People often times have an image of movie making that is very glamourous. They picture shiny trailers parked outside of an enormous soundstage studio or exquisite location, and usually also a well-appointed greenroom. This is not always the case. Studio shooting provides some of the comforts of home, the couches are cozy, and the hair and makeup areas are lit just like the set. Location shooting, however, has a unique set of challenges.
The location where I worked yesterday had all of them. AND we had a 6:00 AM call time, AND it was a 2 hour drive to each way for me, AND it was a 16 hour work day.
It’s fall here in the Northwest, gaining on winter. I built my first fire of the season on Monday. The building in Tacoma where we shot yesterday had no heat. This was not such a challenge mid-day when we were all on set with giant klieg lights shining through each window. The combination of huge cinematic lighting instruments (incidentally, gaffers ROCK) and lots of bodies made it almost unpleasantly warm. A kind PA woud turn a fan on us between takes, which helped a little. But once it was time for dinner, and we returned to the holding area, the only word was “bloody cold”.
And the shoot was in a beautiful historic building in the heart of downtown Tacoma, which is basically empty. If you’re in Tacoma, and you take the Pacific Avenue detour and then continue south, you’ll see it, as it’s the building on the street that’s closed that has all of the big green cranes with lights pointing in the third floor windows. The elevators worked when they wanted to, and the plumbing not at all. You heard me: NO RUNNING WATER. That means, no hand washing, no face washing, no way to wash a piece of fresh fruit, and no bathrooms. Ever picture a movie set littered with honey buckets? It was not what I expected nor something that I had ever experienced before.
Yeah. Luckily for me and some of the other ladies with delicate sensibilities, the crew made us aware of an accommodating Starbuck’s just down the way. They made me a great latte and the facilities were clean and working. If I had their address, I’d post it just for good will- maybe I’ll get it the next day I work.
Oh yeah, I’m going back.
That’s the thing I’ve learned about doing this job: it’s never what you expect, but it’s usually better when you add it all up. When you’re a day player, you get to spend a lot of time meeting and chatting with people who you may never have met otherwise. I met a beautiful young fashion designer and her totally gorgeous mom, a fellow actress with whom I have friends in common, and got to see several folks I met and befriended on my last film. All told, it was a great day- even with no bathrooms and even having woken up at 3:00 AM to be there.
And I got to play a little scene with Sean Patrick Flanery who my husband is a HUGE fan of. He is a fun but focused actor and it was great to sit beside him and react to his reacting. I can’t wait to see how that looks in the finished film. And we had a really good time, which is also important. I hope to work with him a little more next week.
Thanks to Denise Gibbs for the chance to do work on this film. Can’t wait until my next shooting day!