by Eric J Baker
My career as a child actor reached its pinnacle in 1979 when I was cast as the lead in a now-lost alien invasion film. The role of “random kid with bad 70’s hair” did not have dialog, but I was totally in character as a dazed preteen with no bleeding idea what was happening around him (I put a lot of method-style research into it). The fact that my dad was the director had nothing to do with me landing the part.
I could write a book about the weirdness of my father, but no one can deny his creativity. During the course of the week-long shoot, he ran around with his 8mm camera, tripod, and a single flood light filming cloudbursts and street lamps and telling me to run down this hallway and crawl through that passageway. One night we were in an unused conference room at the local YMCA. I recall him placing a toy spaceship atop a black candleholder, using the beam from a slide projector to illuminate the ship, setting the camera about 25 feet away, and turning off the overhead lights. As that noisy little 8mm whirred in the dark, I wondered what the hell Dad was doing.