Thursday, July 10, 2014

Waiting on Talent

That's a phrase you never want to hear on set as an actor. It's usually not your fault.  You're typically sent to wardrobe for something or a makeup change or who know's what, but it happens and there's nothing you can do about it. And it's always said in a snarky manner like you're not in the room.

Then there are the times when you arrive as talent... and the crew is nowhere to be found.

You have certain expectations for work. I would never expect to be a lawyer and suddenly the courthouse wasn't where it was supposed to be. That's what it feels like when you arrive at location - 15 minutes early just in case- and there is no one there. It's rare that I've had this happen. In fact, it's more typical of a student film than it is on indie filmmakers who are professionals working outside the studio system. But it happened. This week in fact.
The Commute

Wednesday I drove myself an hour-plus to Puyallup for a car commercial. In Seattle time, that's very good traffic, but distance enough to be noted.  I arrived early with the hopes of getting some writing in.  I got a few pages but I kept checking the clock so much I decided to give it a rest and walk around.  Luckily everything was within blocks so the pub I was at was walking distance from the park I was told to be at.

Despite what you might imagine, it's typical for a film company to shut down an entire park or at least a section of it to control what the environment around the story looks like. This was not what I saw. I see lots of people, but no defined area for filming.  I see no grip truck, no honey wagons, no crew nothing. So I decide to post shop on a shaded bench and just wait for what might be a ghost hunt.

Guerilla Filmmaking 
A few minutes before my call time, a gentleman recognizes me from our various encounters on Facebook and through the Seattle 48 Hr Film meet ups. He's a production assistant for the day and he's the only reason I'm recognized. It's also the reason the actor playing opposite me is recognized as he heard us say hello and came to join us. Luckily he and I knew each other from another film and had already talked about us both working together that day.

The crew arrived and I realized I'd worked with this team not long ago on another commercial. They are super professional and I enjoyed working with them. A few minutes later the make-up artist was doing our hair and makeup, the crew was sectioning off a space to film and we were shooting within 30 minutes.  We wrapped, we signed on the dotted line and we were done.

On set... for an entirely different shoot
I was paid, they were paid but the rest of it was sort of on the fly. My only conclusion was that the client didn't want to pay for all the things they would need to achieve the goals they were asking for. I.E. Permits, grip truck, wardrobe, Hair/Make-up station etc. So the team did the best they could with the budget they were given.

It was just refreshing, perhaps a little ironic that what's typically referred to as waiting on talent, was really the talent waiting for the crew.

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