I think I've been mostly supplying you all with pictures recently, but concrete walls couldn't stop these words from pouring out of the dam of my mind today so here's a real blog post for you. I have also decided to leave this post picture-free to let the words spin up their own pictures in your minds. And do forgive the rather unimaginative post title, I just didn't really feel like thinking up something fancy so I just stuck what this is about down. Anyway, enough of this introduction so you can start with the real thing.
So I have now officially earned bragging rights to having spent time on a real film set. Which I guess wouldn’t be that surprising, seeing how I would be on one sooner or later, but this was my first real experience and I would say that it was pretty cool.
A third year student had been asking around if anyone would like to be an assistant on the project he and his group were shooting for their final year. As for me, I had realised a while ago how truly important experience is, and I figured that this would be a good chance for that, so I sent him a message asking for more details as I needed to split my time up wisely to complete an editing assignment I have to work on as well. He replied, thanking me first for getting in touch, then letting me in on what might be asked to do. I thought it was interesting, so after finding a way to arrange the stuff I had to get done, I got back to him, promising him that I would be there for two days.
From what experience I had which I had gotten in class about some equipment, as well as from watching behind the scene takes of big movies, I guess it was almost what I had imagined (although I wasn't sure how much scaled down this would be). However, in addition to the equipment that they used, they did go about really professionally. It’s probably because I’m still considered rather new to this, but when they said stuff like, ‘camera rolling’, ‘camera set’, ‘action!’ and even used a clapperboard, I just fell for everything (don't we all sucker up to the things we love) and felt like it was the most awesome thing in the world. In a way, everything was like you see on tv, mostly those I remember from behind the scene takes, and naturally, they even had the right accent.
I personally don’t think that I actually assisted with the equipment that much -I did help setting up the lights, tripods, moving the dolly tracks and all- but it seems like I ended up being extras more than I had even imagined I would! (I apologise for all the film jargon being used. I guess I’m still a little excited, and I remember thinking how amazing it was that they knew all the rights words for the right things on set.) I can’t be entirely sure for now whether it was just them, but they made the whole thing seem pretty fun. I realised that they hardly took themselves seriously, but they very definitely took their work seriously. They were just such a fun bunch of people, singing (even almost yelling-sort sometimes) on set whenever the cameras wasn’t rolling yet. They cracked jokes and teased each other. If I had ever dreamt about how a set I would be on was like, this atmosphere was probably it. It was brilliant.
One of the best things about filming (or any kind of art I guess, really) is the places that it takes you. You get to do crazy stuff which would probably be deemed unacceptable on normal days. Just last Sunday when my friend and I went for a fun photoshoot, she agreed to climb a tree for me, stand between bushes of a bamboo bush, lie straight on a wall and curl up on the soft ground just in front of a bush just for me to shoot (photograph) her. I also stuck tiny wild daisies in her shoe for they did make a pretty picture! We greeted and were greeted by friendly strangers, and a hippie guy even came up to us while playing his ukulele. That was one of the strangest parts of that day. My friend and I stood there grinning stupidly at him, his own mouth was also curled up while his lips held on to a cigarette. After we left, my friend told me, ‘That was so random!’
Helping out on this set brought me into the men’s bathroom. Squeezed in with the main lights turned off and a couple of set lights on stands, their wires curling about the floor threatening to trip you up, I helped to announce the scene and take before proceeding to clap the clapperboard. The camera was then stuck into the sink and I had to thread carefully to make my way to a corner so that I wouldn’t be in the shot when they filmed. One of the guys sat on a closed toilet bowl seat with a file on his thighs. Very professional.
Apart from the latest craze song, ‘Call Me Maybe’, they also sang this funny ‘maths song’ in slightly pitched voices. Then when one of the girls bought bacon for lunch, they sang a few lines about their made-up version of bacon song, if I’m not mistaken. The next day, they bought KFC and I sat with a girl who did the acting. She was this lovely person, who made it clear as soon as possible that she wasn’t as slutty as the character she played on screen was. The guy who had invited me overheard it and jokingly tried to convince me that she was lying. I laughed (and of course, I believe her). Also, they were all rather good-looking people, even (especially) those working behind the scenes. Which not everyone would expect? Though they’re probably like me, preferring (and even to the extend of enjoying) that.
For two days, I was there for eight hours straight. Those scenes were set in a bar, so we stayed in a darkened bar with only colourful disco lights for company, apart from the set lights, even though when it might have been sunny outside. We were working most of the time, and there was once when someone mentioned that they were getting hungry after three or four hours of shooting, to which another said, ‘Don’t mentioned the f-word!’ and another promptly answered on purpose, ‘Fooood!’
Well, I guess that these are just some of the things I remember right now. I also learnt, if I hadn’t realised so much, that filming is indeed quite hard work, even without mentioning all the planning they did beforehand and the editing they would have to work on later. It also takes a lot of patience, and I could feel the impatience in me bubbling when some scenes had to be taken and retaken and retaken yet again even though it hardly concerned me directly. Just the way the actors had to say their lines over and over again, or even doing the same thing like swinging the guitar strap over their neck repeatedly set off some kind of pet peeve in me. But I learn to accept it though, it was just something that came as part of the package of filming.
This whole thing probably seems rather alluring to the average person, the whole making movies and all thing. Not many actually realise that it takes a lot of work, and to those who do, it would seem like what it is, work. However, to those who work with their heart and fuel it with passion, it could feel less like a job and more like something which produces satisfaction. And I guess it’s like they say, if you’re doing something that you love, you’ll never have to work a day in your life.
I am so thankful that I’ll never have to get a ‘real job’ because I would like to take everything on as joy and allow the work to get done for me, never expecting to gain more than satisfaction.