Sunday, December 10, 2006

The 'Magic' of Student Films

This summer, at the urging of my agent for more on-set experience, I auditioned for the lead in a student film. After two call-backs, I was cast as "Clara" a quirky, yet loving waitress who comes between two men. Original? Absolutely. I was feeling uninspired going into the project, but the director seemed focused on setting the bar high. He cited Krzysztof Kieslowski's "Blue" and Michel Gondry's "Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind" as inspirations for this film. Sounds good? Sure does. And it was, until I found out that we were shooting the majority of the "bar scenes" at a derelique strip club. Oh yes.

Nevertheless, I trucked on and showed up at 6am each day for the duration of the 5-day shoot. I cannot express the wealth of knowledge I accumulated from being a part of such a well-run movie making machine. I will not even try to explain my personal transformation. Perhaps I could quote an old Mariah Carey song instead… “spread your wings and prepare to fly, for you have become a butterfly, oh fly...” Oh sorry, that’s a bit too much. What I will do instead, is let you in on some of the magical movie moments which transpired. You see, in an effort to preserve the 'magic', I transcribed (word for word) some of the on-set conversations I witnessed. And now, because of the miracle of the blog, the magic shall pass to you.
Day One:

Fat ‘actor’ guy: You know what would suck… (pause - deep in thought) you’re walking on the beach and you find a HUGE chest of gold

Surfer ‘prop’ guy: Yah, totally.

Fat guy: I mean how would you carry it? Gold is SUPER heavy –

Surfer guy: Yah, totally, like a bar of gold is so errrg (makes a zombie motion with arms).

Fat guy: -- yah just like a camera case full of it would, like, wrench my arm. I think I’d just find a way, I dunno, (pause) I’d find a way (pause) to like strap it to myself—

Surfer guy: Huh huh, yah, like stuff it in my clothes until I couldn’t fit any more – I’d be like whoa whoa (motions with arms)

Fat guy: I wonder what a good cover story would be (dead serious)

Surfer guy: Yeah, I dunno (pause). You could say it was fake gold, like for a movie or something, or maybe pretend you’re working on a movie –

Fat guy: -- yeah that’s a plan (hand motion “guns”) but wouldn’t they notice that you had all this gold strapped to your body

Surfer guy: Oh yeah… (pause). Sucks.
Day Two:

Boom girl: I’m so sleepy I could just…. ahh the sun is so nice… nice.. sleepy.. oh! I totally had to most weirdest creepiest dream. It was you, me, Jessie, Sam, Susan, Carrie, and Dave and we were all in a closet, but because we were fighting a war, you know, with the outside world, or something, we couldn’t get out and Dave was super pale, like dying or something, and you were off somewhere --

Surfer guy: Oh cool!

Fat guy: That’s so freaky.

Boom girl: -- and then you and me had to babysit for these kids, like twenty of them and most of them were Siamese twins –

Surfer guy: Weird!!

Boom girl: I know!!

Fat guy: That’s SO freaky

Boom girl: --and dave was so pale, I was sure he was dead or something --

Surfer guy: A ZOMBIE… errrgg… (mimics a zombie)

Boom girl: -- so then we –

Surfer guy: I can, like control my dreams. It’s almost like I’m awake. But I heard somewhere that even if you can control you’re dreams you shouldn’t, cuz it’s like bad for you (pause) your health.

Boom girl: -- oh totally, so the Siamese twins had a really big head … uh heads –

Surfer guy: -- when I was 15, I use to sit in school with my eyes WIDE open, like this (pulls open his squinty eyes) but I’d be dreaming about all kinds of things.
Day Three:

The crew, bored with making the movie on this hot, summer day, has started a “hacky sack” game. Only their hacky sack is a ball made out of electrical tape and their hacky sacking is actually just throwing the ball to each other. They seem amused by this. This scene takes us to the first throw of this thrilling game.

Surfer guy: HORSE! (throws tape at boom girl – still holding boom)

Boom girl: what?

Surfer guy: oh sorry, I’m from the States.

Boom girl: oh yeah. Here we call it “SHUCK”.
Day Four:

The AD is the hugest dork I have ever seen. Stringy hair tied back in a haphazard ponytail with a full ugly patchy beard. Here’s the clincher, he’s wearing a Walmart special Superman shirt. It is so big and ill-fitted. His skinny, clammy body just hangs inside it like a hammock. Besides being the first AD (read: PA) he is also the “On-set Safety Supervisor”. Each day before shooting, he takes a moment to review some important on-set safety issues.

Superman: Hey, Hi! Hey! (awkward silence). So now that we’ve got everyone here, actors, extras and crew (pause) well we are still waiting on a few anyway (frustrated pause). Before we begin today I’d like to go through some important safety notices which are really important when we’re all on set like this. First, does everyone have a water bottle? (holds up Exhibit A water bottle) Well, everyone should get one from –

Craft service girl: -- Hey, hey! (waves arms to grab attention) We have NO water bottles left. NONE (yelling) Yesterday (glare) those of you who were on set (glare) (20+ people in 30 degree heat for 9 hours) took all the bottles we had for the entire shoot (12 small bottles). I am very disappointed in you. So now you’ll all have to use paper cups and drink tap water, because that’s what you get!

Superman: (nervous laugh) Ahem, well dehydration is an issue, so maybe those of you without a water bottle should make a trip to the corner store.

Surfer guy: Yah there’s a Starbucks, so you can get some coffee

Boom girl: Oh yeah, I love coffee. Weeee! Caffine! Caffine! (she can’t really control the volume of her voice)

Superman: Bad idea! (shut down) (pause) (nervous giggle) Coffee is REALLY bad for dehydration, I mean coffee is about the opposite of water.
Day Five:

I’ve just walked into the derelique strip club we are filming in. It’s early and I’m tired. I walk in and put my bag down. Suddenly I notice a small Asian girl with very large glasses, dressed in baggy white sweatpant suit with brand new tennis shoes, standing right in front of me.

Extra girl: Hi!

Me: Hey (avoid avoid)

Extra girl: Hi, I’m Sonny. I’m in Class 101 (reaches forward to shake my hand)

Me: Hey. (avoid eye contact)

Extra girl: Who are you?

Me: I’m Lisa – I’m playing Clara in the production.

Extra girl: I’m just Sonny. (dead serious)


San Nakji said...

It's all good experience right?

Lisa Bettany said...


Vicky Todd said...

Welcome, my friend.

(pause for dramatic effect)


Heather said...

Perfect. Another one bites the dust.
Welcome to our world.

Lisa Bettany said...

Thank you for blessing my blog oh holy ones.

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