Monday, September 12, 2011

Standing Room Only

My good friend Neill & I met on the set of a movie, so naturally when he asked me if I'd give him a hand on the set of his own movie, I said yes.  Neill is one of the smartest individuals I know--he designs airplane engines for a living.  I can barely figure out how to get my engine to turn over in the car and he engineers them!  In his spare time from working on Mensa-esque projects all over the globe, he wrote his own screenplay, hand tooled most of the machinery on set, fully equipped the production with cameras and lenses, wrote, scored and recorded all music, and  is calculating how to end world hunger during his commutes to & from set (or so I'm guessing).  I am always keenly aware of my grammar and pronunciation when I'm around him, because he would know if I left a participle dangling or ended a sentence with a preposition.

It is an extremely small production, just a handful of crew on any given day.  The upside of being so small is that I get to wear a lot of different hats (given my affinity for hats, I'm sorry to report that I'm speaking metaphorically) and get to learn lots of different aspects of film making.  Today I was a stand in and slater (slate girl? slate clapper?).  That might sound fancy and exciting, but the truth of the matter is, on any film set, action is slow and mundane.  The stand in part means a lot of standing.  Or sitting, depending on the scene.  I stand in one spot while the rest of the crew work on getting lighting and lenses just right.  I stink at being still.  I will spontaneously combust when forced to stand still.  I have tried my best.  Really, I have.  Last month, the camera guys thought the floor was shaking the camera, moving me out of frame.  It was really just me, doing ballet releve's.  They feel the pain all my schoolteachers felt. They just can't threaten to call my mother and give me B's in conduct.  I cannot be still.  I'm sure they would gladly replace me, but I'm even worse at working the camera than standing in (bet you didn't think that was possible).

In addition to acting as the stand in (I was standing in for a dude, which given the fact that the star of the film is a blonde, former Miss North Carolina, I come closer to looking like him than her), I also got to work the slate, which is this nifty thing:

Here, you can see that the "take" is blank.  I had apparently fallen down on the job and forgotten to write it in.

Look, it's truly so easy frogs can do it:

Maybe I need to get my act together and stand still.  Or at the very least, get the slate part right.  I might be replaced by frogs.  I bet they'd have problems sitting still too.

The Third Act Movie I promise the film will be a whole lot more interesting than my writing about standing in.  Neill wrote it and he's smart.

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