I wanted to shake up my life and go sailing (or learn on the job, so-to-speak) so headed to Florida to crew on a catamaran. This is about how it went or, rather, didn't - and my life since. Hopefully it will lead to a catamaran on the clear aqua blue waters of the Caribbean Sea, watching the sunset, a coconut rum and coke in hand. You must START AT THE BEGINNING of the blog, April 2009, to get the whole story...

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


It's been a very interesting first week on the set of this show.

I can't say too much about what we are filming because I don't want to give away the story. But I can say that the weather has been fabulous, although frustrating for our D.P. [Director of Photography] with clear skies and sunshine every day - they prefer cloud cover for lighting purposes. We have done a lot of the outdoor scenes and so having good weather was just what we needed.

We spent two days shooting at the B.C. parliament buildings here in Victoria. We did a lot of scenes outside and then moved inside for more. The inside of the building is spectacular and was a perfect backdrop for a good portion of our interior Harvard University scenes. Most of where we shot I had seen years ago when we took our kids on a tour while on vacation. A good home-schooling opportunity. But when we filmed a scene that took place in the library, we went into an area that the public don't get to visit. It was the library for the MLA's [Members of the Legislative Assembly] and it is nothing short of breathtaking. The hall where you enter is a small rotunda and the walls, floor and pillars are made entirely of Italian marble. There are four balconies with velvet draped windows high above and two large rooms lead off of each side of the hall. One contains all of the files for the Dewey Decimal System cards that they still use. The other room contained a few shelves of ancient volumes and had a fireplace with chairs and a long, lamp lit table to read at. Both rooms were clad entirely in rich, dark wood paneling that had 3D carvings in a lighter wood of swags of fruit and flowers indigenous to B.C. hanging across the fireplace mantle and down pillars throughout the room. The books are all housed on the second floor, which we did not get to go see but could be seen through the windows in the hall just under the ceiling of the rotunda.

The role the Dean of Harvard, was played by Kim Zimmer who is a long time cast member of Guiding Light, a soap opera. She was delightful and a perfect casting choice. Professionals such as she make my job so much easier! Although, I have to say that most of this cast, and definitely the 2 leads, are seasoned professionals. They know how to repeat their actions at the same time every take, which is something many actors can't seem to do. It's important otherwise the editor is limited in his choices for cutting the film together. Many actors lose their best take because the continuity rendered it unusable - something I tell those who seem to have the most difficulty, and that often gets them to be more deliberate in their movements.

The week has not been without it's problems. I have had trouble getting paperwork I needed from the production office. When there are script revisions the AD generates paperwork related to scheduling and continuity that reflects those changes and I need that paperwork to do my job. Usually it shows up on set in an envelope with my name on it without me asking for it. It's just known that I need it and so it arrives. On this show, that doesn't happen. So I write an email to the production manager's assistant asking for hard copies to be sent to me as I can't print off the files they emailed me because I don't have a printer with me. They don't arrive. So I call and ask for them. I am told the AD trailer at the circus has them. So I talk to the 3rd AD and ask for them and she tells me they don't have them. So I ask if they can call the office and have them sent over to me. She does and they still don't arrive. It is now day 3 of shooting and I don't have paperwork that is vital to my job. That means that I get asked three or four questions today that I can't answer. That makes me look bad and frustrates me. When I get home I send another email to the assistant and in cap's I ask them to send the paperwork. I add that I shouldn't have to ask, it should just come automatically but I have asked repeatedly for three days now. The next day the paperwork finally shows up on set. When I get home that night, there is an email from the Production Coordinator that is so unprofessional I am in shock. It has at least three personal attacks in it, he swears at me, and he passes blame for not sending me the paperwork. It really upsets me. I compose a reply, calmly explaining why I 'complained' about not getting paperwork. I also addressed some of his attacks on my person, and then sent it off. As I pushed 'send' I saw that he had CC'd the Production Manager. So I forward a copy of my reply to him.

Also, I got on the bad side of the Director of Photography when I tried to avert a huge continuity problem. He wanted the lead actress to change her shirt because it was the same color as the walls of the room we were shooting in. Wardrobe was notified and another shirt was on it's way but it was taking a long time because circus was so far away and transport were slow that day. The 1st AD wanted to start shooting the scene in the shirt she had on and then change her, and continue shooting; a totally absurd directive. It has been my experience that, even though I will make a clear notation that a take is no good for continuity, it will often get used anyway. I can think of the worst example of that happening to me that resulted in an actor in sunglasses suddenly having none for a close-up, and then they were back on for the wide. If we change shirts during a scene, the editors probably won't use takes with both shirts as that would be a very obvious continuity issue, but they might use the takes with first shirt and then, when we see her again, she will be in the second shirt for the rest of the scenes that take place on that day and that will be a continuity problem as she is leaving for a flight in this scene and won't have had an opportunity to change before arriving at her destination. So I put a stop to it by talking to the two executive producers who are always at the village watching the filming. They jump out of their chairs to go inside the house and talk to the AD. The DP is furious with me and accuses me of 'stirring the pot'. I reply that I am just doing my job. He yells at me, as he walks away, to 'stop stirring the pot' again. I am somewhat mystified at his response as he is the one who started it all by saying the shirt she has on is no good. Apparently, despite a lot of arm waving and yelling about needing any shirt as long as it isn't blue, white or skin toned, suddenly the blue one is ok. I had no idea. And the wardrobe has no idea because they show up with an orange shirt and how he's pissed off about that. He doesn't want to have to color time orange.

Anyway, from that moment on, he makes sure that he is physically blocking my view so that I have to crane my neck to see even a sliver of the monitors. At one point a producer notices I can't see so changes seats with me as she has a wide open view to the screens. I am not in her seat for 10 minutes before the DP notices I have switched places and so moves to block my view again. It's very frustrating.

On the last day of the week, we set up for a scene in a ladies restroom. I have done many restroom scenes and they usually look like a dogs breakfast. They are very hard to light and just not an interesting room to look at. This time though, it looks great. The lighting with the colors of the room, tan and aqua, looks really, really good. I say as much to the director and attribute it to 'the magic and artistry of lighting'. When the DP returns to the monitors to check his work, the director tells him what I said. From that point on, he lets me see the monitors and actually talks to me and includes me in some of his conversations. A huge improvement that will make the rest of this show a lot easier on me.

Today is my day off. I can't remember when I have needed a weekend so badly. I am just exhausted and my back is not doing well at all. The PM gave me a brand new blow-up mattress to use. He didn't have a pump for it so I asked props if they had one I could use. They gave me a small compressor that plugs into the lighter of the car. When I got home, I tried to use it to inflate the mattress but couldn't get more than 5psi out of it. This was going to take forever. So I went inside, opened a bottle of Strongbow, and sat in the living room with Tana and blew it up by mouth. Whenever I ran out of air, I'd take a break, have some Strongbow and chat a bit, and then get back to blowing. It took two hours. But boy was it worth it. I dragged it upstairs and remade the bed with it on top of the foam base. When I fell into bed a few minutes later, it felt like sleeping on a cloud. I dropped off right away.

Today I have a list of things I need to get done. First and foremost, cash my advance cheque that they gave all of us on the first day of shooting. I haven't ever had a producer do that before and I was so grateful as I was down to my last twenty dollars. Because my credit union shut down my account when I went bankrupt, I don't have a bank account anywhere. I didn't open one up because I had no idea where I am going to be living; Kelowna or Langley. Also, I think you have to have some money to put into a new account and I didn't have any. So I have used Money Mart twice to cash a couple of small cheques I got for proof reading scripts. Then I have to pay my cell phone bill. I find close-by locations for both by looking online and then get ready to head out. I need a few small items from the store and we have been invited to a party that the transport guys are throwing at their house tonight so I need to pick up a bottle of wine or some beer to take.

I get all of that done in a few hours so I have a bit of time to put my feet up and read.

We decide that I will drive the makeup girls and the two wardrobe assistants will take their own car. The three of us don't want to stay too late. I will be the designated driver, as I don't like to drink much... one or two is plenty for me. We bring along Marjorie's GPS as the map the guys gave us has the names of streets in such tiny writing, none of us can read it. When we get in the car and underway, we realize that we don't have an actual address, just directions. The girls figure it out and get a destination plugged in, and we are on our way.

It's MILES out. We are well and truly in the sticks, on a long and windy road through forest, fields and hills. There is no cell reception for any of us. Why production would get a house for crew so far away from where we are shooting is a mystery to everyone. But when we finally arrive, the property is gorgeous. The house is nestled up in the trees and a lush green lawn leads down to a small lake. There are stone steps leading down from the lawn to a dock with a couple of lawn chairs and a diving board. It's beautiful.

Cam, the head of transport, is East Indian and he has spent all day cooking. He has a huge pot of butter chicken on the stove and pile of rice in a large bowl on the counter. He tells us to help ourselves and we do. It's amazing. The sauce is spicy and the chicken melts in my mouth. I haven't had much of an appetite these last five days, eating barely a fifth of the food that catering put on my plate every day. Three forkfuls of this chicken, and I am feeling the same way but I can't bare the thought of throwing it away and it tastes so good that I force myself to finish everything on my plate. The guys have also cooked hamburgers, hot dogs and corn on the cob on the grille outside. They keep asking us if we want any but there is no way I could eat another bite - even though the corn looks so tempting. I don't know what's the matter with me but I just don't feel myself internally. Something's wrong and I have no idea what it is. Maybe it's just the back pain that's messing me up.

The guys have gone all out. There is a new garbage can on the deck full of ice water and is stuffed with beer and Strongbow. There's wine, rum and vodka inside with all the mixers. They bought a new stereo for the garden so there would be music outside as well as in [and it's playing - LOUD]. The whole crew was invited. So far five of us have shown up; the girls from our house. The guys seem disappointed about it and I don't blame them. The two wardrobe assistants get up and start dancing to the music and some of the guys join in. A couple of them are really good dancers. One guy, also East Indian, is amazing. Tana and Marjorie eventually join them and they start to bug me to join in. I tell them I have to have a few drinks in me before I will dance. But I eventually get up and sort of dance. I am far too self conscious to get into it though, and I am not wearing the right clothes to feel good dancing so I go outside to join some people out there.

I am near the counter with all the alcohol on it when I notice a square silver box, about 5 inches on each side and half an inch thick. I pick it up and whatever is inside is advertised as 'thin, strong, and sensitive'. My eyebrows shoot up. What exactly do these guys have planned for the evening? I open it up to peek inside and chuckle when I see the spool of fishing line nestled there. I show it to Tana and we share a good laugh over it. Who knew that fishing line needed to be sensitive?

Eventually the second AD shows up with our two lead cast members, Drew and Britt. Britt gets into socializing right away but Drew takes a plate of the butter chicken and a beer and goes to sit at the bottom of the garden looking out over the, now dark, lake. Tana asks me where he is after a bit, and I point down to the end of the lawn. She asks me why he's down there alone and I say I think maybe he is texting his girlfriend as I saw a phone in his hand, I think. After a bit I wander down there to check out the hot tub and to see if he's ok, and he is just enjoying the view to the lake. There are a few lights from houses across the way shining into the water, and the stars are very visible out here. We chat for a bit and he tells me that he is concerned about getting back into Victoria as they drove out here with the needle on empty before they even got going. I am dumbfounded. This is a long way out and there's not a gas station for miles. Britt has to catch a flight at 7 a.m. in the morning. Drew is really worried about being stuck out on the road with no cell phone service [so he wasn't texting] and I tell him that we have room in my car and he can come back with us. He seems grateful. I tell him that we don't plan on staying much longer, if that's okay with him. He say's that's fine. He'd rather go home early than be out on the road in the dark with no one around for miles all night.

He goes up to talk to Britt and she doesn't want him to leave without her so he declines the ride back. I talk to the girls and we figure we can fit three in the tiny back seat as Britt is so small. There's only two seat-belts back there but it's better than being stuck in the middle of nowhere if the 3rd AD's car should run out of gas. So I make them the offer and they decide to come with us. We leave about 20 minutes later. We feel badly because there's no way to slip out like we had planned due to only 7 people showing up. The guys are good with it though and really appreciate that we made the effort to come out. I am glad I went. I almost didn't because of feeling so off.

We drive Drew and Britt to their hotel in downtown Victoria and then head back to our place. We all fall into bed pretty much as soon as we get in.
All photographs are mine and not to be copied without express permission from me (click on them to see the large version).
Some names have been changed to protect my butt.

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