moment when Mal goes to kiss Inara, panics and ends up planting one on Jayne instead.
It stings a little, because you were right there and he picked Jayne over you, so you can’t even imagine how Inara’s feeling.
You do kiss your wife later though, when she shows you that she managed to snap a picture of the beautiful moment.Then she reminds you to call a tattoo parlour.