Thursday, October 7, 2010

Bizarre Movie Shoot

REALLY bizarre movie shoot.

So Grant Wilfley called me on Tuesday for a shoot yesterday. Be in Long Island City at 6 am Wednesday. And LIC, God help us, happens to be what SAG calls "in the zone." In layman's terms, this location bus.

Up I drag myself at 3 am. Out the door at 4:30 am. On the N train by 5 am. And at Queensboro Plaza by about 5:30 am.

Frankly, I defy anybody who doesn't live in Queens to follow the directions we were given, which were (I know, because I dutifully wrote them down), go to the Five Star Indian Banquet Restaurant at 13-05 43rd Avenue, between 21st Street and 13th Street. Um, WHAT? This is one of those peculiar addresses that only exists in Queens. In case you ever find yourself having to do this, I will be the first to tell you that there are no people, no lights, and no nothing at 5:30 am in Queens. Luckily, a block away I saw a street with all kinds of unoccupied taxis racing down it. UNluckily, as I soon discovered, they were all deadheading in from the airport and heading back to Manhattan, because I had to stop six of them before I found a driver who knew anything about Queens.

Well, I got to holding on time and we shot stuff under the train lines. Then we were told, okay, now we're all going to Times Square. Oh. We are? This little detail wasn't mentioned before, but okay, why not. So we piled into the picture cars (they hire people to work with their cars on various shoots, because you can't depend on actual traffic to move when you need it).

So we get to Times Square JUST in time to shoot during the lunch rush. As I think I've mentioned before, after my nice quiet Boardwalk set, this shooting right in the middle of the immediate world tends to be annoying. You have to spend so damn much time clearing the civilians out of the way.

We shot most of the scene, went to the midtown holding on 46th, and had a nice lunch. Then we finished up there, and were told that the vans were coming and we were now off to 34th Street. Well, to begin with, those damn vans should have been at the subway station first thing in the morning, and we were all fairly pissed off that there were suddenly vans to take us from 49th to 34th (and some of us are planning to lodge a complaint with SAG).

Once the scene on 34th was explained to us, the whole shebang suddenly rocketed into complete and total insanity. This was the first day of shooting on a movie called Safe, which stars a guy named Jason Stathorn, who seems to be quite hot as an action type character. Awfully nice. Very British. Anyway, the powers that be had decreed that the shot was going to be some sort of guerilla filmmaking/cinema verite stuff, where two production people and two handheld cameras would be on 34th Street right opposite Macy's. We 12 or so background people were to form a flying wedge around Jason to protect him from unwanted civilian types.

This was the nuttiest thing I have ever done on film. (I have done many, MANY nutty things in my life, but I've never gotten paid for them before.)

We got out on 34th Street and the production guys, Steve and Brad, organized us into our wedge shape. We then proceeded to stand in this odd arrangement in the middle of the sidewalk across from Macy's for about 40 minutes while we waited for Jason and his stand-in Chris to appear. You simply have no conception of how idiotic you feel standing like this in the middle of the damn sidewalk for 40 minutes. After a while, we started playing around...we'd all look up, for instance, with varying degrees of horror and prurient interest on our faces. This achieved nothing at all, because everybody on 34th at 5:30 pm is either running for a train or to catch a sale, but it amused us for a while.

Well, eventually Chris the stand-in arrived, and we all started marching up and down the street in formation. Yeah. Right. Have you ever noticed how deeply focused New Yorkers are when they're trying to get somewhere? They were shoving us out of the way, intent on their Blackberries and train schedules...

Then Jason arrived, and evidently he's something special, because suddenly people got interested...and it all got MUCH worse. We're supposed to be keeping these people out of the way, but really, when some little girl leaps out in front of the poor guy and flashes a phone camera in his face...I just don't see myself tackling a 14 year old. And some ditzy broad thought it would be great fun, despite all our reasonably discreet closing of ranks, to insinuate herself right in the middle of our flying wedge...oh, and did I mention the lady in the red outfit who wanted to dance with us?

I have never been so tired in my life. Whoever dreamed up this nutsy shoot should Preferably in three locations in one day. Starting at 5:30 am in Queens.

Love, Wendy

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