8.22.2009

16 1/2 Hour Video Shoot

It's 5:00 am on a Saturday morning and instead of being in bed like I usually am I am in my bathroom slathering liquid foundation on my face. No make up artist on set today. I'm it. I hit the road by 6 am to make my 7:30 am call time. Upon arrival I am handed scrubs. They aren't exactly flattering but I don't really care because I basically get to wear pajamas all day. After changing I am sent into the exam room where the filming will take place. At the moment I am just background. This is the easy part and it allows me to get a feel for how the set up will be.

I booked a shoot for a Dental Network's instructional video and I am going to be playing Tasha the Dental Hygienist. I was told that there was no need to memorize the lines because we'd be using teleprompters, which is something I've never done before. I find out that with teleprompters you have to actually pretend that the monitor is the other actor. As you say and respond to lines you do so not towards a person but a 17" screen with words scrolling down it and we are not to ever look at the other actor in the scene. This makes me nervous but I am not overly concerned. At least not yet.

The shoot moves pretty quickly. There is little to no prep time or rehearsal from scene to scene. When my scene comes up I am caught off guard. I am handed a prop, the director is talking pretty quickly, and they are all focused on me.

I don't know what happened but suddenly I am nervous. I lose my confidence and then it's all downhill from there. I begin to perspire and my heart speeds up. I feel like I have lost my ability to even read. The director says action and I awkwardly stumble through my lines. At the end I am to show the "patient" her CEREC Onlay (still have no idea what that is exactly) and when I lean in to do so it is stiff and awkward. The director tells me as much and gives me some corrections. On top of the trouble I am already having now I am told that I need to memorize the lines and play towards the actor now. I couldn't even read them and now I am supposed to have them memorized?

My nerves have taken over and I feel a if the connection between my brain and my body has been completely severed. All I know is that I am in here screwing up and there is a room full of various people including the client, crew, and other cast members watching this on a the big monitor set up in the main room. Oh yeah, and this is HD. Every flaw is going go be magnified by 10 million. In my mind I am saying, "What made me think I could do this?, Omg,omg,omg. What is wrong with me?" Only three lines and I am already panicking. Somehow I make it through the scene and walk out feeling like the biggest idiot on set. I have visions of totally blowing the rest of my scenes and getting fired from my agency for being such a looser and the director yelling at me for ruining the whole shoot.

And so the day goes. Mostly I am background and I continue the day with this cold fear in the pit of my stomach. I sit around with the other actors chatting. I mention that I don't do this all that often anymore. "Why?," they ask. "Uh, because I have an actual job I reply." They order in Mexican for lunch. More sitting around pretending like I actually know what I am doing. We have a location change around 6. There is more shooting. More sitting around. I watch the other actors get through their scenes dreading that all of mine are still to come. They take Starbucks orders. Then, dinner arrives from California Pizza Kitchen.

So, I'm finally up. I try to relax and I tell myself that I am a pro and I CAN do this. This is what I've been hired to do and I've never had a problem with lines on any job I've ever done. We stand in as they light and set the scene. We rehearse it a couple times and they change some dialogue.

And then, the director says "camera rolling...action."

I deliver my lines to the monitor perfectly. No hesitation, no problem. I got this! Why was I so worried before? I feel great now and have no problems with the rest of the shoot. At one point I am to smile warmly and greet a backpack on the floor as if it were the patient sitting in the chair and even that doesn't phase me. On camera it will actually look like I am talking to the patient but at the moment it looks quite silly. Each take is done from a distance, then close ups of each actor. So, there are three different angles and with each angle we do it as many times as it takes until the director is satisfied that it's good. There is no going home for anyone until all the shots are done however long it takes. By the time we finish it is midnight. I don't get home until 1:30 am and I am in bed around 2:00 pm. It's late enough that I can call my honey to say goodnight. It's really nice to get to hear his voice before I go to bed.

As I drift off to sleep I am exhausted but happy. I have never had a longer day then this. All told I was up for about 22 hours. That's rough for a wimp like me. A freaking 16 1/2 hour shoot is insane!! It was a marathon of a day but I am so glad to have overcome my jitters. It was great to be making some extra money and doing what I enjoy doing.

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