Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Blue Bloods

The Set
Mr. Tom Sellack; tall, broad shouldered, stately, and utterly focused; sat six feet away from little ol' me in Bamontes, a stand-in restaurant for a Center Street restaurant.  The tables were round. There was a chandelier in the middle of the room right above Mr. Sellack's table. The kitchen had windowed doors that faced the dining room. You had to walk through a crowded bar (crowded with screens and director's chairs).  The owner of the establishment sat watching at the bar.

My On-Set Experience
There I was sitting eating (shhhh--it was only supposed to be pretend eating) itty bitty bites of delicious, steaming and later-cooled lemon chicken and pantomiming with a few of my powerful best friends I met a few moments before. We talked about important "cases" we'd encountered at work like the case of the pb&j that had gone a rye (heehee--awry).  The "sun" was shone in on us from the doorway (a really strong, bright light that had the same effects on me as the sun--it made me really thirsty) and the crew zipped around making the shots look glorious--and my hair/make-up fixed up a couple of times--to save it from the melting "sunshine"--which made me feel so much more official.
My powerful hair do.  I wonder if I looked more powerful like that.
These were the make-up people.  They reminded me to put on lipstick a few times.
And Mr. Sellack and fellow SAG acting actors? They were acting up a storm. I really wanted to watch, but all I could do was absorb from a distance.  It was just like sitting in any other restaurant hearing a conversation that is much more interesting than your own and you are dying to look more than a glance, but realize doing more would be considered rude-- if I had, in this case, I would have been looking straight into the camera.  But I could sense the actors were really in "the zone."

The holding was in a Roman Orthodox Church. This is one of the paintings. Mary looks a little red-eyed and grouchy. I hope that's not irreverent. But in a way, it makes her seem more personable and mom-like; maybe thinking, "Thanks wise men. I'm glad you came but my Son really needs to lie down for a nap now and so do I."
What I Learned
In all my experiences before this, the first assistant director would shout out right before the take, "Rolling!" "Background!" "Action!"  So I had to change my thinking when the First AD didn't shout that out too much.  To Mr. Seleck they would sometimes say softly, "Rolling, start whenever you want."

One time I thought there were crew members hopping around and I thought they were just keeping in character and going through their lines I decided to get a drink of water from my purse--BUT, lo and behold they were filming. Ugh. I felt so guilty. Note to self, only take a drink of water when a crew member is obstructing the view of the camera--not the actors--a crew member.

Afterward the 2nd AD came to our table and said, "Could you please move less."  I am not sure if it was pointed to me, though it felt like he was looking at me and only me---but each of us thought it could be us.  We were supposed to be power-diners, so after that we tried to look more serious, and um, powerful.

These are the types of signs they have to let us know where holding is . . . that's kind of given, but just in case you were wondering.
One of the big things I learned that day was that different directors do things, specifically warning background artists, differently.  Now I know and will be prepared in the future.

I have been looking into film making on a much smaller scale and in my reading found out something about director, Clint Eastwood. Here it is, just in case you are interested, "One of the best lessons I ever got in film directing was watching behind-the-scenes footage of Clint Eastwood at work. He is a revelation in simplicity. He'll casually walk through a scene with the actors then say, "Okay, let's just roll one off and see what happens. Go whenever you want."  He's loathe to say, "Action," never says "Cut," and never uses video playback, standing right next to the camera and watching each take on a little wireless monitor he carries around in his hands.At the end of a take he might say, "Yeah, that was nice. Let's move over here. . . "One or two takes on each angle and that's it."(Carroll, Mike. Naked Filmmaking; How to Make a Feature-Length Film without a Crew for $10,000 or Less. 2010). 

That's exactly how the director worked.  The crew really made a point to stand back and let the actors take over, it was amazing. There was such focus in the whole restaurant. I loved it.When and if I make a movie, I want to work like that.
This guy paused to pose for me while he opened the door to the holding room. Thanks guy.
My Off-Set Experience
When they were finished with that scene and they didn't need my table of people any more, I went outside to wait and see if they needed me later.  I talked with the guest star a little and soon found myself standing in the walkway of the door and I overheard Mr. Sellack telling Jay O. Sanders that he was a producer and had produced several things.

These were super nice extras with me. The gal in the front and left was a waiter.  The guy at the front table was a pedestrian.  The people in the very back were the hair people. One of them was the guy I wrote about previously in my White Collar post.
I wanted soooo bad to go and pepper Mr. Selleck with a boat load of producer questions. But one of the first rules of background artistry is to let the the principals have their space and do not speak to them, unless spoken to. But it was really hard! So soon enough they were called back into the restaurant and I went and waited for 40 minutes for some really great juice in the very brisk wind then walked back to holding.

They didn't need me for the rest of the day. But I was there until 10:30 p.m. mostly talking with other adults, which at this point in my life, is something I do not get to do often. The other background artists were really nice and interesting people. I felt blessed to talk with them. From 7-7:30 we had dinner--which meant for me fresh stir-fry--which was delicious! They had left over fortune cookies so my table smuggled them all and we had a fun fortune cookie reading.  Mine said profoundly, "Do something spontaneous tomorrow."

Russian Orthodox Church--the holding.
Watch It!
If you don't get CBS on your television (I don't) then you can watch it here, eventually. The episode is going to be called something like "Reagan vs. Reagan."  Let me know if you see it.  It will be great!

And dear CBS productions people, if you ever see this, thank you for the opportunity. I learned a lot. The cast and crew were focused and determined.  Thank you for your quality programming. :)  M

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

NY Fashion Week

On Saturday, I did something I never thought would happen. I went to the New York Mercedes Benz Fashion Week. Can you believe it?! I hardly can.

My friend Whitney and I went because she was invited and I got to tag along (for free--heehee). I found out later the tickets are worth between $200-400. What a great day!

I wore some clothes that I generally feel really comfortable in, because I clearly was not going to be seen rather to see and the fact of the matter is I don't think I own an item of clothing I would consider high fashion.  So I wore what I liked and made me feel comfortable and called it good.

The first show the clothes were amazing, but I had this very bizarre feeling that most of the people that were coming into the room looking at the models and everyone with a condescending and smug eye and were frankly afraid to smile at anyone for more than a fraction of a second.

I will admit that shocked me a bit and mine fell off for a brief few moments, then I remembered, I don't know any of these people. They can feel sick to their stomachs and show it on their faces, but I feel great and I am going to show it.  If you know me, you understand that in most circumstances I have a smile perpetually glued to my face.Plus, they may have been giving me a funny look because obviously my bangs decided to do something creative on my head without my knowing it.

The models did amazingly well to not smile, but I think they wanted to, a lot. I'll admit, I really wanted to see if I could sit there long enough to make the solemn faced models smile, but I didn't want anyone in the fashion industry to think I was looking at their profession as a joke, so I refrained.  I think they were grateful. . . because I think I could have done it.

The smile, or maybe my bangs, made the security people a little wary of me and I feel fairly certain they called me in, "Hey, there's a lady with old shoes here-- and -- she's smiling with wild hair. Somebody get her out of here."

That last part, I think actually happened because we heard something about it later

 Then we went into the courtyard-ish area of the fashion show place at  Lincoln Center.  There were different mini-shows of products. I got some free lip gloss, shampoo and conditioner, water and a plastic pepsi straw (designed by Jonathon Alder--now I have a designer something). Everyone was chatting away. On the screen it showed the shows in progress and advertisements for the sponsors (absolutely key to fashion week). There were many people there.  Some were waiting to buy tickets to the shows.  There were even some high fashion-dressed children there.

Then we went to another show.  It was just like all the ones you see in the movies or in the magazines.  There were front row seats that had a beautiful red boxes with a gift scarf in them, the second row had a green program introduction as well as the list of all the outfits.

The models were practicing when we came in and my friend and I were fairly sure they were wearing the fashion clothes, but it was their own clothes; which was a pity in a way,  because there were some clothes we actually owned--and I was hoping I actually had something nearly high fashion. And we found out we were standing by a world famous model, Carol Alt.

The people filed into their seats and the photographers went wild over a bunch of people (you can see them talking to each other and taking pictures with their I-phones in the front row behind the models). I'm not sure about the red head, but to the right of her is Carol Alt, then Matthew Settle and Kelly Rutherford (who came and took a picture of the people sitting in front of us).

The feeling in the room was electrifying.The air of excitement grew until you could almost taste the anticipation. People sat near us, like mothers with their teenage daughter-model-hopefuls, and many fashion hungry people, like us.

When the lights went dark the music started and the first model stepped out it was better than a movie.  We did like we'd seen other people do in movies talked about the clothes, "Oh I love the asymmetrical tweed pleated dress. Hmm, could I wear that?" "That's going to be on Pinterest next week with a self how-to, just watch, and I want to make it." "See the way that jacket falls on that girl, perfect for a girl like me."    "I would love that if it had sleeves."  "Add 8 more inches onto that skirt and I'd wear it in a second." And when the last model walked out in her silk green dress I gasped, it was gorgeous, even if a few adjustments would have to be made for me to wear it.  :)

The designer, Son Jung Wan hugging a Matthew Settle.
Believe me, pictures and movies do the shows no justice--being there is a whole thousand levels above anything you could watch on the fashion sites. The mood as I left the second one left me with a feeling of, "Now you've seen something amazing. Go on, go create something too."  Which may be odd to some, but with my current state of life applied fairly well.

Advice for future fashion shows:
  • Get as close to the models as you can appropriately. Really get into the joy of it. Don't care what other people are saying or how they are looking at you or others. I didn't in the first one, so I didn't get the great dose of enthusiasm and pizzaz factor as I did in the second show.
  • Bring your best camera and an extra battery (I didn't and I really regretted it)
  • Wear your nicest clothes, coat, and accessories
  • Absorb everything, it's NY Mercedes Benz Fashion Week for goodness sake
  • Research well-known fashionites beforehand
There were thousands of beautiful people there and these thoughts kept coming to mind as I was there: see this and this. Also, for the record, I desperately need a well-known-person-recognition app for my phone.

You can watch this and pretend you were with us.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

A Gifted Man Poem-ish Thing

A friend of mine posted a blip about her life in poetry so I thought I would copy her (thanks, Suzie). Here is my day being a background artist on  A Gifted Man, last Tuesday 2/7/2012.  The link at the bottom will take you to the show I am on in a few weeks (I hope).  Also, the poem may not be the clearest poem you've ever read, so feel free to ask questions. :)


A man has a gift. What gift is that?!
It's his ex-wife ghost telling him to do right or rats!
I was an extra on this show.
To a sleeveless dress I told them no.
They put my hair up in a do.
And sprayed it down without shampoo.
The details here I cannot share.
They asked us kindly to leave info there.
I saw Patrick Wilson a few feet away.
I stood very still like a ball of clay.
The lights shown brightly from above
Like light shining down from a big white glove.
The cameras seemed to be every where
The assistant director had short hair.
She called out directions as clearly as day.
We all moved aside so she could go her way.
There was no lunch, it was so sad.
We were quite hungry, it was bad.
For lunch they told us to walk away,
But I had questions for the PA.
Making shows can be quite intense
And requires more than a couple of cents.
My head was thinking in and out
How can I make something like that come about.
Acting felt so glamorous and happy,
Just watching them all made me feel snappy.
Would I do this another day?
I feel I could shout, "Yes, I may."

Thanks to all the cast and crew.
They couldn't make it great without all of you.
Thank you for letting me talk and watch.
It helped me learn much more than one notch.

Thanks for reading this, I know it's bad.
But knowing you're reading this makes me glad.
Back to my life I now must go.
Soon, I hope you'll watch me on the show!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Rachael Ray Follow-up

So it is airing even as I write this, but my famous part came up so I had to post it. :)  I was on with my good friend, Nelta for a good seven seconds.  Whoo hoo for scarf fashion! I snapped these pictures over at my laundromat.  I am so thankful for the laundromat! :)

If you missed it you can go here: http://www.rachaelrayshow.com/videos/#. I'm under the Fashion Tip-off: Gretta vs. Zanna Round.  Zanna Round is an editor of Marie Claire, I think.  She told me I was "one step ahead of the fashion trend."  Thanks to my friends sitting next to me, in the video, that told me of this great video they'd seen on youtube and gave me the how-to. :)