on making a movie…

My breathing must have stopped for a split second when she said that, as I was trying to figure out how not to ruin the movie.

“right, now let’s do it again with a close-up on Simon, and then with a close-up on Ray”.

Umhh… I thought to myself… how do you “do it again” when you’ve been improvising…?

I (playing the role of Ray) had just completed the first shoot of the first scene together with Simon… and this being my first movie, I wasn’t really aware that we would shoot the same scene a few times from different angles and distances… hence the need to do it again… and to actually remember what I did the previous time!

Well, with a little help from the crew and Simon, we did do it again (twice in close up) and again (twice from a distance) and once more because the camera’s exposure was not set right.

And this is where you quickly notice how important the continuity people are – we had to share a ciggie, and each time we shot the scene, we needed a new one – which means that the length of the ciggie might not have been the same in each case…

and what about my leg? Did I have it up when I said that last line, or was it on the floor?

What words did I use the last time, did I mention the relatives before the suburb or the other way around…?

Anyway… not long after you have a few minutes where the cameras are being re-set, more film loaded or the light reading taken. There are lots of moments that are “dead” for the actors… it was in such a moment that I suddenly realized we were doing one of those funny things that you see actors do in the ‘behind-the-scenes’ snippets you see – you know the ones: where the actors are making jokes or pulling a gag on each other. It wasn’t planned at all – just part of a fun crowd having a laugh in that zone between being-in-character and reality… 

2 days later…

Yesterday I got to Malmesbury at 11 in the morning, for my shoot with my ‘other baby’ my car 

By noon I was in full make-up, and my hair had been straightened and sprayed… I was looking the part. It was 30 degrees outside, we were sitting under a Syringa Tree… and sneezing. Like never before – you may as well call it the Hayfever Tree! In a crew of about 15, only 1 did not have the nose-tickle… and remember that I’d had my make-up done already, so that needed touching up before shooting as well…

But that wasn’t to happen for another 3 and a half hours… the owner of the car was at lunch in the city, and now wouldn’t be back till mid-afternoon… the older ladies for the street scene shot needed to finish lunch first… luckily I’d been warned by a friend of mine, and I’d come prepared with book, newspaper and laptop. Still, a little tedious at the time…

So it was about 4 by the time I got in front of the camera; and after a quick change of the way things were to happen (the car itself was too noisy to do the talking-while-driving shot that was planned) we started rolling. A bit more ad-libbing about the car and how I love it, and then… then I got to drive her… a gold 1970 V8 5 litre Ford Fairlane… what a beauty… a real highlight! And well worth waiting for…

Later I went for a bite to eat with some dear friends… and they didn’t recognize me! That’s how good the hair had been done!

Sunday dawns
Day 4 of the 5 day shoot – and I get told I need to be at the studio by about 1pm. I only get told this an hour beforehand, but it’s not a train-smash…

A very realistic set was created to represent our lounge for the interviews, and we all got into role and delivered our lines… first a quick rehearsal and then on film (a ‘take’). One scene was so hilarious – we’re sitting on the couch, we do our thing… the camera is rolling… we come to the end… the director says “cut” and instantly, but instantly, loud laughter erupts from every mouth in the dark, silent hall around us. The crew – all watching and/or working, of course – had to hold in their giggles and guffaws until the filming had stopped… of the main camera anyway 

More to follow…

For a german perfectionist this can all be quite nerve-wracking if you let it be… but you just gotta know that it’s OK to fluff up once or twice. Not that we really did… which is good I suppose!

I did discover one of life’s little ironies today though: it looks like the premiere of this film will happen in a little over a month – on the day I arrive in Timbuktu… what a choice – arrive in Timbuktu or attend your film premiere… oh boy…

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