This is an ever-evolving story of a girl writer and her two greatest loves, the movies and travel. As she hikes the trenches of Hollywood, you're brought along for the ride.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Why Being On Set Is Like Being On A Deserted Island

If you were stuck on a deserted island... What would you bring? Your favorite book? A movie? Your ipod? A notepad, a notebook, crayons? Who would you want to accompany you?

It's the standard 'deserted island' scenario, but being on a film set is much like being on a deserted island. For one, you don't know how long you'll be there. Certainly, you have a general idea of how long your day might be (at least 12 hours), but even if you swim away, you might end up back there tomorrow. In reality, you don't get to leave until they, ' get it' and 'getting it' means everything.

Secondly, you generally don't get to choose the people you're stuck with. Sure, you might recognize them from other projects or learn to like them or even forge fast friendships or relationships, but if you weren't stuck on this filming island, chances are, you'd have no reason to talk to most of them-- not that some of them aren't nice people, but day in, day out-- you have these same people to talk to. It's like being stuck with the people on your airline flight for days on end; A mix of personalities thrown into a test tube. All of them, including yourself, really wants is to go home. We can only be Gilligans for so long until it gets old... really, really, old.

There is waiting and waiting and waiting followed by serious bouts of busy-ness and then waiting and waiting and waiting again until those rare moments of exhilaration when things go particularly right. Everyone wants to make the day-- accomplish all the day's work before time runs out. Since any moment may require your attention, even after hours of nothingness, you can never venture too far from the flock.

Sometimes, you'll get into deep conversations with people and just as mysteriously, one of you will abandon (with a call on the radio) or else you'll just stop talking for no particular reason and go back to your book or your crossword. I have a standard activity kit in my backpack for such occasions. It's not too different from the activity kits any parent has packed for their kid before a long car trip. I have books, magazines, my ipod/charger, notebooks, paper/pencils, etc. Anything you might bring for a long journey. I even taught myself to crochet which has proved useful.

No matter what you end up doing during those long stretches of nothingness, you'll eventually start wandering around the set (i.e. island.) The thing you have to remember is: You're never entirely sure what's real and what's not:

Is this a real wall?

Oh, whoops-- there is no longer a way into this room that used to exist.

So, that's where they put the dummy body for the morgue...

You'll find books with real hardcovers and no text inside, notebooks with blank pages. Calculators that look good, but don't work. I was doing some artwork on-set and was elated to find a huge box of glue sticks-- exactly what I needed. The problem? Even the ones still wrapped in plastic were completely dried out and useless.