Set day

A day filming outside, in autumn, in Cornwall, for a scene set in summer.

Miracles happen. We wrapped before 6. This was mostly achieved by only having a couple of goes at every angle, and only really going back if something wasn’t functioning for lighting. It’s useful to know your craft enough to be able to ask for another one if you are certain that you’ve done it atrociously. Nobody on a set like this is looking at the actors performances – they’ll break the shot for light or sound but rarely for flub. I was comforted that an actor with much bigger chops than me turned in a perfect performance in the reverse and then as soon as the camera was on him he chose to do-over a few times mid shot. Film work is a bit like prep at boarding school. Everybody pretends to do no prep and then show up knowing everything. Everybody is secretly working hard and not letting on. The only person who suffers is the person who believes that nobody else is working and cuts back on their own work. It’s an unusual discipline, filming. You get no rehearsal. You can’t break into the lines softly. You work on your own beforehand and when you get on set you fucking know it and know it and know it and if you don’t know it you fuck the whole day up and loads of people you have never even been introduced to secretly think you’re a bit of a tit.

The actress and I both knew it today and there was play. It’s her first job at this level, and you wouldn’t know it. Playful, responsive and confident. It was mostly a two hand scene, first thing, lots of movement catalysed by her character. I was supposed to have an old fashioned bicycle, but somehow that joy was axed at the last minute before I arrived on set. For that, my eyes are on the very dour art department lady. She barely even trusted me to lean on a table. “An actor on a bicycle? Impossible. Actors cannot safely and consistently ride bicycles.”

Another old pointless war, between the person with “crew” written on the back of their shirt and the notional “talent”. I have so many shirts with “crew” written on the back of them that I likely could have predicted her exact sentence when she came up to tell me I couldn’t put my weight on the table when I was holding my weight in my legs because I’d already had that thought. Artifice comes in many guises but it takes a deeper craft to be able to see it across the table. Art department was brilliant today. They made a very British scene. But as is often the case, they couldn’t see the performers for who they were.

I’m having a lovely time. I always do, on set. I need three sleeps though to be utterly satisfied I know it, but that’s to do with my particular work ethic. I knew it but I could’ve made more space for freedom.

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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