Last week, I received an email, a phone call, and a text message, all from different sources, and all telling me that I was wanted for a film. A crew from Chicago was coming to this area to film a short, silent film on the last night in the the life of Meriwether Lewis, of the famed Corps of Discovery Expedition.
(They were the OTHER guys you saw in the Chris Farley film, "Almost Heroes.")
I answered the email, the phone call and the text, not necessarily in that order; and in no time at all, I was committed to the project, playing Lewis.
We began filming on Thursday morning. I drove over to the local historical site (Fort Abraham Lincoln, famed for being the last outpost of George Custer before he went up the river and met his fate.) There were eight of them; they looked tired from the drive from Chicago, and I looked tired from working all night. They were young looking, which fit well because they were young.
Working on a film if you've never done it before is different from anything else in my experience. Everything you were trained to bring from truth remains; but the things you were trained to tranmit at a certain volume now has to be very quiet. One moment does not necessarily lead to the NEXT moment; the NEXT moment may come two days later. And you need to be patient; they set it up, you get blocked, you run a rehearsal, you re-block and then you sit for an hour while all the lights and such get put into place.
I have a few observations on the experience.
This crew that came over from Chicago were some of the nicest people I've ever worked with. They never referred to me directly as 'the talent'; they always used my first name. They said 'please' and 'thank you' for everything. They were incredibly civil to each other, even in times of great stress (as when they were scrambling around the roof of a fort in order to get a shot before the sun set behind a hill they hadn't counted on, or when a boat went by as they filmed the lovely Missouri.). They laughed a lot. And each of them were so good at their individual assignments it was like watching a ballet.
I think I got better as the days progressed. The thinking processes were different, and it takes a bit of time to work the muscles into a kind of 'second nature' but it seemed to work. The director and the cinematographer were complimentary, but they could lack from a fundamental pool from which to compare...or, they were too tired to tell me that I sucked.
I do prefer the stage. But I do have a new-found respect for those that do that for a living. But I do think they get far too much money for it.
Now, I'm back at the desk, for another twenty-four-plus hour day, and then to bed.
I am hopeful that the finished product is what they want. I am not quite sure, however, if I wish to see it. I don't trust my image on the screen.
How was YOUR weekend?