Recounting a day of filming

This weekend was a busy one. I spent Saturday evening setting up a fake diner for the shoot on Sunday with our teen actors . My co-teacher and I wondered around the location, searching for a small podium to use as a hostess station for about thirty minutes before we finally found the person who knew where it was. We learned we can’t fold linens with any skill, and decided light switches should all be on the wall right inside the door, not across a dark and perilous room.

To the benefit of us all.

The set was ready Sunday when the kids arrived, mostly in costume and off-script. I say mostly because with teenagers, everything is a little haphazard and mismatched, especially this close to the new school year. Right off, we had casting and costume issues, which led to me playing a street kid with two lines in one of the scenes we were scheduled to shoot.

The two actresses in the scene with me, both teens, informed me I am not thug. I was in agreement, especially when they wanted me to pop-lock (I think that’s what they called it?) and I looked like I had a wedgie instead. It was also 100 degrees outside, where we were shooting this scene in direct sunlight, and I was wearing a hoodie. This was for two reasons 1) my Doctor Who T-shirt had to be covered, 2) I am a 28 year old woman wearing make-up, not a dirty-faced a 14 year old girl.

We managed to get the scene. I never crossed the thug threshold, but that’s ok. I was hot and slightly irritable the rest of the day.

Shooting multiple scenes with quite a bit of blocking takes a while. We shot for five hours, at the end of which we still had four scenes to get and decided to come back for another day to finish.

The kids were troopers. When you’re working with professional actors, shooting is trying, the waiting around is frustrating, and the pressure to perform sets everyones nerves on edge. When you are working with untrained kids, everything feels exponentially harder. That said, they have all my respect and admiration for how they soldiered on. Filming is not glamorous. Getting usable footage is difficult and requires multiple takes, from multiple angles, and a lot of repetition.

I am excited about what we accomplished yesterday, and I know they can’t wait to see the final product.

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