Thursday, June 7, 2012

The Sometimes-Not-So-Glamorous Process of Film-Making: or Time to Hyperventilate? (UPDATED: Now With Edits)

UPDATE: Ok, I read up a little more and this post is now just another example of my anxiety-ridden crazy brain going into panic mode.  What do I usually do when that happens? I either hyperventilate and curl up into the fetal position and cry, or I write it all down and I just sound like a crazy person. You're welcome. I'm going to go take my meds now. Also, is the best website ever for actors.
Over the weekend, you may or may not have seen my tweets from the set of White Liars. Saturday was a shooting day of epic-ness. It was the longest day of filming I've ever done outside, but we couldn't have asked for better weather. The skies were ominous early in the morn with some left-over rain clouds from the night before, but by the time I was called to the set at 10AM, the skies were clear and blue and the sun was shining for the rest of the day.  Beautiful.

Film-making is filled with a lot of "hurry up and wait" moments.  Hurry up and get to the set at your call time, then wait until they're ready to shoot your scene. Hurry up and get into position, then wait for all of the elements to fall into place: wait for sound, wait for the camera to record, wait for the director, hold for sound - there's a motorcycle, hold for sound - there's an airplane, stop, cut - some dumbass pedestrians walked into the shot. Reset - get pack into position, try again. It was about 14 hours of that.

Not that I'm complaining, but after Saturday, I completely understand why professional productions with a larger budget than ours have so many people on a crew. Our writer/director/editor/sound op/production coordinator/P.A/actor(s) are all the same people; in an independent production funded by donations and shoe strings we all have to wear many hats. Either because of, or in spite of all of this, I love TV/film production. I love the energy of the set, I love being able to laugh about the ridiculousness that comes from filming on the streets of NYC (I now understand why Hollywood uses back lots all the time.) I just get a rush from being a part of a large creative endeavor, even if my creativity has to be in stop-and-go mode all day. There's something just bohemian and fun about suddenly losing your sound guy because he has to fly to Houston for a last-minute paying job in 3 hours and then everyone turns to you and says, "Congrats, you're the new boom operator/sound engineer for the rest of this shoot. Here's your headphones." And I was a damn fine sound op, if I do say so myself.  I may have found a new calling talent.

What are these jokers doing in our shot? Don't they know we're filming a low-budget web series here?!

 On another note, I want to thank everyone who donated to the White Liars Kickstarter campaign! The production is now funded and is also SAG-AFTRA approved, which means that those in the cast who are already members of the union will get paid and not be in danger of losing their membership for appearing in a non-union production. Plus, that also means that those of us who are currently non-union can very very soon be eligible to join SAG-AFTRA also. I am freaking out about this a little bit. I got the e-mail this morning about needing to send our producer my "particulars" so he can submit the Taft Hartley papers. I'm excited and scared and hopeful all in one! It's really scary when a piece of your dream starts to fall into place, but it also means you'll make a major life choice. 

I am under no obligation to become SAG-AFTRA eligible at this time, but how can I turn it down? Once you are eligible, you have a 30-day period to accept as many union jobs as you can, and then you either must join the union officially if I want to work another union job or not.  If you choose not to join, you will have to start over again working towards union-eligibility (in my case, years.)  
Apparently I know not what I say because the SAG website info is crap. Now I know better.
If you choose to join, you will have to pay the union dues and any additional fees (upwards of $2300) which at this juncture is a fee I cannot afford to pay in a lump sum. 

Maybe my landlord just won't notice that I don't pay rent for 3 months due to union dues...

SAG-AFTRA has a credit union where you can get a loan and pay your dues in increments which is awesome, but I have shit credit thanks thanks to medical bills and credit card charges I racked up just trying to eat and pay rent during the 8 months I was unemployed in the year everything went to hell-or 2008, as it is known to some people.  
So right now, I'm feeling a little bit like the universe is taunting me, or has issued me a passive-aggressive ultimatum on pursuing my dream. I know it really is never too late to go for your dream, look at the wonderful Kathryn Joosten, who lost her battle with lung cancer recently.  She had a full and active acting career which didn't start until she was 42 (something almost unheard of in the youth-obsessed culture of Hollywood) but she was recognizable both in face and voice usually as, "Oh hey, it's that lady." Plus she won 2 Emmys! Or look at Jane Lynch.  She's been a working actor for years, but was not very well-known until The 40-Year-Old Virgin, when she was in her 40's. So, it's never too late. But I still feel like if I were to pass on this opportunity to join the union now, I would regret it. I'm also not assuming that I'm going to be famous just by joining the union.  In fact I would rather not be a celebrity.  I just want to work at something I love and get paid enough to pay my bills. That is the "American Dream" isn't it?

What's NOT standing in my way
-Emotional support from those who love/care about me
-My drive/yearning for this to happen
-My talent
-My love of the industry

What IS standing in my way?
-Money (or lack thereof)
-More fear  

Welcome to my existential inner conflict that plagues my mind.
I guess I just gotta pull on my big-girl panties and power through.

You see what I did there, right? Yeah.

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