Shoot

I just spent the evening in Barnehurst talking to a countess. She’d been robbed. As an officer in the US army it was important for me to put her mind at rest. “We will get to the bottom of this, ma’am,” I assured her, slowly, channeling my Clooney.

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This is my second day on set with this crew and they’re wonderfully efficient in a haphazard way. I was supposed to wrap at 3am, and was contemplating a long trip home, with another all nighter to follow. It’s not even 11pm and I’m on a train to Victoria. Many people would’ve kept me until 3 anyway, “Just in case.” It’s happened loads. “We might need you in the back of shot.” I’m very used to being kept on until wraptime even though I know I’ll not be needed. It’s when I’m booked to. They’re getting their money’s worth. Nevertheless it’s delightful to work with people who spend the time while they shoot, and then are confident they have what they need, and human enough to know what it means to get off early. Particularly on a night shoot, to be wrapped while the trains are still running is great.

Although the downside is I don’t get a car, which is usually standard in both directions. This is low budget though. No such luxury. Although it’s always struck me as a little indulgent. It’s lovely when the doorbell rings at 4am and you know you can look at your lines in the back, just as it’s lovely to get taken home after a night shoot. But for normal start and end times it feels closer to indulgence. But at this level it’s a rare luxury. I’m essentially slumming it. I guess I have to keep slumming it until people catch on I’m here again. (Yes I’m being glib. Although there is some loose truth in it…)

I’ve been clinging onto the bottom of the net for years. Now I’m trying to clamber my way back up past the entangled bodies, linking arms with the survivors above and below me, the ones who have almost slipped through but are still clinging. Together we can stay in this net that we might otherwise have slipped through. And then we can be gutted and cooked and put in a pie. Like we’ve always wanted.

As with most filming it’s mired in secrecy. I haven’t signed an NDA yet but it’s likely that’s because the producer hasn’t gotten round to putting the printout in my hand. So I can’t be too specific about detail.

It was an odd situation today, in that an American woman was playing an aristocrat and speaking in a version of my native accent, while I was sitting opposite her equally murdering her native accent. I don’t think either of us flinched visibly, which is a feat in close up.

We sat opposite each other for about an hour all said. We played the same scene over and over again as the camera looked at our hands, our props, the backs of our heads, our shadows, our lips our eyes. They have plenty of time allocated per short scene. They can get all the angles. At the end of the hour, we changed back into our own clothes and went our separate ways home. We said goodbye. I don’t think I can remember her name, I’d be surprised if she remembered mine. But this long forgotten footage will outlive both of our corporeal bodies. It’ll sit in a dusty server somewhere, or in a forgotten archive online, until the fire comes and this human experiment finally runs its bitter course.

Meanwhile my brother was speaking at the launch of the new main hall of The Natural History Museum this evening. He was hanging out with royalty. He had a chat with Kate, and David Attenborough. While I was in a semi derelict hospital pretending to be an American soldier.

This decision I made all those years ago, when he decided to be a scientist. It seemed so logical at the time. “I’m an actor. That’s what I am.” Now I can’t quite fathom it. I still agree with the little tyrant. I’m still so happy when I work that it makes the gaps in between worthwhile waiting. But I still struggle to make peace with the lack of consistency – financially as much as for my own happiness. Rib or no rib I want to be working. But you can’t always get what you want.

Won’t stop most of us trying though, will it? Onwards.

Author: albarclay

This blog is a work of creative writing. Do not mistake it for truth. All opinions are mine and not that of my numerous employers.

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