"Another job well done mister Washington! Your work never ceases to impress," a wiry, spectacled man directed praise to a boy in the back of the class. Nicholas Scott, though his students called him Nick, was the professor of film studies at the University of Calgary. Joshua Washington was one of his favorite students. Son of Robert Washington, well known director and producer for many popular horror films, Josh seemed to share his father's talent for film making.
The class applauded, though unenthusiastically. It was no surprise that Josh would once again produce the best short film. He'd always excelled at these projects. He had a knack for storytelling and his special effects were top notch. Many assumed his father's money bought his success. One student however was genuinely impressed with Josh's work.
Chris had taken film studies with the hope of learning more about the technical aspect of film production—the camera equipment, special effects, editing. He was interested in all of the background work that went into making a movie. Their semester project was to create a short film, and shoot it themselves. Chris had created a nature documentary following the lives of a family of caribou that lived in a small forest near him. It involved very little script writing, and he needed no actors. It was certainly nothing special, but it would suffice for a passing grade.
Josh on the other hand had went well over the top of academic expectation. He'd created a short horror film centered around a group of friends vacationing at a cabin who were terrorized by two wolfmen, their bodies transformed and disfigured by the mountain's curse. Chris was blown away by the special effects. It must've taken Josh days to digitally create them, and the scene where one of the boys transformed into a wolf monster was so well done, better than any film student had the right to create. The creature make up was extraordinary as well. Chris had no idea Josh could write, direct, edit, and do costume makeup. Surely his dad had to have helped him. There was no way one person could've done all of this by themselves, but he had to admit if anyone could, it'd be Josh. He was practically raised on this stuff.
The class quieted down as Nick began the next short film. Chris gave one more glance to the boy in the back before turning his attention to the screen. He'd always wanted to talk to Josh, ask him about his techniques and any tips he could give. He was the son of renowned film producer Bob Washington after all. But alas, Chris was too nervous and awkward to ever approach him. More than once he'd thought about taking the empty seat next to Josh, but every time he'd just walk on by right back to his seat at the front of the class. Josh was somewhat of a celebrity. Okay, technically he wasn't, but being the son of a famous film producer made you somewhat of a celebrity, at least in Chris' eyes. However, it wasn't just star struck admiration that kept him tongue tied.
Though he refused to admit it to himself, he was attracted to Josh Washington. Maybe it was his eyes he found so alluring, the way they were always bright and wide and seemed to show some hint of mischief and intelligence. And he had an easy smile, more of a lopsided grin with a quick flash of teeth. He was definitely attracted to his voice; it had an unusual cadence. It sounded thick and almost nasally, and he drawled his words sometimes. All those things aside, there was still something else that drew Chris in, like an invisible magnetism that pulled his thoughts towards the dark haired boy. It was something he couldn't explain.
He would find out though, and more. Chris was determined to learn more about his special effects, if anything. He'd decided that the next time they came to class he'd finally take the empty seat next to Josh. He spent the rest of the class period—and the days that followed—working up his courage.
Josh was already there when Chris arrived. He stood in the doorway, palms sweating. "Okay. You've got this Chris. No problem. Gonna be fine," he reassured himself. Sadly, he didn't find himself very reassuring. He stood in the door like a confused statue, wanting to move forward but unfortunately cemented in place with anxiety.
His classmates gave him the push he needed, quite literally. Chris stumbled forward, mumbling an apology about blocking the entrance. It's now or never, he thought.
"Is this seat taken?" Chris asked, hoping he didn't look as nervous as he felt. Josh looked up as if suddenly broken from a trance. He quickly glanced between the boy standing in front of him and the empty seat beside him as if just now processing what had been said.
"No, not at all," he replied, flashing a quick grin. Damnit, Chris cursed at himself as he felt his cheeks heating up. Josh shoved some books back into his bag as Chris dropped into the chair. Some of those books looked pretty old. Like, really old he noticed.
"The name's Chris," he offered when Josh caught him staring at the books.
"You're the one who did the nature documentary, right? With the caribou?" Josh asked. Chris wasn't sure if he should be flattered that he'd remembered, or embarrassed. Comparing the two short films it was obvious which fell short.
"Yea. Yea, that was me," he scratched at the back of his neck, a nervous trait of his.
"You did a good job with the cameras. Putting them high up and at an angle to extend the shot? Good idea." The unexpected praise eased his nerves, and the fact that Josh paid that much attention to his shots made butterflies flutter in his stomach.
"Well, most people put cameras at eye level, and it causes the animal to take up the entire frame, and the foliage clutters the edges. It makes for an awkward and unpleasing angle, you know? Putting the camera up higher in the trees allowed me to get more of what's going on." Josh nodded along. He seemed impressed, which was more than Chris could hope for. "So your special effects, did you do all of them yourself?"
"Why? Do you doubt me?" Josh turned towards him.
"No, it's just they were so cool man. The self-lighting candles? And the wolfman makeup. The fur looked so real! How'd you do it? It must've taken you hours to edit everything."
"Ah, so I've got a fan?" he smiled again. "You know, a lot of people here think I use my dad to help me out. What do you think?"
Chris considered for a moment. It was very possible that his dad had assisted him, but Josh didn't seem like the kind of person to cheat like that. At least, from what Chris had observed at a distance, he didn't seem like that kind of person. "Nah, I've seen your dad's movies. The way he does things, sets up shots and stuff, it's different. He'd have used wide angled shots instead of slow panning, I think. Plus the frontal object focus in frames, like with the candles, is totally not his style."
Josh raised his eyebrows in surprise. "You're the first to notice. I do all of my own work—special effects, editing, everything. Believe it or not." He leaned back in his chair, stretching his legs out in front of him.
"Dude, how'd you find the time to edit it all? You must've holed yourself up for days," Chris laughed, albeit nervously. One side of Josh's mouth lifted. Damn, it was attractive.
"You make it sound like I have no life," he laughed as well. It was a natural, almost musical sound to Chris' ears. "So you're into techy stuff?"
"Yea. Cameras, CGI, all that jazz," he looked down at his hands as he fidgeted, adjusting his glasses. "I was hoping you'd give me some tips. Tell me how you did it." Josh seemed to be considering it, tossing the thought around in his mind. Chris held his breath, feeling hopeful.
"Nope. Sorry, family secret," Josh decided. Chris visibly deflated. So much for that plan. He stumbled over words, not sure what to say or how to continue the conversation. Before he could embarrass himself further, Josh continued. "I mean, I could tell you, but it's a very complicated approval process. There's a lot of paperwork, interviews, background checks. Can't just share this kind of thing with just anyone."
Chris wasn't sure how to reply. He just kind of stared at Josh, eyebrows arched, and his mouth working but no words came out. Before he could come up with some witty response, and really that moment had already passed, Nick walked into the classroom and began his lesson.
He tried to focus on the professor and what he was teaching, but Chris' mind was racing. He fought the smile that threatened to plaster itself to his face. He'd actually managed to talk to Josh Washington, and not only that but Josh had talked back. Perhaps it was overzealous thinking, but maybe this was the start of a beautiful friendship. It was definitely overzealous thinking, but maybe it could be the start to something more.
When class ended Chris shoved his things into his bag, wondering whether or not he should say goodbye or if he should even sit here again. Something touched his shoulder. "Hey." He turned to see Josh holding a small slip of torn paper between his fingers. "Your interview's tomorrow."
"What?" Chris was confused.
"Very complicated approval process, remember?" The blank stare he received from Chris was a sufficient answer. "Tomorrow. I'll meet you at the bar downtown. The one with the red roof. Know what I'm talking about? Good. Drinks are on me," He rose from his chair, holding out the small paper slip to Chris. Their hands brushed in the exchange and it was like a current of energy passed between them. Woah, Chris thought. He still felt a tingling in his fingertips. A cell phone number was scribbled down in black ink next to Josh's name. He gave me his number.
"So, you'll tell me?" Chris asked. Josh had already slung his bag over his shoulder. He looked down at Chris with amusement.
"Maybe," he said as he turned around and began to head for the door. Chris scrambled to catch up, messily shoving things into his bag and almost toppling over a chair as he hurried. He gripped Josh's number tight in his hands, lest he somehow accidentally lose it.
"At least tell me what program you use?" Chris called out, hoping to learn something from this encounter.
Josh didn't stop walking. He glanced over his shoulder at Chris, giving him a curious look. The corners of his mouth raised in that lopsided way and Chris caught a glimpse of his smile. "What if I don't use any programs?"
Chris laughed. "You're joking, right? C'mon man. Just tell me."
Josh shrugged, taking a left at the building's entrance, where Chris would need to take a right for his next class. Their paths finally separated and it looked like he'd get no answer. Not until tomorrow at least. Chris was about to turn away when he saw the other boy pause.
"Maybe it's magic," Josh smiled, walking backwards a few steps before turning on his heel and continuing on his way. Chris was left standing there to ponder his response. Surely it was just a joke, but something about the way he'd said that last word sent a shiver through him. Chris shook his head, before moving on. Magic. Yea right.