Gonna be honest… I’m recycling a post here because I’m on travel and forgot to get this written in time. 😉 tee hee?
still… it’s a fun story.
You know how an iceberg is this impressive hunk of … uh… ice… that sticks out of the ocean? How the rest of the iceberg is WAY more massive, hiding below the water?
ANY artistic production is like that. Like, astounudingly like that. The average movie has that couple dozen or hundred on camera talent, including your friend from LA who is the plucky Barista that gives the main character her Latte before the Starbucks is sprayed with bullets. But forget those hundred, two hundred… FIVE hundred people. Think of the THOUSANDS of others. Production assistants, Directors of all stripes, sound and lighting engineers, carpentry shop, props, makeup, PR, catering, security… the list goes ON and ON.
Even our audiobooks are like that… there are like 5-10 production people on every book and only one of me. SO many people who make it all happen. Whenever I ponder that, I am viscerally pulled back to my first experience with the unsung heroes of any piece of media art.
I was 13 or 14 when my first brush with movie work happened. I took up the reins of filming and directing an ambitious private film project; made laboriously in the bedroom of my best friend Billy Sherman with the use of his Dad’s-Work’s-VHS Camera. (Later I’d get to play with SVHS, but ah, we were young and foolish)
We set about (in the snowy expanse of semi-suburban Maine in the late winter) to capture the agony, the pathos, the dramatic ennui that was:
… we MAY have been inspired by some other film franchise, I can’t comment.
With the help of a third stalwart friend so dear to my heart that I’ve completely forgotten his name, several sleds, a handful of snow-shovels, and a long weekend… we created myriad panoramic and close- up scenes, wherein our hero did… something exciting. I … really don’t recall what. It was VERY exciting tho, let me assure you.
The climactic scene was to be a sequence wherein our hero vanquishes his foe by… running him down with a sled. There was a close-up of my other friend the villain plotting his dastardly schemes, and then my friend Billy would triumphantly careen down the hill shouting an a’capella version of a rather famous theme song which will remain nameless, and run over the bad guy.
My plan was, that Billy would hit the ravine we’d crafted for the sled, and go along this shallow gully while … the other guy.. uh… look let’s just call him “Sean” since I don’t remember… while SEAN appeared to dive out of the way, and then, from just BEYOND the sled (from the camera’s view) as the hero passed “over” him, flail his legs in the air as though he had been squashed like a laconic possum.
Forced Perspective in the nascent 90’s.
Eat your heart out Peter Jackson.
The plan? Worked FREAKING PERFECTLY if I do say so myself. Billy hit the hill, ran along the shallow ravine, at the appointed moment Sean flailed and made a valiant attempt at the Wilhelm Scream, and roll credits.
We wrapped. We edited. Cutting and splicing by dint of using a VCR and the camera, we assembled the footage, pausing only for Union-mandated mini pizzas… and finally the masterpiece was ready. We assembled Billy’s family in the living room, and the tape rolled. Billy’s parents and little sister watched, and were effusive in their praise of the actor’s delivery of lines, their poise, their ability at physical stunts.
“… Wait a minute.” thought “What about the steadiness of the camera work? WHAT about the artful framing of the shots? What about the pacing? The DIALOGUE for Christ’s sake?! I wrote that!” Well… half of it anyway. A damn big chunk.”
Then? At last: The Pivotal Scene. The raison d’film.
The epic sled-squishage-finale.
The close-up ran. The villain schemed. Billy came sweeping in from the hill, and the flailing happened… “Wow,” Said Billy’s dad, patting Sean on the arm.”That looked REALLY good!” … I couldn’t help it. I smiled winningly at him and said “Thank you! I was really hoping the placement would look right, and I’m pleased!”
And Billy’s dad looked at me with new appreciation.”HERE” his eyes said”Is a boy with boldness” He smiled at me and said the words I will always remember:
“Well… I was talking about the actors.”
Ah, apparently he was thinking “ballsiness” not”boldness” Alas.
My days behind the camera, were over. I tried my hand at the stage… in a couple of student art pieces… and then finally found myself in voice work. Perhaps I wasn’t meant to be ON camera regardless. BUT. I think about that somewhat regularly, and always with a great and abiding appreciation for the directors, writers, grips and crew who so rarely get any mention at all. Without them, LITERALLY nothing of performing art would be made. NOTHING.
At plays, I clap loudest for the tech people, and I pay attention to the credits in movies for that second best boy, the grip, the electrician. I may not remember their names, but I remember that the film exists because they were there.
But, if I am honest? What I really want to do…. Is ACT. 😉