Call for Duty

It was April 17th, 2018, and I was scheduled to appear for jury duty in downtown Dallas. Hoping I wouldn’t get selected, I dressed down for the part. Comfy sweat pants, a “Cowboys” hat, fitted light jacket, and tennis shoes clothed my body. While the opportunity to experience a live trial seemed thrilling, this was NOT the week! My “Pink Panther” shoot was less than twenty-four hours away, and with the room rented, actors hired, and extras scheduled, pushing back the date was no option for me. I waited and waited as the lawyers deliberated by asking all forty of the potential jurors questions until finally, their twelve were chosen. Out of the judge’s mouth, my name was pronounced first. I was directed into the courtroom where a trial would shortly commence, and immediately after beginning, the only thought that kept running laps through my mind was how could I salvage this shoot? I knew I had to act quickly, for at this point, there was no turning back.

From 2:00PM to 4:45PM, I listened to the defendant and plaintiff’s brief on the case and tried to comprehend exactly what had occurred for their disagreement to reach such a critical point. I felt a responsibility to pay full attention to the issues at hand in order to reach an unbiased, fair conclusion. By the end of that jury day, which originally began at 6:30AM, I drove back home and rushed to take care of things I still needed to do prior to filming. I contacted all my crew, went to the store to buy last minute things, and arranged all the necessary materials/schedules in hopes of adjusting to the unexpected circumstances. To my surprise, I even managed to fit an hour’s worth of exercise. My shoot time was rescheduled from 12PM to 11AM and I hoped that not only everybody would be able to make it, but that we’d be able to capture all the necessary footage in a two and half hour window. With projects like these, every detail and minute counts and sometimes, one little change can affect so much. Being a part of an actual jury was something I had not accounted for when planning out the “Pink Panther” video shoot, but alas, c’est la vie.

April 18th had arrived and man, was I nervous! I arrived early to the courtroom I had rented which happened to be in the same building (and by chance, on the same floor) and began prepping everything. I allocated all props, prepared all the outfits for the actors, and waited for my make-up artist to arrive. Once she did, we immediately began with the transformation where I turned into the “Pink Panther,” and an hour later, my cinematographer arrived and shooting started. People outside waiting for trials held in adjacent courtrooms would sneak on over and look through the door’s glass window to see what all the commotion was about. Time FLEW and before I realized it, 12:15PM had encroached upon us all. With only 30 minutes left to film before I had to make it into the juror’s waiting room, I scrambled to not only clean up the room, but also, capture some last minute shots. I thanked EVERYONE and told each individual how much I appreciated them contributing to this project and being a part of this video. With a full face of make up on, I rushed my way into the room while people looked me a crazy and took pictures of what seemed to be an unusual anomaly in what normally is such a quiet, conservative setting. I made it to the check-in counter, and I couldn’t help but smirk at the lady’s look of confusion. I was asked if I was lost, but after showing her my juror badge, proceeded into the room where I was immediately instructed to wash my face. I, low-key, wanted to leave it on so they would know that I had other things to do that day that were extremely important to me and my independent artistic career, and since they chose me, they now had to deal with it. I did, however, manage to keep my pink pants on after I washed most of my makeup off. Right before going in, the judge comes out and wants to find who the individual was that was dressed as a “rabbit.” I quickly corrected him and told him, I was a panther, and he shared that he wished I hadn’t washed the makeup off so he could have taken a picture with me. He stated that nothing like this had ever happened to him throughout his lengthy career. We laughed at the hilarity of it all and proceeded to make our way into the courtroom.

Two hours in, a witness comes to testify that allegedly was not presented during “discovery,” (lawyer lingo) and the case was then ruled as a mistrial which according to the judge, rarely happens. All twelve of the jurors were excused and were told that we’d no longer be needed. What would have been a four-day trial had just been cut down to only two. The utterly loud pink pants in such a neutral setting must have been what brought this unexpected lucky turn of events. I calmly made my way to my vehicle, and proceeded to organize all my equipment. The video had been shot, jury duty was over, and now I could breathe peacefully. I drove home trying to gather all thoughts and emotions hoping that the short time frame the video was recorded would be enough to make an epic visual. This day was full of comedy, and soon, I hope to be able to share what we capture on this crazy, unforgettable day.

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