The last couple of days have been very taxing shoots. We’ve been going very late at night every night and the fatigue has started to wear on the cast and crew. We’ve been out in the cold, and we’ve been out until 4 in the morning multiple nights in the row. As two people have brought up, there is a myth that making movies is glamorous. It can be tough arduous work and it can be really hard to stay positive and focused. we are going to have to do some reshoots today in part because by the time we were getting coverage at the end of the night last night for a scene, it was 3:30 in the morning and most of us were so fatigued that our performances were suffering. We did our best to listen and react, but the sharpness of our brains were gone and so I am not upset at all about reshooting. We have mixtures of productive and unproductive days. On sunday, we shot 13 pages. On monday we barely made it through 4. We had some obstacles in the way, but there was also a lack of preparation in various aspects that was slowing us down. There are people on set, I would like to think myself among them, who try to give their all every minute of the shoot. Unfortunately, on a low budget production like this, it’s been hard to get the focus and dedication out of everyone that we really need to succeed on this project.
We were battling bitter cold last night and it was throwing off the performances. We as actors are not guilty. It was making it very difficult for us to focus and do our job. But there are a lot of people giving a lot of support. It was hard not to be thinking about how long the shoot was going, and a couple of times early on thinking about: Shouldn’t we be going by now? Why haven’t we started yet? and beginning to anticipate another long night with dread and a little bit of resentment. As an actor, especially on these low budget productions, it can be important to forget about time. There’s always coffee and tea and food. Keep yourself fueled. Between takes, instead of talking or surfing your phone, use the opportunity to pour over the lines of the scene, check your motivations, your moment before, or simply meditate and rest your eyes and your mind. The crew is working much harder than you for the most part, always re-adjusting lights, pressing buttons, conferring about focus…so it is important that when it is time for the actors to go to work, that you are ready to give the best performance you can, and make all of their work worth-while. The actor’s side of the job is one that requires a surplus of emotional and mental focus. If I bring my most prepared, centered and relaxed self to set, that is when I am working as hard as the crew behind me. So between takes, get off your smart phone, don’t check facebook, close your eyes and meditate, because you want to keep your brain fresh for the task at hand. It’s one of the big differentials between theatre and film work. You can bang out a two hour show in theater and then wipe off your make up and go home. film requires arduous work that has to be filled by love, passion and commitment for your work.
If you are going to let your emotions show to anyone on set, let those emotions be gratefulness, humor, enjoyment and warmth. Let your frustration or bitterness be melted out of your body and breathe deeply, drink lots of fluids. There is no room for touchiness on set, although it happens frequently on any job, typically the later it gets. However, when actors let it shine through on the crew which is busting their ass, that’s when actors get bad reputations. We are very blessed to be able to do what we do as actors and have this medium to do the work that we love. But if you need everything to go your way all the time, stick to community theatre. There is no room for that in the ultra-collaborative process that is filmmaking. Everyone is working too damn hard and is too damn sleep deprived for anyone to wallow in their self pity.
It probably sounds like I’ve become incredibly bitter about the film only four or five days in, which is not the case at all. I would love to stress the fact that I am extremely excited every day to be on set making a movie in which I get a lead role. It’s not glamorous every moment, but it is always exciting and never ceases to be an extremely memorable experience. I am so glad to be working with this group of people and I wouldn’t rather be doing anything else right now. In fact, I would be extremely envious to hear anyone else I knew getting the opportunity to be doing what I am doing now, and I do not disregard that. I love the people who I am working on this project with and they are a joy to be around every day. Tonight is going to be an arduous shoot, and we will probably be going late into the night again. Luckily, everyone is well rested today, as everyone slept in, and I think we are going to have a productive, focused shoot with some excellent acting opportunities on our part. We are shooting at a hotel and I am going to come packed prepared to stay the night there, since it’s about 20 minutes away, they have wi fi, and I would love to take a really hot shower and sleep in a real bed, not an air mattress :). That’s all for now, will try to write more later. Final note: Steve Sears had the great idea that we can now have yogurt Parfait for breakfast, which is literally changing my life, I feel jazzed, well fed and ready to go!