Self tape club. It’s happening all over the world. So many tiny flats in big cities filled with personalities with big dreams. Little bubbles of friendship groups who help each other. The familiar phone call. “X casting director needs Z for Yday”. Usually it’s just a little scene, or two or three little scenes with a weekend turnaround. They come in on a Friday, they go out Monday morning. Fire and forget as often as not. It’s a chance to hang out with your friends.
I was in Camden today as the sun set over the HS2 station. I was in a flat with a very friendly cat. The room we used to use has been turned around and now has an occupant so we built into the living room. It’s involved. Two tripods to hold the screen, and then attach the screen. Two tripods to hold the lights and then open out the diffusers and screw in the bulbs, then adjust the “heat” of the light with white muslin and reflectors. One more tripod to hold the mobile phone. My friend is using a paid for apple app so can at least frame her own shot in the selfie camera. She’s learnt the lines, even though some friends of mine swear by paid for autocue apps (“It’s brilliant but it can be a shock if you get an in person recall!”) Three scenes. Short but learnt. The cat wanders as he pleases. Occasionally the new flatmate goes to the loo or talks loudly on the phone.
I find myself thinking back over the sheer volume of stuff I’ve learnt for these occasions. Scenes from all sorts of styles of story. Flashes of story from all over the world. Today we are in Scotland. My friend grew up there. My dad and most of my remaining family carry that idiom. I’m reading an ineffectual husband to my friends practical angry wife. “Let’s only do one or two takes per scene,” she says at the start which is a good shout as you can get unnecessarily mired in detail otherwise. Still it takes time. There are three scenes, one static, one mobile and one post coital. They need to feel different and the difference needs to feel considered, even if this is just a pitch. “Hi! I’m a human! I could be this human for you?!”
The sun goes down while we work. The end of the work blends with the beginning of conversation and reminiscence and gossip and friendship and I’m driving or we would likely share a bottle of wine but instead we find a local kebab shop and have it with chili sauce and I drive home hopeful that my friend will get the job, happy that I could help again, and ready once more to completely forget the whole experience just as the lines she learnt so well over the last few days will now slowly fall out of her memory unless she gets that happy daytime call from the agent…
It’s a strange thing, being mister pretendyface. It’s the best thing in the world when it works. The fellowship is extraordinary. Even last night as an example, to fit in to a 25 year old’s awesome house party without feeling like the creepy uncle. But… the unpredictability and the GAPS! Ugh. Something in March please, universe. Something in March would be really really nice.