Preston was initially a bookish assistant to Denham who expressed immense concern for the rules and Carl's breaking them, while still harboring immense respect for the man and his place in Preston's journey to becoming a filmmaker himself. However, while on Skull Island Preston begins to see Denham in new light and slowly loses more and more respect for the man as the journey continues, criticizing his obsession with making money from the voyage and not caring about the lives lost in the process. Preston finally defies Denham by lowering a drawbridge to let Jack Driscoll and Ann Darrow across a chasm by seizing a machete against the director's orders and cutting the rope, an act that left his face scarred, but his conscience clean.
Preston waited outside the screening room where his boss Carl Denham was appealing to his producers for more money. However, when Denham learned they intended to scrap his film entirely, he gathered Preston and the film cans and tried had Preston make arrangements for their ship to leave immediately, with Preston listing all the reasons why it was improper, unethical, and even impossible for them to do it before reminding Denham that Maureen McKenzie, their lead actress had pulled out. Denham then sent Preston to pressure Jack Driscoll into finishing his screenplay while he went to find a new actress. That night at the Venture, Preston informed Carl that the studio had called the police to arrest them and that they had limited time to escape. On Denham's cue, Preston showed their new actress Ann Darrow to her quarters before being forced to carry actor Bruce Baxter's extensive luggage to his room. At breakfast the next morning, Preston noticed that Ann was wearing one of Maureen's costumes, to her embarrassment. After a day of filming on deck with Carl, they two conversed in the galley when Benjamin Hayes, Jimmy, and Lumpy came to warn them about the dangers of going to Skull Island. Preston heeded their warnings, and was kept awake at night thinking of how Denham's map matched the description given to the sailors by a castaway. However, he was roused from sleep one night by the foghorn, and he came to the deck to investigate before the ship scuttled on a gigantic carving. In the morning, Denham took him and the rest of the crew ashore to film, but they were instead attacked by the natives due mostly to Carl's attempts to befriend them which cost two lives, including that of Mike the sound recordist. While Preston survived the encounter, he was traumatized by what he had seen while Carl took to drinking as he proclaimed that they would finish the film in Mike's name. However, when Darrow was kidnapped by native islanders, Preston and the others went ashore to rescue her, and was one of the men who entered the jungle to take her back from Kong. A short distance in, the sailors spooked a Ferrucutus, which nearly trampled Preston, who was pinned beneath it. Driscoll helped him up, and after Hayes killed the dinosaur the group continued into the jungle. While resting in a narrow valley, Preston stayed with the sailors as Carl and the rest of the film crew went to get some shots of the valley. However, the entire group was soon set upon by a stampede of Brontosaurus. After managing to survive, Preston attempted to console Denham and informing him that Herb's death in the stampede hadn't been his fault, and Denham agreed. The party then rafted across a swamp, and when their raft is destroyed by a Piranhadon, Preston tried to get Jack to his log, but the writer sank under the weight of his ammunition. Jack managed to survive, and when the monster retreated Preston managed to wade to shore with the still-dry camera. Denham immediately took it from him. The group continued on, and were thrown into a deep pit by Kong. What Preston did in the pit is unknown, but he was one of only four survivors when Englehorn and Baxter came to rescue them. They waited in the village for Jack and Ann to return, but Carl had the bridge raised as part of his scheme to capture Kong. When Preston heard his friends screaming from beyond the wall, he urged Carl to lower it, and when the director refused, Preston wrestled a machete from a sailor and cut the rope holding the bridge up, causing it to snap back and slash open his cheek.
Denham was able to capture Kong, but on opening night, Preston simply stood on a balcony watching disapprovingly of his employer's antics as he welcomed the mayor and his producers with a smile. On seeing Jack in the aisle, he approached him and they agreed on the poor taste of the performance. However, Ann had refused to partake no matter how much Denham offered her, which made Kong get angry. He and Jack then began trying to get people out of the theater before Kong broke free.
One year before the events of the 2005 film, Denham had the Venture off Baffin Island in search of a mythical orca named Killer. The choppy waters of the North Atlantic made Preston feel incredibly ill, but Denham took no breaks and revealed that they were to go inland in search of eskimo. Preston recalled an earlier encounter in Guatemala, where they had only escaped with their heads on their shoulders because they had guns. Carl scoffed, as he considered eskimo to be welcoming of visitors, and they went ashore. Preston noted to Denham that their actor, Bill Tyler, looked quite ill, but again, Denham snubbed Preston's concerns. On the island, Preston followed Denham and their cameraman, Herb Preston, up a hill, where Carl found a herd of sea lions. Preston was apprehensive about sending someone across the herd, but Denham, as usual, paid him no mind. First mate Benjamin Hayes then came and revealed the danger in their plan, but it was too late. They got Herb to a hospital in Halifax, Nova Scotia before returning to New York when he recovered.
While sailing with Carl Denham to make a movie in the Indian Ocean, Preston was the first to notice that actress Ann Darrow had worn a movie costume to breakfast shortly before she mistook the sound recordist for Jack Driscoll she left in embarrassment, Preston followed to comfort her and to assure her that the writer would come around.
Preston waited outside while his employer Carl Denham showed his film to investors, a film for which Preston had manned the clapper board. However, when Carl came out, he took Preston's water glass and used it to listen to the conversation being had by the investors in the other room, and quickly made Preston pack up their film cans and leave. Struggling under the bulk, Preston got into a taxi, where they were pursued by the suits on foot. There, Preston was forced to tell Denham that their lead actress Maureen McKenzie had pulled out, which forced Denham to leave the car to find a new lead, upset with Preston that he had not lied to keep her aboard. Despite his rough treatment, Preston admired Denham's dedication to the craft. Left to make preparations, Preston pleaded to writer Jack Driscoll to deliver the finished screenplay to the ship that night. While preparing to board the Venture, Preston told Denham that the studio had called the police to apprehend them, and Preston hurried aboard to show their new lead, a former Vaudeville girl Ann Darrow to her quarters. Afterward, he did his best to sedate pampered matinee idol Bruce Baxter with hollow praise as he showed him to his room. The day filming began, Preston was sent to Denham's cabin to fetch the camera's filter box, and he reflected that he one day hoped to play a bigger role in the filmmaking process, and to one day have someone work under him to fetch filter boxes, however as he searched Denham's trunk, he came across a foreboding map, which he stuffed in his pocket as Denham came in and grabbed the filter box from its place on a shelf. On examining the map, Preston shared his findings with the sailors, and they confronted Denham in the mess hall, warning of the horrors associated with the mythic Skull Island, but Denham did not care. That night, they shared heated words as Preston tried to convince him to tell the film crew of the danger he was putting them in, but Denham refused, and cryptically claimed that one day he would make it all up to Preston. However, the ship ran into rocks as it approached the island, and Denham had Preston fetch the camera for shots of the island in the midst of the chaos. In the morning, with the crew repairing the ship, Preston accompanied Denham and the other filmmakers and a few sailors to the shore, where Preston helped with shot continuity and composition. However, after filming for a bit, Driscoll and Baxter got into an argument, and Denham instead filmed Ann, and asked her to scream, prompting something in the jungle to scream back. As they explored further, they came upon a shantytown in some ancient catacombs, where they were attacked by natives. Mike the sound man and a sailor were killed before Englehorn came to rescue them. On returning to the ship, Darrow was kidnapped and the crew, along with Preston, returned to the island where Denham got with his remaining film crew to salvage the picture by filming the creature that had taken Ann. As they went through the forest, the sailors shot at noises around them, and when Hayes lit a flare, they saw that they had killed a dinosaur. Preston was floored, and asked if they weren't supposed to be extinct, to which Lumpy replied that they were now. As the voyage continued, Denham eventually came upon a herd of Brontosaurus. Preston encouraged the director to conserve the filmstock to be able to finish Darrow's scenes, to which Carl replied that the film was no longer about her, just before they began to stampede. After narrowly surviving, Preston noted a change in Denham, who was clearly mortified by the loss of his friend Herb. However, the assistant looked to the director for guidance, reminding him that he was the one who made decisions, reigniting the fire within before proclaiming to Preston that they would finish the picture in Herb's name. While rafting across a swamp, the crew was attacked by a Piranhadon. Preston managed to stay afloat by clinging one of the logs, and was able to keep the camera dry. When Jack surfaced, he joined Preston and they paddled to shore as the monster attacked again, but was distracted by Carl's shooting. They made it to shore, and began to check the camera before moving on. When they began crossing a log over a huge crevice, the giant ape Kong destroyed it and shook the sailors off. Preston managed to hit a ledge near the top and avoid the carnage at the bottom before Englehorn and Baxter came to rescue them. Preston and the others waited for Darrow and Driscoll to return, but when they were finally approaching with Kong on their heels, Denham refused to lower the bridge. Preston finally decided that Denham was no longer making the decisions, and cut the rope to lower the bridge, but it whipped back and scarred his cheek. Preston was then forced to watch as the crew captured Kong.
Untold sleepless nights later, Preston, now sporting a scarred cheek approached the Alhambra Theater to try and gain closure for what happened on Skull Island by seeing Kong once more. He watched Carl in the lobby carelessly talking to his producers before finding Jack Driscoll and discussing Carl's uncanny ability to destroy the things he loves before the show began. The two quickly saw that something was wrong, and started to try to get people out of the theater before Kong broke free, and helped chaperone the evacuation when he finally did. When it was done, Preston disappeared into the crowd.
With his film in jeopardy, Carl Denham made Preston begin preparation to hastily depart before the studio could stop them. While on board the Venture, Preston was tasked with introducing the actors to their cabins, while maintaining the white lie that the unpleasant smell would disperse eventually. When they reached the island, Denham lead the crew into the jungle, where they spied a gigantic wall, whose purpose Preston could only guess at before being attacked by natives. Luckily Captain Englehorn and Benjamin Hayes were able to disperse them. While lightening the ship for a hasty departure, They discovered that the natives had kidnapped the actress Ann Darrow, and they sent a rescue party to the island, where the Captain gave them one day before they would be left behind. Preston then accompanied Englehorn and a second group of sailors on a mission into the jungle to extract the first crew, and they saved them from bugs in a deep chasm. The group, with the exception of Jack Driscoll, then returned to the shore, where Denham knocked Kong out with gas when he came chasing Driscoll and Darrow. Back in New York, Preston attended Kong's premiere at the Alhambra theater, and revealed to Driscoll that Ann had declined to appear before Kong broke free.
When The Venture reached Skull Island, two rowboats were deployed to reach shore. One with Carl, Hayes, Ann, Jack, and another sailor called "Briggs", the other with Preston, Lumpy, Choy, and Jimmy. The currents proved too strong, and began to pull Preston's rowboat out away from shore. Shortly after Jack and the others landed on shore, they found Preston's crew in their rowboat, still fighting the current. Hayes instructed them to land as soon as they could, assuring the rest that they'd see them again.
After the natives offered Ann as a sacrifice to Kong, Jack, Carl, and Hayes regrouped and began to pursue the giant ape. The heard Preston's screams, followed by a roar. Hayes concluded that must have been the gorilla, but Carl corrected him, "that was something else." They shortly met back up with the other crew, who were standing above them on a wooden bridge. Preston explained there's a "monster" nearby, they managed to escape, but the creature was still around. A roar was heard, and a large Vastatosaurus rex appeared from behind a stone wall. The V-Rex snatched Lumpy in its jaws, and destroyed the bridge, causing some of the sailors to plummet in the chasm below, while others were able to escape on the other side of the bridge.
Later, when Jack and company rescued Jimmy, and the four escaped the natives, Jimmy informed them that the rest of the sailors, including Preston, were dead.
Preston in King Kong: The 8th Wonder of the World
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