My first film set
Saturday dawned my first ever film shoot and my first day on set. It wasn’t something to be taken lightly. Here I have jumped straight out of a regular everyday career in Australia and onto a more uncertain path in a brand new industry that I know not much about.
Filled with excitement, trepidation and a whole bunch of worries about getting in the way, I packed up the muffins and quiches I’d made for the crew’s breakfast and drove to the shoot location at 7am.
I busied myself with setting up the catering table, aka craft services. I filled the urn, brewed coffee and popped up the menu for the day. Meanwhile, as crew started to arrive, so did more equipment. Boxes and boxes. There was tech equipment for the Camera Department, Lighting Department (where you will find the gaffers), Grip Department (the guys that set stuff up and do rigging) and Sound Department (home of big furry microphones and teeny tiny radio mikes). There were props and set dressing items coming up for the Art Department props and racks of clothes for the Costume Department. It was a full blown flurry of activity as our 16 crew moved in and set up.
Our two stars, Rachael Taylor and Josh Lawson, arrived together, and after they’d been driving for a while looking for a park, one finally came available right out in front of the apartment block so I raced down two flights of stairs, out the front door and bolted across the nature strip (which was currently being watered) to stand in the space to reserve it for our cast members. As could only ever happen in the movies, when our leading lady got out of the car, the sprinklers magically switched off. So Rachael was able to step out of the car looking stunning while I stood on the footpath with wet sprinkles all over me.
I kind of milled about for a while in a nervous knot until it was time for the camera to roll. We were given instructions on where we could stand so we didn’t get in the way of the lights to cast shadows, and then quiet was called for. My eyes widened and my ears pricked up. I think I held my breath. I heard Ricky say “Roll cameras” and then “Action” and we were off. I was fascinated, watching Michele’s script come to life before me. Bits that sounded a little odd on our read throughs became natural when acted out. We did a few takes where they altered the delivery slightly, and then the same scene was shot from a different angle to provide plenty of footage for the edit.
For the second scene I watched the monitors which show what’s being captured on the cameras and that was a whole other field of ‘wow’. It blew my mind away to look at the whole scene before me, and then look at what was on the monitor. All the lighting, camera angles and close ups came together to make a stunning end product. That was super exciting. After I saw the monitor with those views, I felt so immensely proud to be part of this project and my awe of my friends’ talents swelled. Until I saw the real deal, all I could imagine was a little home camcorder video. I know it’s exceptionally silly for me to have thought that’s what it would be like, but I guess when you are presented with new and foreign concepts, you always relate it back to what you know, it’s just human nature. Now I know better. Now I know my own little videos are going to be forever pitiful.
Aside from offering snacks and drinks between scenes while gear was being set up for the next angle and putting in the lunch order for delivery, I had not much else to do. And so my boredom grew. I grew restless from having nothing to do and feeling totally useless. Sure it was fun watching the filming, but it is also watching others work while you twiddle your thumbs. That made me feel lazy. So I jumped at the chance to make some fake beers for J. Part club soda, part apple juice, part vinegar poured into an empty bottle and we had some fizzy, frothy fake beers to serve up to our cast.
After lunch I got to relieve my boredom as I had to make a trip to pick up some sound gear for the second day and that took over two hours. Whilst there was also a lot of waiting around for the equipment to be ready, I had a fabulous in-depth conversation with the receptionist. It was one of those great chats that make your day. She was awesome.
Not long after I got back from running errands it was wrap time (finish time). As much as I wanted to go home to lie down, I had to do another supermarket shop, make the breakfast again and whip up a pavlova. So after another 2 and a half hours in the kitchen I could finally go to bed for a few hours.
In a moment of utter restlessness on the Saturday I had thought “I don’t know if I’m cut out for this.” I doubted my ability to stand around and do nothing while others worked. My work ethic really kicked in and I needed to be busy, or at least doing something at 10% productivity to keep me from idleness. However Sunday dawned a completely different day. I was so much more comfortable on set, I knew what to expect, I knew the crew and kind of what their roles entailed and that I’d be standing around a lot. I was properly prepared.
In addition to some fulfilling conversations off set with people, including a guy in a car telling me I was pretty as I walked past in my red polar fleece and asking me for my number, there were more moments of seeing the film come together beautifully. So I was sad when it was called a wrap on the film (except for the fact that I didn’t want to make more breakfast quiches). We had such a great team of people involved who willingly gave up their weekends to come and volunteered to be part of our team. I have a good feeling that something amazing is going to happen and that we’ll all be working together very soon on the feature length version. But, I shan’t get ahead of ourselves. Ricky has to cut and edit it into a film first. Then you can expect Ricky, Michele, Gin, Devoir, J and I to all go nuts.
And as far as my on-set role as caterer went, it was a success. Compliments flew around. The pavlova was a smash hit with the Americans. But most of all, Rachael commented on what a great spread we had on our craft services table and how it beat what was offered on some of the other, far larger productions she’s worked on. Yay! I guess that makes all the waiting around worthwhile.