Checkin’ The Gaaaaaate!

So last week I worked two days on a lovely little film called Dear Lemon Lima (pronounced ‘lye-mah’ like the bean, not ‘lee-mah’ like the city in Peru). Today was my third day working on this picture and I am pleased to say that I have at least two more days work ahead of me before production wraps.

I play a member of the Board of Directors of the Nichols School (fictional prep school where the film takes place). It’s a silent part; really I’m a barely glorified extra, but it’s been a marvelous few days.

The whole shoot has been an amazing experience. Director Suzi Yoonessi has her creativity splayed across her face most of the time and it’s amazing to watch Keith and Tony (1st and 2nd AD’s respectively) translate whatever she’s thinking into a reality on set and then to witness as Sarah (DP) takes that reality and manages to compose the shot that Suzi will need to cut into the finished film.

And the principal cast is so talented and so easy to work with that I feel like I’m at a party and yet learning something at every turn. Beth Grant has been a particular joy to work with. She’s been super friendly and an amazing professional to observe at work. Coming from a theatre background and moving toward TV and film (and with a web series on the horizon), she is a great example for me to watch.

And the young cast, featuring Meaghan Jette Martin and Vanessa Marano as well as newcomer Savanah Wiltfong have made even the most tedious parts of the shoot more fun than work.

All that to say: if you ever get the chance to b a film extra… do it. You get to meet cool people, watch incredible professionals at work, and they feed you.

Oh- and as for the post title…. ‘Checking the gate’ is a function performed by the assistant DP (TJ, he’s a hoot with a green laser pointer) before calling a series of takes good to get the shot they were tryig to get. This involves opening up the camera at its lens end and looking physically through the lens toward the guts of the camera (the film gate is a piece of hardware that keeps film in the right position to be shot upon correctly and in frame at 24 frames per second). If the ADP/ AD calls out “good gate” we’re free to move on to the next shot. So, the gate check has become something to celebrate- particularly when the end of the shooting day is drawing near. So Meaghan has begun singing “checkin’ the gaaaaaate!” whenever a gate check is called for. Today she was joined by a chorus of 110+ extras.

It was a real party. I can’t wait ’til tomorrow.

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