Friday, October 19, 2012

Uncommon Goods

My children were invited to be professionally filmed product testers for Uncommon Goods.  They were ecstatic! They used the amazing Bike Chalk Trail Kit

My children had a blast testing it.  The kidlets put the chalk holder on the bikes and added the chalk all by themselves (which is very empowering for any child).  They chose the colors (there are four different ones to pick from). Then they rode the bikes around the park.  It even worked on S's bike with training wheels! They still talk about how much fun it was!

It was filmed by the very talented Adam Grimshaw, an amazing NYC photographer.    The colors are so vivid and inviting. Doesn't it just make you want to attach chalk to your bike and ride around?

And we got paid. . . that was super!  Thanks Adam! 

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Rachael Ray Show

One thing about life is that you never really know what is going to happen.

Source and from Lindsay
When I wrote about the past experience on Rachael Ray I did not mention that at one point they called out in the waiting area, pre-show, "Is there anyone with three children?"  I have three kidlets, so I raised my hand. They came over to me and asked, "Would you like to as Rach a question or prepare a video for a segment?"  I said something like, "Sure. Why not?!"  I was really excited. But as the show progressed, I forgot about the question--I mean they gave me a 10 second feature of me and my scarf.  Then I forgot all about it.

Then a few months back they called and asked if I had a cleaning tip or wanted to ask Rachael for a cleaning tip and I had a lot, but they called me back a few days later and said, "We don't need you this time, we'll call you again another time."  For some reason I assumed that would be the last of it.

But then they called me Wednesday, August 12; right after I went to the cost-efficient grocery store in Queens; and asked me what I like to take to Potluck Parties and I told them my good old stand-by cookies (because I make a mean chocolate chip and chocolate chip oatmeal, and when I say mean I mean extremely tasty).

Eventually they called me and we came up with the idea . . . seven layer dip in clear, individual cups. Don't let the simplicity of what I wrote fool you, it took us about two hours to come up with that idea.  Apparently my brain and pressure don't get along.  Every time I talked with them I tried to tell myself I was very brave.

Dear shyness: Couldn't you please kick in another time, like when I'm putting my foot in my mouth?!  That is all. --M

Preparing the segment
Wednesday afternoon I got a call from a segment coordinator for the Rachael Ray Show asking if I would be interested in doing a cooking segment on Potlucks. I was like sure . . . but already I could feel the blood rushing through my head and I tried to understand everything he said, but I was kind of sidetracked and he probably had to repeat a few things a couple of times.  Thursday and Friday I planned with the segment coordinators. One of the women segment coordinators helped to me develop and plan my idea extensively.  I really appreciated the help.  I used all her ideas and went forward filming what I hoped would show a confident, exuberant person.

I spent a lot of Saturday preparing for and filming my segment on the Rachael Ray show (including getting eyelash extensions for the first time in my life, a French gel manicure, and haircut.  I was ecstatic and extremely anxious about filming at the same time.

Advice and Back Story

A few times during filming I added some zesty words like "Viola" and "Tada" but W told me it didn't sound professional.  I told him that RR used exciting words and it was one of the things that endears her to the American public.  But I still took his advice.


The reason I took his advice is that there have been times that I have been told my enthusiasm is just too much--like at BYU [Side story. If you are dramatically minded the scene would do the drip effect and I would be back at BYU with short hair in one of the ballrooms]. One of my teachers that had been really emphasizing the need for enthusiasm and boy I gave her every ounce of my enthusiasm, to which she responded "Are you making fun of me?"  For the sake of your understanding, I was solely giving her enthusiasm and was not making fun of the good woman.  Can I help it if enthusiasm comes easily to me when asked? So you understand my trepidation.

Then I sent it in and waited.

No one tells you how difficult it is to wait and pray that somehow you won't look like a complete ninny in your segment.  I prayed really hard just to be even keeled and not to worry if they decided to just throw out my tip and that I would be levelheaded.  It seemed like forever from Saturday to Tuesday and I felt so nervous.  Bravery is easy to talk about and much harder to implement than most people realize.

Outside the building
When we got to the new Rachael Ray studio the people I was supposed to look for were nowhere to be seen, so Lindsay and I (Lindsay was my guest) went to the back of the line to wait because we figured they would show up at some point.  A few minutes later I got a call from my segment coordinator and he asked if I was in the city yet. I told him I was outside.  He asked where and I waved.

The Dressing Room
We were then escorted in to our dressing room with a bathroom ten feet away (YAY--check off the old acting bucket list that wasn't really there but should have been). We shared it with the other tipsters and they were so nice and we had a great time talking together.  We even had a fruit bowl with cold drinks and our names on the door. I felt like a movie star.  It was in their new studio too.  The room was designed by someone who went to work for Home Goods later (well done, right?!).

Hair and Make-up
We had to have hair and make-up touch-ups.  Anyone that knows me well knows I get excited about hair and make-up--follow the link for my pinboard.  I had a lovely time chatting with the hair and make-up person.   She is an avid pinner too and she complimented me on my hair color (yes!) and on my matching fake-hair head band that I wore. Yes!

love love loved this show.  We got to sit around eating lots of food. It was delicious. Everyone brought their own potluck dish.  We got to taste truffles, this amazing coconut bar (I wish I had asked for the recipe, it was so good), this amazing pasta, and my own 7-layer-dip. I was in Heaven and actually left the show completely full, which never happens when I go to the TV talk shows--usually I'm starving afterward.

But I wouldn't let myself eat too much of the goodness until my segment was past. I kept checking with my "guest," Lindsay, to make sure my teeth were clean and to make-sure I looked camera ready.  My part was after the second set of  commercials.  It went right into it.  I was super excited and nervous.

I tried to pay attention to my video but I just kept thinking, "Please, don't look like an idiot."

This is me in the transition shot. I love Rach's face! Someday I want to have the gift of gab,  humor, relate-ability,  enthusiasm that she has--so that is what this photo is about--I'm changing for the better.  It's just going to take time. Maybe a lot of time.
Then afterward I had a close-up moment and they told me to smile and I am sure the camera was on me for less than two seconds, but those two seconds felt like minutes and I was trying really hard to smile normally but then my face started twitching. In my head all I could think was, "Why is my face twitching? How can I get it to stop?  Why are you holding your breath? Breathe. Breathe!"

The rest of the show was a snap. I enjoyed it so much. Rachael Ray has an amazing energy and enthusiasm and made the entire audience laugh several times through the show.

Lindsay and I are in the middle.  This was the moment I was not totally grinning from ear to ear.  But I love how the girl in the front looks like she's about to eat "Rachael."  She's great! This was photographed from my friend's television.
The producers were so nice and helpful. They made me feel like a million bucks. Thank you so much G, M and Rach!

If you want the information to get on the show just leave a comment and whether or not you'd like the comment to be published.  I'll gladly give you the information. I hope you loved the show, I know I did!  I  got to watch it at my friend, Lindsay's house.  She made popcorn for us and our little boys that were with us at the time.  It was almost as much fun watching it as it was being on it.

A few things were marked off my bucket list--dressing room, featured part, talking and being heard, hair and make-up (again).  Yay!

**Added later.  Some people have mentioned they cannot find the link.  If clicking on several of the photos above did not direct you to the video go

Thursday, August 2, 2012

The View

Went with friends.
  Got a $75 gift card to a place outside NYC.
Not sure when it will be used.
Heard a lot of opinions.
Didn't agree with much.
Thanks for the card.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Have you seen this?

Look at that camera on top! Now when you look near my house you'll get a look of me herding my children and gawking taking a photo of the car (maybe).  I was excited to see it. I wonder what it looks like inside the car.  Now I can say my kidlets and I have been background artists for Google maps. . . ish.  Have you?

Thursday, June 7, 2012

To the makers of the film "Hugo"

For the record, I was not an extra for this film.

I casually follow a photography/videography blog called FStoppers and it had an interesting video about the making of Hugo. After I saw "the closing steadicam shots" I had to see the movie!

It doesn't happen very often that I find a film that I just look at am shocked at how personal it seemed--how it made me feel it was just for me--the story line, the colors, the movements of the camera, the characters all blended into a unique version of European chocolate for the mind/emotions--originally thought up (somewhat) right here in Brooklyn (the book the movie is based on is called The Invention of Hugo Cabaret).  And to top it off, my children loved it.

I youtube-d the movie to find out if I could see more behind-the-scenes stuff and I learned that Mr. Scorsese had made the movie so that he could show his 12-year-old-daughter his work (his other work is not child-friendly).

After I watched the movie I decided to write a letter to Mr. Scorsese thanking him and I wanted to post it here, just in case any of the people worked on the film got curious, Googled something or other, and ended up here so they could read it and be personally thanked through the following letter:

Dear Mr. Scorsese:

My family and I just finished watching Hugo for the first time.  Never has any movie taken me almost completely out of my seat and made me feel as though I was with Hugo lonely and desperately determined; Méliès facing memories and turning to something he loved to do (which felt very personal for me); or Isabella, whose joy it was to use exceedingly long and outlandishly appropriate words while anticipating the next adventure.  

My whole family was sitting in the living room of our Brooklyn apartment, sitting on the couch undeniably entranced by Hugo. It was like we were a part of the story smiling at each other at the idiosyncrasies of the people falling in love and gasping in anticipation with each development. When they found the hidden compartment in the armoire my son (age 8) said, “Mom, that’s like me, I would have found that.”  And at the end my daughter (age 7) said, “Mom, do you think I’ll be like her?” She was referring to Isabelle.  And after it was over we all got up and danced around the room, whirling each other about and laughing as the ending credits played.  It was a few moments of pure heaven. The details of my beautiful children’s faces seemed brighter and clearer and all I could feel was condensed blessedness in every aspect of my life.

Hugo was art, art that engages, enthralls, sympathizes, empathizes, chills you, cries with you, laughs with you, sings to your soul, and just about reaches out to hold your hand; undoubtedly just what you had in mind. It brings the ideals of finding a purpose, loving family through thick and thin, and pressing on despite adversity.   

If Hugo, the movie,  was a person, we would be friends.

You must receive millions of letter like this, but if you do see this, Mr. Scorsese, thank you very much!  Thank you for spending all those hours and complicated moments making this movie for me and my family. And please tell your nearest and dearest thank you from me and my family for being your inspiration and support.

With Deep Gratitude,


P.S. Please make more movies for your daughter. You are very good at it! The world needs more child-friendly movies as illuminating as Hugo.

My children drew pictures to add to the envelope.  

Isabelle, Station Inspector, Hugo (hidden in the clock) and the mechanical mouse at the toy shop.
Yes, we are working on spelling. :)

I'm sending it tomorrow.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, Monday 5/7

They'd already taken down the signs for Monday, so I snapped this 
Character Portrayal and Moment of Humor.

For me, Florence Elagnithgin Rotca, life was at the lowest it has ever been. Every prospect had been flung out the window and lay in smithereens all across 50th Street between 6th and 7th Ave.   It was a sad, sad day.  I mustered all my courage to leave the Time Life Building that day with my head drooped in discouragement and my bag and my box of my feeble work belongings.  What was I going to do?
I was going to recycle.  They needed more people in the shot so I again picked up my box to go back to the building to load up on more stuff.  I was a fired employee and my boss . . . much nearer the cameras . . . was . . . to be continued in the next issue.

Just for the record, I was not fired. It was all the acting I did on Monday, as a background actor.
At one point this man walked into the door I was standing next to. He asked, "What movie are they filming?" I said, "It is The Secret Life of Walter Mitty."   The man said, "Oh, Danny Kaye? I love Danny Kaye."
He walked a few more feet away, and I wasn't sure if he knew that Mr. Kay passed away some years ago, but I said, "Yes, like that . . . only--he's dead."

Somehow that's less funny typed. It was hilarious at the moment, but that could have been the fact we were all sunburned, windburned and wet and the guy didn't hear me.  Any humorous relief was like a five minute seat in a warm room with a square, healthy meal digesting within.

Monica, Me and Melissa (?), all background.
Star Sighting

The picture above was taken right after we were waiting for an hour by the fountain.  It was a beautiful day at the time and I was enjoying looking at what the passers-by were wearing and choosing the things I liked the most about each one.  But I did not analyze their faces too much. Mostly I said, "I like those shoes." "Look at that bag!" (Yes, Mom--I think I'm getting more Eastern-ly--in Idaho I would have said, "Look at that purse"). I was also looking at hair-dos and Adam Scott passed by and I didn't even look at his face except to notice a very fake looking beard (which will look completely real on camera). I said, "Oh I like his hair."  I think he heard. Oops.  My friend then told me who he was. Chagrin may be the proper word for my feelings at that moment.  Also, I would add, I think he would have talked with me.  He talked with some of the other extras but my darn shyness (which sets in at inopportune moments as per previous posts) made me almost flee. UGH! Also, I saw the gal who got voted off American Idol last week.

Source Mr. Scott and his real beard.
The Case of the Mistaken Identity 
On my way to holding I saw this woman with absolutely perfect posture (as in drill team worthy) walk by me near the craft wagon (the place we get food) and I asked, "Are you background?"  She said, "Excuse me?" I knew right then and there if she was background she would have known exactly what I was talking about.  I said, "Oh, never mind. Sorry." Then she started laughing. . . so did I, sheepishly.  But I will add, somehow her laugh seemed more mechanical. She just walked like an extra--seriously focused on walking confidently and erect.  And, her blonde-white hair was so perfectly set. Oops.

Unlisted Goal Accomplishments.
Sometimes I feel like I have mental goals; the ones that I haven't written down, not because I haven't thought about them, just that I didn't write them down and then when they get accomplished I feel I must write them down and count them as accomplished goals. Happily, three more of my unlisted bucket list goals were taken care of yesterday as I was background for The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.  One, being in a remake of a movie and not just any movie, but one of the ones I watched at least twice a year growing up and to be in a movie with a star I actually have a movie of in my home (Night At The Museum and Leap Year). Also, to be in a movie where the main actor is also the director. In this movie Ben Stiller is the director and main character, Walter Mitty.  Just from listening to the lines I think it will be pretty great and I am excited to see it--just to see him acting as Walter Mitty.  Also, my theory is that Mr. Stiller is a perfectionist, in a great way.  I think the entire day was spent filming a 40 second segment. It was really enlightening about the amount of time it takes to film that much and I'm excited to see the post-production results.  To see some great photos of Mr. Stiller yesterday go here. 
Source, this was not from Monday, but the guy with the beard on Mr. Stiller's shoulder,
was on location yesterday too--he is 96 years old, his nephew, a fellow extra, said.  
Visual Appearance Department Compliments that made me feel Fabulous
Wardrobe liked what I brought and said, "Oh, this looks good." I was floored. Then when hair/make-up said, "You already look great. You don't even need lipstick. You're ready to go." I felt so proud of my getting ready skills I just beamed and said, "Thank you!"

My Daring Rescue
One thing that has constantly surprised me about crews and casts is the separation of jobs. It is something taken very seriously. For example, if you're cast--you don't help the crew unless they specifically ask you to.  But, there are times the crew just needs help and my mother always taught me that if someone needs help to help if at all possible.  On this day, there was a load of boxes that had been piled up and they were heading to the road to topple out all over the place and create a mess (or not--who knows really), but it was speeding toward the road and I clapped out (meaning my high heeled shoes clapped as they hit the pavement) and saved them just in time.  But it is important to note, if one is an extra and one sees a crew member needs help with equipment (not props) one cannot touch the equipment, one must ask another crew member to help the other crew member (unless it's a matter of life and death--then by all means one should help, if one can).

Low-Budget Movie Making Advice from the Pros 
Don, Props man . . . advice to me future low-budget movie maker . . . nothing to do with the film at hand.
Best ways to get props for a movie with a decent budget is to go to a prop house (I didn't even really know they had those and now it is on my bucket list to go and at least look in one--if possible).
Craigslist, buy and return will likely be the most cost-efficient way to shop. He gave me a list of stores that will be good for that.  For camera gear, camera houses may cut a deal if you rent on Sunday (not an option for me).  Craigslist is a good way to go for a crew.  Try to be a PA for a day to help you learn the ropes a little more.

Hannah--painter extraordinaire-  said that painting with a wheat based glutaline (or something like that) will wash off the wall if you need it to.

Talkative Indy-film Savvy Extra--There was at one point where I was speaking with a particularly talkative extra that wanted to tell me all about his experiences in film-making. He really wanted to give me ideas, which I appreciated, but my goal for being there was to talk with the crew.  I hope he did not find me rude when I said something like, "Thank you for talking with me about this.  The crew is eating lunch, I really would like to talk to them about some ideas while they are eating and have a moment. Okay?"  

He was very nice.  I just didn't want to tell him all that I have planned and he wanted to know very specifically what I had in mind. . . but just at that moment, I did not want to tell anyone.  Please tell me that we are all like this, neurotic randomly about things close to us.   I told him that I had an idea about NYC pigeons--since there were some across the street on the buildings.  Oddly enough I haven't been able to get the idea out of my head . . . and it is so simple (as the man pointed out). He said, "Oh, a simple idea. I like that. I always want to do the extra-terrestrial things, aliens and the like that need a huge budget." What a nice fellow. Now, I'm going to have to do something about pigeons.  My kids will love that if I do it with them.  They think pigeons are marvelous creatures. . . especially when it comes to chasing them, which may or may not happen when filming them, if it does indeed happen.

See the microphone? This is how they communicated with Mr. Stiller if needed during the shoot. I didn't see them use it at all, but it is nice they had it if they needed.   Mr. Stiller had an iPad-ish thing that he would watch the filmed sequence (I think) and decide what needed to be changed or better.  

I felt like I needed a of the lighting and equipment to help me imagine my own future shoot someday. . . though mine will be a much smaller scale.
Advice from One of the nice PAs 
Story-boarding. It can be done with a digital camera--saves time and keeps costs down. Try to record digitally what you want in the time you expect.   It is vital that you have something to keep the people in your cast and crew with an idea of what you need to do.

2nd Camera Assistant, advice for a future low-budget film makers.
Camera-wise for Indie Films:  DP could have their own camera.  Start with a digital camera is possible, it will be the cheaper.  Final Cut Pro helps you make the basic edit yourself.  Then you can give it to someone else with more experience finish it. for quality intro classes.

Pre-Indy-Filming-Experience: Try to be a crew member (most likely a PA) in a tier 1, 2, or 3 movie. See how people negotiate budget.

Friday, May 4, 2012

I'm a Model

A little while ago, W, my husband, had a vacation and I got a job being a model for a day. . . yes, a model.  I now can add that to my portfolio.  You may now imagine this writer in a glamour shot--picture me as one of Vogue healthy models (via their new editor pact), note I will be very modest, in a great shoot like maybe this-ish.
I think I would be a super model (haha) for that.   Sadly, I cannot give you much information about the photo shoot because I signed a model's and confidentiality agreement.  It will come out in print sometime, then you will get more information.   I can tell you it was under the heading of the "trinity photo shoot" and there were about two hundred "models" like myself and there may or may not have been a helicopter involved, the salad was tasty and they had popcorn chips. . . but like I said, confidential. 

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Leibster Award


The beautiful SUZIE WHITE steps onto the platform with "Liebster Blog" festooned stylishly across and behind it. Thunderous applaud explodes from the room packed with A-listers and even the ushers are smiling and clapping wildly. SUZIE WHITE nods and smiles and waves at the camera for her baby and smiles broadly especially at her super husband sitting near the front. The applause slowly subsides.

Thank you to all of you for your moral support and inspiration. When I received this award I felt happy and proud.  Now it is up to me to nominate another person's blog for this award of great achievement and application to all the lives of the readers absorbing it. The award goes to . . .
There is a rustle of paper as SUZIE WHITE carefully opens her envelope.  The anticipation is mounting and some of the well-knowns are caught on camera with their lips poised and slightly open--obviously hoping to get the award themselves or to be well acquainted with the person that gets it.

The crowd goes wild. M walks onto the stage to take the award and someone in the crowd jumps up and tries to get it before she does.  Security takes them down before anyone recognizes the culprit. M is visibly having an emotional moment and is completely oblivious to the attempt just made, even though the crowd just gasped in surprise; and also because she just realized she has a blot of peanut butter, from the sandwiches she prepared her children, is gracing a small bit of the gown she is wearing--which she carefully hides with her arm--so the cameras do not see.

Congratulations, M!

Thank you Suzie.  I remember being in the high school plays with you and without really trying you stole the show single-handed-ly. Seriously, you were amazing!  I really appreciate this award from you and all the wonderful people involved. I would especially like to thank the loving support of my sweetheart, his patience and devotion have strengthened me in so many ways . . . Now I would like to award some other dear people whose blogs have made me laugh and enlightened me, especially when it comes to a huge part of my life--motherhood.  There are so many, but the ones that will tell you about today are the following:

  1. Passionate . . . the Expression of the Soul 
  2. Let the Good Times Roll 
  3. Lindsay and Company
Immediately on a screen behind the award-giving stand. . . fireworks go off and the women are ushered accompanied by their sweethearts.  Some great new music group is singing around them and it is obvious all on stage are practically in heaven. . . 

TO BE CONTINUED-ish . . . on the other blogs. :) Thanks Suzie!  

Nominees, please review the rules.  
1. Thank the person who gave you the award and link it back to their blog.
2. Copy and paste the award to your blog.
3. Nominate 3-5 further blogs and let them know by leaving a comment. 

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Movie Addendum and a Bit about My Hopeful Movie

I forgot to tell you about some of the great experiences that happened whilst filming "Now You See Me."

On night three, I ran into the guy that does CGI for the movie, Danny, I think was his name.  I said, "Are you part of the CGI department?"  He said pointedly, "I am the CGI department."  Then I felt like a squashed bug.  He was rushing around trying to get things set up so he knew what needed CGI-ed. It was so neat to pretend like I knew what he was doing.  But I still managed to finagle a few more answers out of him. . . I asked him what films he'd done previously and I can't remember any of the ones he said, except Titanic.  I had recently read an article about the movie and it had said that the CGI in Titanic was groundbreaking. So I told him that and he gave me  a please-no-more-questions/comments look and scuttled away.

Night Four, Experience A
A couple of comments that I heard those nights, particularly the fourth night, have been echoing in my head.  At one point one of my new friends came over to me and asked, "Do you think there are talent scouts here tonight? My dad says he thinks there are."  This was right after she went through a whole fake hitting me thing--which completely surprised me and I re-acted like I was getting hit. You know--fake slap to the right; reaction, face turns to the left--but all in slow motion.

A couple of days later, as this came to the forefront of my memory bank, I realized I had talked about my movie and I laughed to myself thinking she may have meant me. She could have been meaning me, right?!  Right?!  I'm going to think of it that way, because it makes me feel more certain of myself in the movie-making-way. So, if you read this and you know it's you, thank you for the complement--even if it wasn't for me.

Night Four, Experience B
Also on night four, I was asking one of the camera operators a boat load of questions and he started asking me some and it came up that I was trying to learn all I could so I can make a movie. One girl, S, overheard and gleefully asked, "I want to be in your movie! Can I be in your movie?"

I was stunned.  I'm not sure why I was so shocked because I was surrounded by people that would give their right arm to be an actor, with lines, in a movie.  But, that someone would downright say, "I want to be in your movie!" made me feel like a billion dollars.

But, I couldn't think straight. It was wa-a-a-y past my bedtime and I'll be honest, I was running purely on adrenaline. I stuttered, "I'm not even sure if the movie will be made."  I was wracking my brains imagining her as the different characters. So I told her that she could make a video of her acting and send it to me so I could see it and email me when it was ready.

Dear S:  Please forgive me for butchering you name so many times the nights of the movie shoot.  I would get it horribly wrong, you would correct me and I would say it right two times and then the next time I start talking to you, again, it would be all wrong.  Also, I wasn't meaning to shut you out when you were persistently telling me you wanted to be in my movie, it is just that I haven't even planned that far in advance. I'm still in step two: get script approval.  When I get to the casting point I'm hoping to get out and see a lot of people in plays, hear them read for me, and we'll see where it goes. I would love to see you act. But before I get to that point I have to secure funding. Thank you for wanting to be in my movie. I feel very validated. --M

About my movie. . . ooohh, I get chills when I write that. . . my movie. I gave the script to my (hopeful) camera man to see what he thought. His daughter read it and liked it (whew!). Now I am waiting to see what he and his wife think.  I feel so blessed to live in a place where I get to know people with ideals similar to my own. :)  I think it's God's way of saying, "Go forward, create!"

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Now You See Me Movie

Day 4-- Monday night

In order to get us excited and enthusiastically pantomiming,  one of the PA's this night hollered, with exceeding gusto in a Croatian accent,to the nearby background actors, "Be like you see da Rollin' Stones.  Be excited . . . like you see da Pope. I don't know! Just be excited."

While this was the day I had the opportunity to ask a lot of questions, it was also the day that we worked really hard and there were only two breaks other than lunch. They were trying to get everything in they possibly could because it was the last day of filming. I had a lot of different question for the different departments.

Mark Ruffalo
There were 700 people there.  We had to look to several different parts of the set and it was really challenging at one point to keep us all focused.  But, I was really impressed as Mr. Letterier, the director used a green pointer light, that when on the roof shone all the way over to the Empire State Building.    He shone it where we were supposed to be looking and it kept us focused like a charm (now if it will just work with my kids).

Being an extra is not always an "easy job."  I know. A lot of background actors will scoff at their own profession stating, "Where else can I get paid for doing nothing?"  And yet, you try staying up all night, acting like you're having the best time of your life--the entire night--imagining something so amazing that, if it was real, you know you'd have kicked yourself for the rest of your life for missing.  To me, and to the people there that night, it falls under the heading of hard work, especially if it is freezing and you're hungry and the bathrooms are well, let's just say, less than desirable.

Behind that million dollar crane are some of the head-iest haunchoes  in the movie making business. Exciting,
But, then most extras are not me and peppering the amazing people that worked there with questions.  People that are at the top of their field.  People who's paychecks probably . . . are more than descent.  My theory is, when such people are about I'm going to take advantage of the moment and find out all I possibly can.

I was writing as fast as I could so my notes may be eclectic and not make sense, to anyone.

Electric Eric:
Me: Let's pretend I had an almost no-budget film filming in the middle of a park and I needed enough power for my camera and maybe a couple of small lights (like the ones I mentioned previously).
EE:  You'll need a 12 volt battery.  Find a DC kit rental; M. Richardson 12 volt lighting package. You can rent from Paramount in Long Island City.  If people don't mind the sound you could use a Honda 2000 (suitcase sized)  with 30 amps, but you'll need a permit if it is in the park because it is very loud.

He may have told me a lot more, but this is all I wrote down and I don't remember if I had the brainpower at that hour to ask any more questions or remember anything else for that matter. :)  Eric, if you ever see this, thank you so much! If I ever see you again I'll probably have more questions.  You were great to answer the ones I had.

Chris, the Camera Man
The moment he knew he wanted to be a camera man began when he tried to get his then-girlfriend interested in photography.  The more he pressed, the less interested she became and the more interested he became.   He knew he wanted to do it as a career when he found he could make a living at it.  Practice with regular cameras and then move on to high def when you get better at it. The story boarding (which I did not personally see) looked almost exactly like what they were filming that night, which is really great.  Almost every time they are filming at night at about 4:30 they have the steady cam--with the apparatus attached to him for his video camera. It's like wearing a 70 lb. vest--not fun, but amazing results. If you ever see this, thank you Chris!  You were really helpful!

Anthony, the camera man assistant
Shot stills and then moved on to video cameras. He suggested that The Godfather had superior filming and focus as does Transformers, but not the Twilight series.

To make a good film, look at scripts, specifically the building tension, conflicts and resolution.  Simple stories will prevail.   Movies run in cycles; technicolor, action, natural disasters, underdog.  Film is all about communication and learning about life.  Thank you Anthony, for what you said and for helping me clarify things in my mind about the film I want to make by asking me key questions about my film and why I want it the way I want it. And then acting like my ideas have potential (very validating). :)

Moovie Mic Miller--Security Guy
Good scenes are good scenes because stories are good.  Stay true to characters; in every area, what they say, how they act; must always apply to that character.  This guy is the security for a lot of stars.  He's in a lot of tabloids looking incredibly official and hey-bad-guys-stand-back-ish. Thanks Moovie Mic Miller!

Andrew--Camera Man
Read a lot of filming books.  The movies that you see are the final version.  Watch the commentary.  Come up with your own style--good directors adapt from different styles like Stephen Speilberg, Michael Bay--Mitch loves the 360 degree steady cam shots.

Every era has it's own style.

Go to art museums--look at the way the painters frame the painting, how they used light and shadows. Go to St. Patrick's Cathedral and look at the art.

Note to self. I knew there was a reason I felt drawn to those places and that art. :)  Thank you Andrew for your advice!  I'm going to follow it.

Some of the other background actors that were there have asked me if I have photos of a certain part of the filming. . . see comments of the first Now You See Me post.  I do, but I think I may wait until the movie actually comes out (as well as actual fake moolah). . . you'll like that!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Now You See Me Movie

Day 3 -- Saturday Night

This night I felt amazing. I had gotten plenty of sleep and felt that I had fulfilled my motherhood quotient for the day (I made cookies with my delightedly delightful children) and that made me feel fabulous.  My husband was happy for me. What more was there to say?

Today I promised myself I wouldn't let my inferior fear of people with cameras and official-ity scare me away.  This may shock some of my readers but deeply rooted in me is this awkward shyness of people whom I presume have authority. . . please tell me at least one of you feel this way at times.

So they were filming near me and were pausing for a few glorious moments to reset things and the guy sat down for a moment's rest and I pounced. "Can I ask you a few questions?" I asked with my most brilliant you-know-you-want-to-talk face.

He nodded. I introduced myself, asked his name (Andrew was his name) and began my query. My brain was all a-tizzy because I had hundreds of questions swimming inside but few of them connected with my mouth. The ones I manage to wrangle out of my brain were the extremely exciting ones that follow (I should note the questions and the answers were from memory--on day three I had no pen and paper to write it down):

1. Do you bring your own equipment?

I own my own equipment but for movies like this they give you the equipment you will need for the style of filming they want.  For example, this camera has film. It is not digital.  [I made the appalling mistake of asking if it was old--the cameras are by no means old or in any way, shape or form outdated.]

2. What is the amount that you think I would need to have to make a quality very low-budget film?
This movie is not low budget.  [I about swallowed my tongue--I would never  in a million years make that assumption--700+ extras--amazing stars--nothing says low or comes near the word b.u.d.g.e.t. in my eyes].  I have worked on films with a million dollar budget, ten million and even a hundred million. To make a good quality low budget film I think you would need around a million.  [Um, gulp, if that is the case I may be selling my screenplay because a million dollars has yet to waltz into my Brady Bunch-ish apartment. I should perhaps say that I couldn't hear him very well at this point, but I think that's what he said].
See the anamorphic lens that Chris is holding? This was day 1 or 2.

3.  What kind of lenses are you using for filming this movie?
 This movie has us using anamorphic lenses. [For those unfamiliar with this term, dictionary.reference refers to it as "Outstanding cinematography for features, commercials, music videos . . . having or producing unequal magnifications along two axes perpendicular to each other"].

In the movie they do not have laser vision like it looks in this photograph.  It was not taken with a great camera.  From  left to right,  Jesse EisenbergIsla Fisher, and  Woody Harrelson.  

4.  What is the genre of this movie? IMDB says it is a thriller.
It's not a thriller. It's more of an action mystery movie. . .[at least I think that is what he said--I could be wrong. I desperately needed my faithful pen and paper]. This movie will take the viewers on a journey filled with unexpected twists and turns.  [Seriously, those are the best kinds, right? My mother's unspoken rule is if there is a way to take an unexpected turn on a journey, do it.  Don't you just wish the movie was out already? Also, don't take IMDB too seriously for movies in the making, it's not super reliable].

The view from the top level.
We were filming on the top-most roof of Five Pointz that night. It was much warmer than the first night.  We saw all the big stars and cheered like mad.  They were cheerful and kind to all the people around them.It was exciting to see in person and hear the voices of the people that faces to gracefully (or not) have gleamed upon us from the silver screen.  

Isla Fisher
There was one point where it was very cold and very late and Ms. Fisher was saying her lines differently and much to my chagrin and embarrassment for all extras there that night, one guy yelled out, "Learn your lines!" twice.  I wanted to go over there and kindly tape his mouth shut with gorilla tape, get the scariest PAs to escort him off the roof, then do the bow famous from some 80s movies where they bow and twirl their arms in salute and apology with the phrase, "Please excuse him, he's had just a little too much pickle juice."    I know she heard, I think she did her best not to show anything and then she came back with vim and gusto.  Yay Ms. Fisher!!  I'm a huge admirer because soon after that I had an experience where someone said something derogatory to me about me and I imagined myself there, like Ms. Fisher in front of seven hundred souls gathering wits and strength and not letting it touch my emotions.  Thanks Ms. Fisher, you've inspired me!

Later in the night we saw Mark Ruffalo and Melanie Laurent.

I kept looking up whenever they called Melanie and I felt like answering, "Yes, what do you need?" 
Mr. Ruffalo got pictures with a lot of people (but again with my fear . . . stupid fear).  He was very friendly and addressed the background actors, even thanking us at the end of the night. 
There was one scene where they put me right behind him and I was supposed to look in the place where the camera was--so I ended up looking at Marc Ruffalo's back in shock (because of something  you'll see in the movie).

 Mark Ruffalo   and  Mélanie Laurent  (see what I mean about the camera?!)

Louis Leterrier, the director directed the people who were supposed to be looking at something just beyond the camera lens to look at the top of the crane, not the lens.  Good to know for next time.

I loved being able having to take pictures through out the whole shooting process because now I can look back and think of the good times and the great people I met.  Thanks Danny, Chris, and Andrew!