STATUS: In production. The great majority of the characters on the phone have been voiced over, hence the production is about half done. Filming of the Ramon shots is expected to begin in 2021 with a goal of finishing as expeditiously as possible.
LOGLINE: An IT director who suffers injuries at work is sent home for some R&R, but things turn maniacal as he files his workman’s comp claim over the phone and his car is stolen.
IMDb: Ramon Runyen
The origination of Ramon Runyen began during a year, 2019, in which YBS producer Eric Nemoto declared that the company would not be conducting any more future movie shoots until it caught up and “finished” a number of the many films that it had in post-production. This was understandable given that at the start of the year, no less than six movies – So Close Shig, World Buffet, Before The After, The Landline Detective, Closing Costs, and The Curse Of Witness Protection – were still not completed. But of these, three would come to be completely finished before Ramon would eventually hit principle photography. Closing Costs premiered on July 25th, the refurbished (for sound) version of Before The After was distributed online on September 27th, and World Buffet premiered on November 2nd. And so during these developments, Eric wrote Ramon Runyen, on the premise that a late-in-the-year shoot could be done to film yet another feature. The need to film a feature was also related to giving Mark J. Bush (see inset photo) – who did wonders in doing the sound design and music for Closing Costs and Before The After – an opportunity to star. Mark, who was also tasked with completing The Landline Detective, had declared that he thought that movie was the best of all. Seeing Mark’s appreciation for the ‘single actor on camera’ concept and knowing that Landline had worked great, Eric posed the question to Mark that if he (Eric) were to write another movie with a single on-screen character role, would he (Mark) agree to both star in it and then subsequently edit it? Mark responded that he was all for it. Hence, Eric began writing on July 21, 2019 and finished the script on July 31, 2019 (i.e. in 10 days). The result was a hilarious odyssey wherein one man, laid up at home due to a work injury, must file his workman’s compensation claim and subsequently deals with a variety of odd-ball characters over his cell phone who come to drive him crazy on a day when he otherwise was supposed to get some much needed rest. Determined to get a production in before the end of 2019, YBS shooting actually began on November 9th and 10th, at the residence of Mark Bush. As many as four cameras were utilized by Mark Ganialongo, with Eric Nemoto, Dann Seki, and Lizzie Laws helping to crew.
The Original Set Of Ramon – A One Room Setting For A Single On-Screen Character Movie¹
During the conceptualization of this project, Eric had already been in contact with and was collaborating with Mark Ganialongo for a number of reasons. Mark was taking over the editing for The Curse Of Witness Protection, was going to film the dark night play, Jackie Claxton – The Body Swapper, at TAG, and was going to shoot the short film, Grab which Eric would produce under Yellow Brick Studio. Hence, Ramon would be yet another project the two would collaborate on. And after working on Grab, and encountering the burdensome challenges of working with SAG-AFTRA (four of the six actors in the film were SAG), both Mark and Eric decided that everyone cast in Ramon would be non-SAG actors and that no auditions would be necessary, given Eric already knew exactly who he wanted in the roles. So in addition to Mark Bush as Ramon, Eric cast David Baquiran as Ganesh, Maseeh Ganjali as Aymil, Dennis Edward Proulx as Mr. Brinks, Michael E. Carter as Sergeant Bogerty, Laurie Tanoura as Harriett, Rebecca Lea McCarthy as Natalie, Derrick Sokolowski as Scott, Martine Aceves-Foster as Selene, Mika Thomsen as the Woman’s Voice, and Kristen Nemoto Jay as the Female Robo Voice. Eventually (see “Production Transition” to follow) it was decided that Timothy Jeffryes would take over for Mark in the role of Ramon, while Mark would then supply the voice of the Doctor in the opening titles, wherein Eric also then cast Marty Wong in the role of the Nurse. Subsequent casting by Tim and Rebecca McCarthy had them bringing in Tori Barron to play Ernesto, and Jenn Thomas to play the Ethereal Presence. Everyone cast enthusiastically accepted their roles and supplied their reads through voice recordings on their phones or through Zoom meetings.
Given scheduling conflicts that prohibited the crew from gathering again until March 2020, at which time the world as everyone knew it changed, with the onslaught of Covid-19, it was decided to postpone continuing the shoot until such time as when it would be safe to gather again. In the down time, given there were still many post-production tasks at hand, and a continuing uncertainty on when the all clear would be given, it was mutually decided by the crew to transition over the production to Tim Jeffryes and Rebecca McCarthy (see inset photos left) who were now living in Utah, with Tim taking over the role of Ramon. Tim and Rebecca had a solid performance history with YBS LegacyVision Films, having turned in bravura performances in Before The After, Closing Costs, and The Curse Of Witness Protection, among others. Rebecca, in addition, had taken over the editing chores for So Close Shig. So their commitment to excellence was known by all, and it was felt that by letting them take over the project, it would enable the rest of the crew to focus on finishing the post-production of Curse and Grab, as well getting most of its past movies uploaded to the movie distribution platform, Filmhub. To the great relief of all, Tim and Rebecca agreed to take over the project and will proceed at their own pace, shooting the entire movie in their home.
The Script Treatment
Against a dark screen we see the opening credits while also hearing the manic sounds of someone being brought into a hospital emergency ward. The frantic shouts of instruction by a Doctor and comments made by a Nurse make it clear that the patient in question has flatlined and we hear the sound of an electronic charge coming from a defibrillator.
We fade up into the sight of our hero, Ramon (pronounced “Ray-men”) Runyen, resting on a comfortable chair. He is dressed in his work clothes with his work badge – showing his name and department, “Ramon Runyen, Information Technology (IT)” – clipped to the front of his shirt, near his pocket protector that is slipped inside his shirt pocket, in which there are a number of pens. Curiously, in spite of the pocket protector, there is an obvious ink blot just below his shirt pocket, which he has no idea of it being there. Ramon is one of those seemingly irreplaceable guys we know in IT whose life revolves around their work and while he looks down on the rest of the world who have to call for his assistance, he secretly relishes this power role, for it is all he knows and all he does. He is a likeable sort of guy but who is also blunt and prone to the use of profanity. His F-Bombs are often a ubiquitous part of his vocabulary.
But on this day, Ramon doesn’t feel like he’s on top of the mountain. No, quite the contrary. He’s feeling pretty low. He’s got his right leg propped up atop a foot rest that fronts where he sits. His left foot has been encased in an ankle boot to help him heal from a badly sprained ankle and his right shoulder is in a sling for a dislocated shoulder. His forehead also sports a bandage to the side, the result of hitting his head. All of these injuries happened during an accident at work that he suffered during the early morning. To the side of the chair that Ramon sits on is a small table on which there is a lamp, a bottle of prescribed painkillers, and a water flask.
As we begin our story, Ramon is on the phone with Selene, the nurse for ICON, the company they both work for, who tells him that he needs to take the day off and get complete rest. He reluctantly agrees. Selene tells Ramon that the world won’t end if he takes a few days off. She even made it a point to contact Scott Nordegren, Ramon’s second in command, to tell him he must handle things while Ramon is out. Ramon scoffs at the thought but agrees that he’ll take it easy.
No sooner than they hang up and Ramon’s hunches are fulfilled. An incoming call from Scott Nordegren, Ramon’s dimwitted assistant director, is what he sees on his cell. As he answers the call, Scott begins his discussion by first telling Ramon who he is, a tendency that Ramon finds incredibly irritating. Ramon stops him cold and after admonishing him that he needs to break this habit, he tells Scott to hang up and call him back without first announcing who he is. Scott attempts to first tell him why he called. But Ramon won’t have any of that. He tells him to stop, hang up, and return his call immediately.
Of course Scott doesn’t call back quickly and Ramon starts to fume. But who does call Ramon is Harriet Morgan, director of ICON’s Human Resources Department. They first engage in small talk as she tells him she’s about to go on vacation to Hawaii, and then reminds Ramon that because he’ll be out for awhile that he needs to call the company’s workers’ compensation carrier, Thermaguard. She starts to give Ramon the phone number but as he doesn’t have anything to write on and his hands are hurting so much he finds it difficult to input her number into his cell directory, he asks her to text the number to him. Of course Harriet didn’t bring her cell so Ramon ends up asking her to just give it to him and he’ll commit it to memory. After they go back and forth Ramon finally believes he’s got the number locked in his head and they hang up.
Ramon repeats the numbers to himself and begins calling Thermaguard but is interrupted by Scott finally calling back. Ramon takes the call and now adds a lecture to Scott about never returning calls promptly. Scott tells him that at least he didn’t start the call by introducing himself. Ramon responds that the jury is still out on that since he, Ramon, started off their call by recognizing Scott. Ramon starts to discuss to himself that he should just do that, start every call he has with Scott by not even allowing him to introduce himself. As he does this, Scott, again as with his first call, attempts to interject, but Ramon ignores him. Eventually Scott is able to finally blurt out why he was calling in the first place, and this is that Ramon’s car has been stolen. Ramon reacts incredulously and is advised that while Scott and others in the IT department watched through the window, a very suspicious man used a wire hanger to break into his car, hot wire it, and drove away. Ramon, of course, goes ballistic. He chastises Scott as he realizes that not only did he and the rest of the staff do nothing as a thief broke into his car and made off with it, but that they also have not even called the police. He is advised, however, that the incident was reported to ICON security.
As Ramon continues to lament, Scott tells him that another member of the IT staff is coordinating the office Super Bowl pool and so Ramon needs to pay for his numbers. Ramon again chastises Scott for another irritating habit, that of not being able to properly seque into a different topic of conversation. But after another round of haranguing, Ramon reluctantly tells Scott he’ll pay for a couple of entries. As a pause ensues and Ramon inquires as to whether Scott heard him, Scott turns to another subject and Ramon rolls his eyes as despite all of his shouting, Scott still has no concept of what he told him. They end their call.
Ramon remembers that he has to call Thermaguard. He begins but because of the interruption by Scott’s call he can’t recall the entire 10 numbers. He calls Harriet back and gets her voice message. He explains that he needs the number again and asks her to call him back as soon as possible. He sighs and waits and his cell rings again. He answers it and is introduced to Ernesto Garza, ICON’s Chicano accented director of security. Ernesto not only goes about advising that Ramon’s car has been stolen, but is told that Ramon’s name is pronounced as “Raymen” and not Ramone. This leads the Spanish descended Ernesto to tell Ramon that his name really should be pronounced as Ramone. Ramon argues the point but is saved by Harriet calling him back and tells Ernesto he’ll call him back.
Ramon gets Thermaguard’s number again from Harriet. He conveys his appreciation and is about to hang up when Harriet brings up another subject. She tells him that the CEO of ICON, Thomas Brinks, had just fired Ramon’s boss, Harold Speakman, the company’s CIO. This is met by both shock and glee by Ramon, who responds that Speakman never listened to him and because of that a project that Brinks really wanted done right, wasn’t. But in addition to that news, Harriet tells Ramon that Brinks had told her that he’s tired of hiring men with amazing resumes who just don’t pan out and may be willing to hire the next head of information from within. And in relation to this, Harriet tells Ramon that she talked him up, telling Brinks that everyone knows that Ramon Runyen and his crew are always there for everybody and that until this recent injury that Ramon experienced, she couldn’t recall a single day that Ramon ever took off. Harriet tells Ramon that Brinks was so impressed that he asked her for Ramon’s number. The wheels in Ramon’s mind starts to positively turn and he gives a smile as they hang up.
Ramon calls Thermaguard and must deal with an onerous phone tree which ultimately leads to a requirement that he input his 12-digit Thermaguard number. Of course he doesn’t have it. It’s in his computer which is in his back pack which has been left in his bedroom which might just as well be on the moon since he’s going nowhere with his injuries. So he calls Harriet back and gets her voice message system again, but this time her message says she’s already on vacation. He leaves a message anyway, but listening to Harriet’s message he is advised that if he needs to contact anyone in her place, that Natalie Wakelyn, her assistant director, is the person to call. Ramon calls Natalie and gets her message system too and leaves a long message explaining his situation of needing his Thermaguard number and before he can complete it the system says his message has been recorded. Ramon shouts an expletive to himself.
Impatient to wait for any return call from anyone, Ramon decides to call Scott who is back at the IT office. Meandering through Scott’s attention deficit nature he manages to instruct Scott to retrieve a file folder labeled “Thermaguard” from a five drawer filing cabinet in his office and to call him back when he did. They hang up.
Immediately, Ramon gets another call. It is Ernesto telling Ramon he was waiting for his call. Ramon rolls his eyes and apologizes and asks where did they leave off? Ernesto tells him they were discussing the correct pronunciation of Ramon’s name. Ramon squints incredulity and tries to explain to Ernesto how it is possible that names can be pronounced differently than what they look like. He references pneumonia and how Brett Favre’s last name is spelled. But this all goes over the head of Ernesto, and he goes insofar as to suggest that Ramon is creating cultural appropriation by saying his name the way he does. Ramon mentions that he’d like to partake in this discussion but that he really needs to take care of his car. Ernesto suggests that they could talk some other time and asks if Ramon could place him number one on his list of things to do later. Ramon rolls his eyes and manages to stick a middle finger with the hand that is in a sling and then asks Ernesto if they can get back to the real purpose of their talk, his car. Ernesto agrees and after finding out that Ramon’s car is something he’s never heard of, a 1997 Geo, and that Ramon intends to inform his insurance company, Ernesto laughingly tells a chagrined Ramon that he’s been paying insurance premiums for theft for over 10 years when his car was off the Blue Book.
But in spite of this hilarious dig, Ernesto is wanting to really help Ramon. He tells Ramon that his car getting stolen is the best thing that could’ve ever happened to him. For now that he has to get a new car, he will find that he needs to dress differently, look differently, and this will cause him to act differently. He urges Ramon to take out the pocket protector. After Ernesto’s repeated calls for him to do it, Ramon obliges. Ernesto says the whole experience will transform Ramon from a working class nerd to a moving up the ladder corporate juggernaut. As much as he thinks Ernesto is ridiculous, Ramon begins to see the logic in his warped theory. But his cell phone rings again and Ramon tells Ernesto if they’re done then he needs to take another call. Ernesto says that, yes, they are done but he would like to check in from time to time on Ramon to witness his transformation if that’s okay. Ramon doesn’t really want to but before he can say no, Ernesto hangs up.
Ramon answers the next call. It is Scott, who, oblivious to Ramon’s prior instructions starts off the conversation by introducing himself. Ramon asks incredulously why it takes so long for Scott to step 30 feet away to retrieve an office folder? The question goes over Scott’s head as he asks Ramon if he’s ready for the Thermaguard number. Ramon sighs and says yes and takes the number down by writing it on the back of the pocket protector. After doing so Ramon returns to his question about why it took Scott so long to get back to him. Scott explains that just as he was about to get the folder, the CEO of the company, Thomas Brinks, entered the office and began talking to him. Scott tells Ramon that Brinks asked about him and that Scott talked Ramon up big time. Ramon is elated. Scott asks him if he did good. Ramon assures him that he did and thanks him and excuses himself to make the call to Thermaguard. Ramon shouts to the moon that lame brained Scott did an amazing thing.
Ramon calls Thermaguard and wades through its ridiculous phone tree again only to find that he is number 47 in the queue. As he waits he answers a call from Natalie who says she’s returning his call. Ramon explains that he was calling to get his Thermaguard number but he already got it from calling Scott. Natalie doesn’t appreciate this and gives Scott a lecture about Thermaguard employees, like Ramon, who can’t do things for themselves. Of course, Ramon being Ramon, he can’t help himself and meets Natalie’s passive aggressive sarcasm with open sarcasm in return. Natalie tells him that he is on her black list and good luck if he ever needs her to do anything for him and hangs up.
Another call comes in for Ramon and this time it is Sergeant Bogerty of the police department. He tells Ramon that they have located his car, or what was once his car, for it is an empty shell that has been left on the side of air conditioning road, appropriately named on account of the fact that people discard their old and broken AC units there. Ramon is astounded to learn that he is responsible for making sure that his shell of a car is removed else he will be fined $200 a day, and shouts his frustrations to Bogerty, who tells him he doesn’t care and that if he drives by the following day and still sees Ramon’s semblance of a Geo, he’ll start fining him. Ramon can’t believe his predicament and searches online on his phone to find a tow truck company. He calls “Aymil’s 24 Hour Tow Service,” and gets Aymil, a man of Middle Eastern descent. Aymil gets the details from Ramon and before Ramon can ask him what is the price for his services, is off on the call to retrieve Ramon’s car.
Ramon checks back with his call to Thermaguard and to his surprise finds that he’s number one in the queue. He holds on and soon he is connected to Ganesh, an Eastern Indian man based in Mumbai. Ganesh is an extremely courteous call agent who Ramon greatly appreciates given the day he’s having. Ramon finds that he’s a comforting soul to confide all of his problems, which began with Ramon getting injured at work by slipping and falling down two flights of stairs when he was attempting to get a hot pocket for his breakfast on the floor above him at four a.m. in the morning. But as accommodating as Ganesh is, the news he returns to Ramon is devastating. Thermaguard will not be able to approve Ramon’s workers’ compensation request given the fact that he suffered his injury while working during non-business hours. Ramon can’t believe it but is advised by Ganesh that if he obtained a written confirmation from his HR office that he was doing approved work during the time of his injury that Thermaguard will approve it.
Of course, this means Ramon has to call Natalie, who has put him on her black list. Ramon calls her nonetheless and after getting an earful of Natalie’s lecture about treating her with respect he finds that she obviously can’t certify something that wasn’t the case, as Ramon’s decision to work before the start of the work day was his own decision to make. Natalie tells Ramon that he will merely have to use his sick leave. Ramon reacts with incredulity as he realizes that he could’ve just used his sick leave, something he has never done before. So what was the big deal about filing a workers’ comp claim? Natalie tells him that this was just Harriet’s desire to take advantage of the insurance premiums that ICON pays every year. Ramon hangs up thinking Natalie isn’t the witch he thought she was.
Ramon then gets yet another call. It is Aymil telling him he has already picked up his car and transported it to a nearby junk yard. Ramon is elated at the service and surprised to find that Aymil’s fee is extremely reasonable. In the course of giving Aymil his credit card information, Ramon asks Aymil what kind of tow truck he has given his shell of a Geo had no tires on it and he presumes that a flatbed truck would obviously be the kind Aymil must have. When Ramon’s question is met with some confusion by Aymil, Ramon realizes that the car Aymil towed was not his. He beckons Aymil to go and get the car he towed back from the junk yard and Aymil tells him he is on it. No sooner than they hang up and Ramon is receiving another call from Bogerty who is back on air conditioning road asking if Ramon by any chance had already taken action on getting his car towed. Ramon fesses up. He tells Bogerty that Aymil towed the wrong car and that he’ll call him as soon as he finds out from Aymil that he’s got the car back, and hangs up.
Ramon gets another call and expects that it is Aymil. But it is Scott calling to give him his Super Bowl pool numbers. Ramon reacts with anguish as he has bigger fish to fry, yet he still takes the time to remember his numbers. Ramon then takes in another call and this time it is Aymil, who tells him that the car is now a block of compressed metal. Ramon screams bloody murder and Aymil tells him he’s sorry and that there will be no charge. Ramon increases his incredulous rage. After they hang up, Ramon dejectedly calls Bogerty back and gives him the news. Bogerty in turn tells Ramon that the car was: a) a brand new mustang; b) the pet prize of a man who was returning to his hometown with his fiancee for their wedding; c) who both had been carrying their lifetime photos in the car which were to be used as a part of their same day video which was to be shown at the reception; and d) where the ashes of the man’s recently deceased dog, encased in a pet urn, had been resting on the back seat.
Ramon hangs up believing his world has ended. The next call he answers, he believes is coming from the man whose new mustang is now a block of crushed metal. But instead, it is Thomas Brinks, who talks to Ramon about how he’s looking for a new CIO, will be promoting from within, and that everyone tells him that Ramon Runyen is the one to turn to about anything involving ICON’s IT system. Ramon can’t believe what seems to be his destiny. After such a ridiculously crappy day he is about to be anointed ICON’s new CIO! But just when he feels this incredibly bad day will end on the greatest of notes, Brinks asks Ramon what does he think of Scott Nordegren? The news tips Ramon over the edge and he begins to empty his entire bottle of painkillers into his mouth.
The screen dissolves to Ramon sitting in his chair with a moving sky filled with clouds behind him. He is no longer burdened with his injuries, is well dressed, and is clean shaven. He checks himself and realizes that he is free from pain and his emotional state is relieved of all of his frustrations. He is bound for heaven. He becomes ecstatic and being who he is, blurts out a number of expletives for his hallelujahs. But then he recoils in regret as his actions has drawn the ire of the big guy. Ramon shouts “No!”
We cut to a dark screen where the ending credits roll up. But as this happens we hear the voices of: Selene, who tells everyone present that Ramon is recovering from his overdose; Ernesto, who first recognizes that Ramon is waking up and tells him he’ll make a comeback and have the greatest life ever; Natalie, who wants to confirm with Ramon that he cursed out Brinkman which led to his dismissal; and Scott who collects Ramon’s Super Bowl pool money and a couple extra bucks from his pants pocket to buy a Mountain Dew. Ramon mumbles back to everyone a soft expletive and attempts to raise his middle finger, which Ernesto comments that everyone thinks that Ramon’s “number one” too.
¹In the photo, Dann Seki, frequent YBS/LegacyVision Film actor and who was helping out on crew, gets set to sit in the seat where Ramon was to sit for the purposes of framing the cameras.