If you’ve been hanging around here a while, you may have noticed I’ve been pretty quiet for the last several weeks.
That’s basically because I haven’t had a second to think much less blog a single thing while my movie was shooting. Just writing that makes me think I have somehow stumbled into someone else’s life. I can’t get over how lucky I feel and how professionally gratified and just … well. Lucky. Lucky. Lucky. (I am uncharacteristically short of words to describe this feeling but hey, it’s been a long month and I am EXHAUSTED, so there you go.)
Here are a few things I really DO want to say about the last month, however, so even if this post is a bit of a mess, here they are:
- It is in no way usual or normal or even remotely pro forma that I got to spend the last month on the set of my movie. That’s because, in all honestly, “my movie” is nothing of the sort. I’m just a writer on the movie. Once it’s written, it’s the director’s movie, and most directors don’t want writers coming anywhere near them during production. In this case, the director happened to be my co-writer, and we’ve had a pretty great thing going since we started writing together, and he wanted me on set. For this I am intensely grateful as I haven’t really been on a movie set since I was a PA in my early 20s, and when you’re a PA you learn about, well, nada. Zilch. You’re too busy running errands and picking up dog poop. This time around, however, I got to sit next to the monitors and hang out with the producer and chat with the script supervisor and I learned A TON about movie making. I mean, really – I feel like I got a complete film school education in 22 days.
- If you are old like me: 4 am call times are WAY BETTER than 4 pm call times. I had no problem hauling my ass to set at 4 am, knowing that 12-ish hours later I’d be heading home. What killed me was the night shoots, and the splits. This might have something to do with the fact that when you have kids, and you work until 4 am, you go home and get to sleep about … 90 minutes till the kids wake you up again. NOT. FUN. AT. ALL. Granted, that’s basically the only time your kids will ever SEE you – most days I was out the door before they woke up and home after they went to sleep. In case you think your kids will just roll with this sort of behavior, let me tell you what Gaga thought of the whole situation the one night I WAS home before her bedtime:
Mom, are you ever sleeping in Daddy’s bed again, or are you moving in with (the director)?
Meanwhile Diddy stopped doing her homework and the boys COMPLETELY stopped sleeping through the night.
- I am married to the best man EVER (no really, EVER) and he handled the chaos with some pretty heavy aplomb all month. Even some grace. And if four kids and several massive home renovations hadn’t already proved the strength and extraordinary resilience of my marriage, my first movie went and rammed the point right home. I mean, come on, how many of you can say your husband does THIS for you the first day of a big new job?
- If you are in the process of writing a movie with kids in it – STOP. No really. RIGHT NOW. Either age that kid up to 19 or write her COMPLETELY out of the story because holy god are kids a problem on a movie set. Especially in California, where we have a labor board that is as protective of minors as a bureaucratic agency can possibly be. This is, of course, a good thing if you are a minor. It is a TERRIBLE thing if you are a movie production attempting to work with minors, as the amount of time a kid can work every day is really not amenable to the amount of time a director NEEDS that kid to work every day. Our movie had a bunch of kids in it. Including one of mine. Don’t do that, either – DO NOT CAST YOUR KID IN A MOVIE. It’s just too stressful protecting your child while also trying to protect the artistic integrity of your movie at the same time.
- On kid actors: Some kids have it. They just do. Gaga absolutely does. It was nuts. I would teach her her lines in the car on the way to set and not only would she learn them, she’d question the cue lines, sometimes RE-WRITE the cue lines, and ask for context, too. (She was four when we started and turned five during this process.) She was not into rehearsals and is a wiggle worm at the best of times, but the moment the AD called “Action” she sold it. In spades. It was nuts. AND I WILL ABSOLUTELY NEVER LET HER DO THIS AGAIN. She spent the time between takes glued to an iPad and stealing candy off the craft service table and listening to people tell her how special and cute and smart she is. This is just not healthy for any kid. Ever. So if you’re considering signing your kid up for a life of this, I would just like to VERY VERY NICELY encourage you to re-think that. Remember how I said all my kids would be in the movie? I changed my mind about that pretty darn quick and so Diddy got a nice little cameo towards the end but I never even brought the boys on set.
- Despite the candy on the craft service table (which I still maintain was stolen from my private stash in the fridge on our third set and NOT in fact purchased from Smart & Final): You don’t HAVE to gain fifteen pounds at craft service. I, for instance, lost 8. This had something to do with my refusing to give up my seat at the monitors for a single MINUTE (first rule of set club: don’t abandon chair as you will never get your ass in it again) so I basically never ate. I now think making a movie is a great way to diet.
Gonna do my best to diet like that again and again and again …