Tuesday, 15 July 2008

How To Explore Acting

July 10th marked my one month anniversary with Jill and we went out to a nice restaurant in Richmond to celebrate. Not wanting to upset her Mum by getting her home late – having recently missed a bus transfer and adding half an hour to the journey! – I decided that we should aim to arrive back at her house by around 9pm for a few brownie points and also to ensure that it wasn’t our last ever date! The food was excellent and the evening was really nice.

In the taxi back to her house, I received a phone call (which I would have missed if we had not been aiming to get home earlier than usual) from my Uncle (who insists that I call him Ron) inviting me to a film shoot in White Rock. I have been interested in short films for a long time and have also wanted to work on a set for a while to see how it all goes.

Told that I would be doing some “grip” work (odd-jobs) and a few scenes as an extra, I accepted the offer and began to work out how I’d manage my day – having to be back in Richmond before the filming was likely to finish due to having a party to go to in the evening, via limousines from a friend’s house.

Half an hour later I got another call, from Ron again, inviting me to one of the “Bard on the Beach” shows – a local Shakespeare festival - which I had also declared interest in a few times. The show (“Titus Andronicus”) was the following evening and would be my last chance to see a “Bard on the Beach” play this year – having missed opportunities earlier in the summer as well as last year when I visited Vancouver after summer camp.

The next evening I was picked up by Ron and we drove through Vancouver to English Bay, where Bard on the Beach is set up– a group of white pavilions with red flags on top. Ron (an actor - addicted to Shakespeare!) had already seen “King Lear” and “The Tempest”, and although “Titus...” was considered to be one of Shakespeare’s worst scripts (I was informed just before we arrived as Ron tried to run me through the confusing plot line and numerous main characters!)

Although the play was interesting and quite violent, I fell asleep (running around with kids for two weeks beginning to tire me out!) before the halfway point and despite a large coffee during the intermission, didn’t take in much of the second half either – although I did keep my eyes open! I remember being quite impressed by some of the actors that had given pretty believable performances - including a few of the villains and Titus’ daughter.

The next day I awoke early (despite a late night where I had nearly passed out with tiredness more than once!) and with a feeling of anticipation, made the journey to White Rock with Ron. The first set of the day was a cafĂ© that had a bar. As well as the bar scene (with the extras at the tables in the background), they also decided to use the downstairs office as the main character’s booth in his workplace.

The director of the film, Jason Goode, is one of Ron’s friends through Pacific Theatre – the company that Ron (currently Artistic Director) founded 25 years ago! I first met Jason when the three of us went to see “There Will Be Blood” and I have since seen him act at Pacific Theatre, in a few plays.


This was the first time I'd ever seen a real clapperboard - hopefully not the last!

After exploring the set for a little while, I was asked if I could be the body double for the lead actor, whilst they set up the lighting and camera, so that he wasn’t in the same position for a long time. I decided that this was a really cool idea that would let me see first hand how everything worked on a set and I sat patiently as they moved props, lighting, cameras and people around me – jokingly referring to myself as the lead stunt double!

In the end I did much more “stunt double” and “extra” work than “grip” work and instead enjoyed the opportunity to see every side of the filming – from the directing to the script-checker watching each shot on a TV and taking notes.

To cap the weekend of acting, I went with Jill on the Sunday to see her friend Rosa (who I had met a few times before) perform in a youth production of “As you like it” at the “Bard on the Beach” location. At the event and the buffet afterwards I met most of Jill’s closest friends and got along with them.

Having outlined a few ideas for short films in the last six months on my laptop – landscaping work giving me plenty of time to exercise creativity – I am now aware of some of the steps to take towards making the films a reality. As the years go on I will edit these ideas significantly but one day I may have my own short film – another “Bucket List” goal now that I can tick off “Be an extra in a film”.

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