“Ow, I just got cactus in my thumb,” says Madge at half past ten at night in a car park in Peckham. She’s been designing a music video that shot today. I like that people are still shooting music videos. It’s comforting.
This morning I dropped all their stuff off. The director showed up in a brand new shiny white (Enterprise?) Nissan as I was unloading. He was wearing a Hermes scarf on his head. “Is that Hermes?” I asked, flaunting my new found knowledge, but choosing Greek God pronunciation. “I’m sorry?” He responded, despite hearing me clearly. “Is that Hermes?” I ask, this time pretending it’s French. “Ah. Yes,” he says, very slightly posing before his eyes slide off me. Thankfully all I’m doing is dropping off and picking up. The other guys will have to work with this plum all day.
I drove home to write more accent softening phrases. I have to keep restraining myself from writing sweary ones. I’ve pretty much done the lot now. Many hours, and not particularly fun, but you get your kicks where you can. I got mine by going to Gatsby with an old friend. He’s a theatre producer, and used to run a pub space in Kentish town. I did my last ever ridiculously low paid acting work there – well over a decade ago. That was the job where I finally quit smoking forever, because I was about to spend my last cash on fags instead of on three days worth of food.
It’s also the job where I swore off working for fuck all, or “experience” or any of those shenanigans. I used to have romantic notions about “Apprentice, Journeyman, Master” in terms of craft building and progression, but in reality you’re better off walking into a room chin first and announcing how amazing you are with no basis at all than you are than trying to persuade most of the people holding the purse strings to come and see you in a restoration comedy above a pub. “Oh God no he’s a free actor,” I once heard someone say about a guy I knew who was slogging his guts for the price of a beer in some forsaken church hall in the precise hopes that that precise person would consider him for the precise job they’d just dismissed him for.
So yeah, I stopped that shit. But had I never done it I wouldn’t know George. And now, years later, he might be building something interesting in outdoor spaces for actual money. I wanted him to see Gatsby because it’s my jam and my people. It just gets better and better, and he was using the word immersive. I loved it tonight. It’s still growing, three years into the run. No stagnation with this sort of work. Years of “You know that moment… There’s something not quite landing. How about if we try x” and it’s really showing. It’s a beautiful strange web, skillfully played and controlled by a surprisingly small group of actors. The only downside is, I bet they’re completely exhausted when it comes down. Hard to activate your daytime when you’re expending that much energy every night. I applaud them though. It just flies out.
I didn’t get to see the end. The call came and I had to get back in the van to pack up at the end of the shoot. Shame. I’d have liked to see how they handle it when the darkness falls, and heard them all sing together.
I got back to Greenwich.
“How was the director?” I asked Madge.
No surprises there.