INT. NIKKI’S HOUSE. DAY.
Clint stopped short as he entered the living room. There were stacks of paper on all the tables, half the floor and a couple of the armchairs. Nikki was ensconced in in the middle of the sofa, two teetering towers on either side.
“What is all this?” asked Clint, edging his way around a pile to an empty seat.
“This is Vanessa trying to prove her point that I need them. Two days ago I asked her to send over unrecorded songs the label owns the rights to. I think she sent over everything. Normally I just get things that are actually my genre but I’ve already found five hip-hops and two heavy metals.”
Clint grinned and took off his jacket, laying it over the back of his chair. “Sounds like you’re going to need some help going through them.”
“Probably. I have found this one though which is pretty good.” Nikki pushed a sheet of music across the table towards him. Clint picked it up and looked it over. “Well?” she asked.
“I have to admit reading music has never been a strong suit of mine so I can’t comment on the melody but…from the lyrics I think you could do better.”
“What’s wrong with the lyrics?”
Clint raised an eyebrow and then consulted the page again. “What is it saying? ‘Come on, come on, come on, Baby can’t we start? Come on, come on, come on, Let’s match the beat to my heart?’ What does that even mean? It says nothing. At most you could claim it’s making a point about the connection of dancing and attraction but that point was overdone by the 50’s.”
“It’s dance music. It’s meant for clubs.”
“Which is fine, it’s good to have some dance songs, but your last five singles have been the exact same thing, with the lyrics repeatedly urging people to dance. Dance music can be good, but it can say something other than ‘let’s dance’. Look at Madonna. She has great dance music, lots of clubs play her. But the ones that really stick with you are the ones that say something. ‘Papa Don’t Preach’ is about a teenage girl telling her father she’s pregnant and that she’s keeping the baby. It says something. It means something.”
“Well you pick the song you want and I’ll do it.”
“I don’t want to pick a song you don’t like. If you hate what you do, everyone one else will hate it too.”
“So I have to find a song I like, that you think says something?” Nikki looked at him skeptically. “You know I’m a pop singer. We don’t tend to say a lot.”
“And I bet nine years ago when you recorded your first song you didn’t think that. Look at all these songs. There has to be one thing here that speaks to you. And that’s what you need. You need some emotion when you’re singing and the easiest way to do that is to actually feel something about it.”
“It’s amazing how you suddenly know the best way to sing.”
Clint looked up at her expecting to see her angry but she was looking amused.
“It’s amazing,” she continued, “With all you seem to know, that you ended up as a paparazzi.”
Clint shrugged. He picked up a handful of songs and started flipping through them. Nikki however clearly wasn’t to be distracted. She put down the sheet music that was in her hand and leaned forward a little as she asked,
“How did you end up working with the paparazzi?”
Clint didn’t look up as he answered, “It just worked out that way.”
“You go into great detail about exactly what I’m doing wrong in my career, but when talking about your own all you can say is ‘it just worked out that way?’. Come on, what’s the story?”
Clint put down the music and sighed. “There’s not really a story. Things just happened, it’s fairly typical. I am in photography at least, not everyone can say they got to put their degree to use.”
“So you studied photography?”
Nikki waited a second. When he didn’t elaborate she rolled her eyes. “Oh come on. You know everything that’s happened to me since I was fifteen. It’s only fair I get to know a little bit about you.”
Clint sighed, resigned to the fact that he wasn’t going to put her off. “Alright, yes, I studied photography at college. I was interested in it since I was seven, when my grandfather gave me a camera for Christmas; we lived very far out in the country in Kentucky and there wasn’t a whole lot to do. I took pictures of everything after that; thoroughly annoying everyone.”
“That must have been good experience for the paparazzi.”
“Funny…anyways. I left Kentucky. Studied photography at Rhode Island School of Design and with complete confidence planned on being the next Ansel Adams.”
“So why weren’t you?”
“I came out to LA to work on a project,” he said, his voice almost bored. “It fell through and I ran out of money. Then I met a guy who worked as a paparazzo and he offered to teach me the ropes. I planned to do it part time for some extra cash; it ended up as my career. And I actually haven’t taken a picture in five years that wasn’t celebrity related,” he added with a shrug.
“Do you ever wish you hadn’t joined the paparazzi?”
“Why? I made the decision it wasn’t as if someone forced me into it. The business has changed since I started though, what with social media and everyone and their mother having a camera phone. When I started it was much more common to be at a distance, with the subjects having no idea they were being photographed. Now you’re five feet away, pushing and shoving, trying to snap a picture of a celebrity as they walk down the street with their three year old. Everyone wants the money shot and everyone’s willing to do whatever it takes to get it. It doesn’t always bring the best out in people. And I admit there have been times it’s brought out the worst in me. I do regret those moments.”
“Do you ever consider going back to other kinds of photography?”
“No. I used to say this was only temporary, but now I admit that it’s my job. And I’m good at what I do. I’m good at making contacts. I’m good at figuring out where people will be and when. I’ve got some talent for my job. I’m not be the best in the business but I would say I’m in the top ten percent in LA, not everyone can say that about their work. Now,” he looked at her pointedly, “We’re here to help your career not mine.” He nudged a pile of music towards her. “There are an awful lot of songs here, so we should get to work; if we want to prove to Vanessa wrong.”
Nikki grinned. “That is incentive.”