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, October 21, 2009


I replaced my rolly bag, the one with the separated lining. This one is holding together great.

We are done with the house in Maple Ridge and after a day of shooting in Langley, and a day in Richmond, the rest of the shoot will be in Vancouver.

The day in Richmond is at a church and we have just two scenes for the whole day, but one of them is 4 pages long with a lot of emotional dialogue for our two main actresses. There are a hundred and fifty black extras milling about outside on the huge lot when I arrive. I had no idea Vancouver had a hundred and fifty black people in it let alone that many who are extras. Most of the black population in Canada is in the east as that is where the underground railroad from the states ended up back in the slave days. This group are here to fill the church and be the 'congregation' for the day.

It's great to be filming in one location all day and to have only one move of the village - when we turn around and film the other side of all the dialogue. It takes a long time to get the place lit and rehearse a few times. Eventually we are ready to bring in the extras to fill the pews. As they file in, a few that are holding food or cups of coffee are told that they can't have food or drink inside and to deposit the offending items in the trash cans at the doors. Several do but I see one old guy who ignores the AD and continues in with his coffee and sandwich. He is spotted by a PA and told to go back and throw out his food. He does so reluctantly and I can see when he comes back inside that he isn't happy. He sits down on the assigned pew and as the camera roves over the audience to get focus marks, he is on the monitor in front of me. I watch as he digs in his pocket and surreptitiously puts something into his mouth and chews. I shake my head as I watch. He thinks he is being so sneaky and has no idea he is on camera. How can he think no one will see him on camera?? That IS why he his here, after all.

As we start to roll the cameras, 'A' camera is on the main actors; 'B' camera roves the congregation. They are supposed to be listening to the person speaking from the pulpit and reacting. As we pan over a back row of people, one young guy has his eyes down on his lap and I can see the glow of his iPhone or Nintendo DS reflected on his face. When the director yells 'cut' I tell him what I saw. He is ticked off and gets me to point out who it was. I do and he sends the AD over to tell the guy to do what he's here to do or go home. She confiscates a DS from him and he is sulking every time I see him on camera from then on. When the cameras roll again we don't get too far into it when a cell phone rings loudly, interrupting a long piece of emotional dialogue. Everyone freezes. The director yells 'cut' and then asks who's phone it is. The AD quickly locates the culprit, a large black woman sitting close to the front of the church, grinning sheepishly. The director is thoroughly pissed off and turns to me. "I want to send that person home. Should I send them home?" "You should do what ever you want." I reply. "You are the director." "Yes I am." he replies and then tells the AD to send the woman home. "That will serve as an example to the rest." he says to me. The AD gives the woman the bad news and she is gone. Everyone is told to make sure their cell phones are turned off and then the filming resumes. We have no more trouble from the extras until after lunch.

During a break in filming, I go out onto the floor and take a dozen or so photos of the congregation for continuity. We are about an hour away from breaking for lunch and I need to have pictures of where everyone is sitting so that they are sure to be in the same place when we return. After lunch the extras file back in and take their seats. As I scan the crowd and the pictures on my camera to make sure they match, I notice that a woman is missing. She was prominently featured behind the main actors a few pews back and across the aisle. If we shoot that way again, we will miss her. I go and inform the director that we are missing an extra and can't proceed until she is found if we want to shoot that direction. I then go and let the AD know. Apparently the AD knows and has PAs out looking for her. I have a sinking feeling that perhaps the woman got bored and maybe, now that she has had her free lunch, she has hi-tailed it home. Several anxious minutes tick by as we all wait. Suddenly the main doors open and the woman flounces in in her flowing skirt and big hat. She has no idea she was 'missing' and doesn't seem the least bit sheepish. She settles into her pew and I return to the monitors and we get on with our afternoon. The main actor, who has had no trouble with lines all day while we were shooting over her shoulder, starts to go blank on her lines now that the camera is on her. I have to stay alert to prompt her when she asks me to. Despite having to cut and restart several times over due to this, we end up wrapping an hour early and I am so grateful as it's a long drive home.

I am up at 5 again to be out of the door in time to be in Vancouver by 8. Today we are shooting on False Creek down where the water taxis leave for Granville Island, just across the water. We have a couple of scenes on shore and then one on the water taxi. There isn't room for me inside the small taxi they have reserved so I sit on shore and try to listen through my earphones so I can still time the scenes but they are soon out of range and all I can hear is static. So, unusual for me, I have nothing to do for almost two hours but visit with the rest of the crew. The sun has come out and so it's a pleasant couple of hours with a great view.

Once we are done with the water taxi, we all pack up for a move about half a mile away to Sunset Beach for a short scene. I hop into a transport van and hop out in the beach parking lot. I go drop my rolly bag off near the camera truck until I find out where we are setting up. Not everyone is here yet so it will be a few minutes. I hear someone call my name and when I turn around I see it's a woman I worked with a year or so ago. I walk over to her car and she tells me she just dropped off her boyfriend who is joining our crew for the rest of the shoot. We chat for a bit and when she leaves, I turn around just in time to see the lift on the camera truck get lowered onto my rolly bag. I yell for them to stop but it's too late. I watch, helpless, as it rips down the bag from top to bottom, opening up an ugly gash and tearing the side pocket almost right off. The guy operating the lift stops it before it crushes my camera strapped to the side of my bag. When I run over to investigate, I find that the camera body has a small dent in it. I take a few pictures and view them; it seems to be working just fine. But I am sick about the bag. The lining of this one was holding up just great.

As I roll it over to where I now see we will be filming, I see the Production Manager and show her what happened. She looks at it and says it can be glued or sewn back together. She suggests I take it to wardrobe to see what they can do but I have been sewing for 40 years and know that this is not repairable. I know it's because she doesn't want to pay for it, but I am going to have to replace it and file a Loss and Damage report anyway.

It starts to rain when we are filming the beach scene and so we get it in as few shots as possible and pack up to leave, three hours early. I get home in pretty good time and so I have time to run down to Michaels and buy another bag. For the third time, I transfer all of my stuff into the new bag.

We are shooting for two days in a record store on Main and 20th. It's a great location full of old vinyl and loads of CD's. The crew has a field day going through the inventory on our down time. I find 6 CD's and pay just $44 for them all. I am debating over one when it is recommended by both the store owner and the DP as fabulous so I buy it. It's buy an artist called Duffy and I haven't ever heard of her. I also get one of Jimmy Buffet's hits to remind me of Florida, and one of Bob Marley and another of Reggae to remind me of the BVI. A CD of Gregorian Chants and one of African Gospel compete my purchases. As I go to put them into my rolly bag [after paying for them, of course] I see that the lining has come away from this one in exactly the same place as the first one. I am super frustrated. I had the old one for three years and never had an issue until it came apart down the side from stuffing it so full. These new ones are crap. I won't have any time to replace this one until we wrap the show. I will have to make do with it as is until then.

I drive home listening to the Duffy CD and I LOVE it. What an amazing voice for such a young gal.

We spend the last two days shooting in the basement suite of a house not far from where my ex-husband grew up. I haven't been down here at Cambie and 60th for years and it makes me feel sad and nostalgic. I have a truck-load of good memories of times at my in-laws place and I miss those days a lot. But, there's not much time for reminiscing as we get going with our day. It's absolutely pissing down rain outside and everyone gets soaked as they run out to get equipment and set lights. I am thankful that the village is inside and staying in one place for the duration of our time here. It will only have to move on the very last scene of the shoot, tomorrow, which will be located in a house half a block away.

The second afternoon the gaffer, Blaine, heads down to the second location to see what he's up against for lighting. He walks into the house and is surprised to find that it is quite unkempt with toys strewn about all over the place. It doesn't seem as if it's dressed for our shoot. He looks about and suddenly realizes, this is not the house he saw on the tech scout... he is in the wrong house! He quickly leaves before anyone inside knows he's there and heads into the correct place, next door.

We finally finish our scenes in the basement suite and pack up to walk the short distance to the second house. Blaine has, thankfully, lit the correct house and so we are pretty much ready to go as soon as the cast have changed. This house is gorgeous. It was probably built in the 60's and has been remodeled while keeping the original woodwork and paneling. It has a very retro feel to it, but with some modern touches. Although it isn't my taste in decor, I love it - as does the rest of the crew. It looks like something out of a magazine.

We only have one scene to shoot here, and it's not a very long one so we are done in a couple of hours and the show is wrapped. It's always sad for me when we wrap a show. I have spent so much time with these people and some I have known for years. They feel like family and I don't know when I will see any of them again. Goodbye's and hugs are happening all around as the grips and electrics keep working around us to wrap out their gear. The hair and makeup gals are going downtown for a celebratory drink and invite me along and I accept.

Once my paperwork is done (including my last time sheet and the L & D report for my bag) and handed to the 3rd AD, I grab a transport van and drop everything into my rental car and then walk over to the trailers. The girls are just clearing their piles of gear out of the hair and makeup trailer and trying to decide where we will go. No one has any ideas so Honey Dawn and I head to my car and we drive downtown to the Sutton Hotel, the place where all the film people who are in town stay, to go to the lounge there. We call the other gals to let them know where to meet us as we head inside. Right off I spot a familiar hat across the room. It's the director from the show in the hat he wore all day today, and he's sitting with the Executive Producer, Damon from LA, who was on set every day. Damon is a charismatic and fun guy and so I am excited that we have run into them. We walk over to their table and they are surprised to see us. They invite us to join them and Damon offers to buy us a drink. We gladly accept and then spend a delightful hour or so chatting with them, and the other gals when they arrive, about the show and some of the fun things that happened.

One of the things that Damon loved was that Kim, the DP, pretended he had never worked with me before - when in fact we have worked together for six years. When Kim called me 'Momma' (as he always does) and Damon heard it for the first time, he was shocked and was waiting for me to react badly. When I didn't, Damon commented that we must be good friends and Kim replied that he'd never seen me before this show. Damon thus thought that Kim had got away pretty easy THAT time. When Kim called me it again, Damon thought for sure Kim was in for an earful. Again nothing, and Damon started to think that Kim was one of the luckiest guys he had ever met, insofar as getting away with cheeking women is concerned. As that first week wore on and Kim kept calling me Momma, as well as teasing me constantly about everything as he always does, Damon was more and more amazed at what he was getting away with. I finally told him, on about day eight, how long we actually had known each other. He laughed and said he knew something was going on because no guy was that lucky.

Pretty soon the director begs his leave to go finish packing for his trip home early in the morning, and about half an hour later Damon does the same. We spend about another twenty minutes chatting and then Honey-Dawn wants to go home to see her husband and baby. I have offered to drive her home to North Vancouver, and so we hug the other girls good-bye - one of whom I most likely won't see again as she lives in Toronto and was brought out here because she is skilled in styling black hair. It has been a great way to end our time together and as we drive off, I am already missing everyone.
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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