Well, it’s official, the film “Scream at the Devil” is, as they say, ‘in the can.’ Though of course, ‘on card and logged into the computer’ is more accurate these days. It’s strange to make a film without actual film, but hey, times change. And speaking of change, and time, I have a new book to write!
We had a blast during the shooting, and when it was over, well after dawn on a Saturday morning, I went to bed, leaving the crew to whoop it up around my pool until all hours of the early afternoon. For the next few days, I took my daughter to school, and then went to bed again. Now I’m up in San Francisco and I’m still not sure when I’m supposed to sleep or get up, mostly though, it’s really nice to get into bed.
Especially in a suite at the Fairmont, a little congratulations gift from my amazing mate. Let me tell you about those five star sheets. If you are a man and you are not a biker, a swimmer, or a cross dresser, then I’m sorry, because you will never know the joy of that egyptian cotton on freshly shaved legs. Mmmm. It’s, frictionless, and yet, so fluffy.
Writing is a solitary business, except for editors, of course, and there’s nobody to screw up your work with bad lighting or silly sound design. But a film is another animal, (perhaps ‘zoo’ is more the mot juste) and it isn’t over when we call wrap! Now we get to put the film together, shot by shot, and add in special effects, sound and music. This, my friends, is where the movie is made or lost. It just doesn’t matter how good my performance is if the the editor has no sense of timing or drama. I can manifest all the fear of Satan I want, but if the composer puts a spritely polka underneath it, the tension, we can assume, will be lost. Post production, almost more than the visuals themselves, tell the audience where to look and what to feel.
So once again, I come back to the refrain that a film is something we do with a group of people and no one person is more important than any other. I did have one ‘actor’ experience on this film, where the actor thinks that it’s all about them, and I swear I wanted to stab them. Perhaps that’s because I was holding a butcher’s knife at the time.
Here’s the deal, do not—ever—show up on a set without knowing your lines and call yourself a professional. What would people think if the camera assistants showed up, and then began to figure out how to pull focus? You would fire them and get someone who knows what they are doing and doesn’t waste everyone’s time. When you keep fifty people waiting while you get your shit together, whether that’s knowing your lines, or building up to a emotional point, you have not done your homework, and you are not good at your job.
In any other job, you would be ostracized at least, and eventually fired if you did it more than once, yet in film, actors are coddled and even ‘bad’ behavior has come to be expected and accepted by the unwitting crew. Not that anyone behaved badly on “Scream” far from it, we had a terrific group of people and I’m lucky to have a bevy of new friends, but you get my rant, uh, drift.
One of the things I’m most proud of in my acting career is the fact that almost every director I’ve ever worked with has worked with me more than once. There’s been a few I declined to work with again for a variety of reasons and, I’m sure, a few of them who are more than content to continue in their careers without me, and that’s fine. Personalities happen. But I hope to hell I was on time, prepared, and easy to work with. It’s my job to make their job easier, not harder, to Serve the Piece, and the most important thing to remember in a film or TV show, or play, or any job actually, is—Am I doing the best thing for the overall result? For the Company? For the charity? For the school? Whatever it is you do. The question should never, ever, ever be—Is this the best way to get more for me?
Because it isn’t about any one person. Just like life, just like families, offices, countries, just like…fill in the blank. We are in this together.
I had a wonderful, exhausting, exhilarating, draining, and heartfelt experience with this group of people, and I’m so glad to have met all of them. It was my first experience where most of the cast and crew were younger than myself, and it was really very cool to be the ‘mom’ to everybody, and to see so many of them at the beginning of what will be very long and rewarding careers.
As far as the sleepiness is concerned, it’s understandable. Just consider this; not only did I work 13 hour days, or nights, as the case may be, but I put myself through an emotional sieve. To recreate all the insanity and sorrow, I went through the equivalent of five funerals, four near-death experiences, and a week’s worth of cocaine paranoia.
While I hope you have experienced none of these things, if you’ve been through even one, you’ll know how exhausting it can be. No wonder the sheets at the fabulous Fairmont are singing me a lullaby.
And now, back to mom-hood, and writing. I owe a sequel to “Invisible Ellen” by the end of year and I’m not really sure what that will be about yet. Multiple careers are a blast, but I do sometimes feel like I need someone to turn me in the right direction. Point and shoot. It’s a question of focus, but only of that. Even as I write this, I feel ideas forming, stories lurking, and plots unfolding. The blurriness is starting to clear. Oh, there she is, Ellen, and she’s beckoning, “Come on, lazy bones, write me!”
Gotta go, darn, I’ll miss this duvet.
Do what you love until you are exhausted, and then, let yourself rest, you earned it.
Shari, June 12th, 2013.