The Accidental Date

Even though I have a boyfriend now, I’m still not quite used to it. I’ve never been the type of girl that boys line up to date, but I’ve always had a good number of guy friends. So if a guy is nice to me, I may get an instant crush, but I assume that he’s just being my friend. And, as far as I know, that’s the case 99% of the time.

During the training for my new tourguiding job, I met my fellow tourguides, one of whom is a guy named Sam. He was very friendly and talkative to everyone the first day we all met, but by the second time we went on a group training tour, he was paying much more attention to me- walking with me, chatting almost exclusively with me, and being more physical than most people are in general. I didn’t chalk it up to anything, really. Again, it had been over four years since I was even asked out. He found out I was an actor and told me that he worked in the offices at the biggest theatre in the city.

Over the past few weeks, we’ve met up to work on the tour and rehearsed over the phone a million times. We never did anything outside of the tour; as soon as we were done doing the tour in person, we parted ways, and it was only very recently that Sam followed up socially after we rehearsed over the phone. I did notice that this was more interest than a guy usually showed me, but at that point, I was single and probably desperate, so I figured I was just being hypersensitive. It was during these conversations that Sam told me that he could get me comps to the current show at the theatre. I said that I’d love to see it. We at first decided to see it in April, but since I’m assistant stage managing a show that has the same run time, when he invited me to see it on Friday, I said yes.

Perhaps it should have occurred to me that this was more than a friend thing, and it did, a little. I made sure that the dress I wore wasn’t too date-y, but that was hard because I ALWAYS dress up to go to the theatre, especially evening shows. I did also mention to my boyfriend what was going on, and he was suspicious of Sam’s motives, much more than I.

It didn’t take long for me to get just as suspicious, though. Sam and I met up an hour before the show, and when he saw me, instead of giving me his usual hug, I got a kiss on the cheek. Since we had time to kill, we went to a bar so he could see the basketball game. There, he paid for my drink (and by drink, I mean I got a soda and so did he.) While he is, as I mentioned, a very touchy-feely person, he was touching me more than usual- the hand, the waist, etc. When we went into the theatre to take our seats, he practically guided me into my seat by my waist, calling me “sweetie”, and though I pulled away, I felt like the damage was already done. During the first act, I was terrified  he was going to try and hold my hand, so I kept my program in the hand closest to him and kept my hands on the other side of my body, leaning away from him. He didn’t try, as it happened, but better safe than sorry.

But even though he didn’t try to hold my hand, he was still very… date-y towards me, and I decided during the first act that when intermission came, I would subtley let him know that I was taken. When the lights came up, I escaped to the bathroom, figuring the mile-long line would allow me enough time away from him. But I went too fast and there was no line and before I knew it, we were standing around in the hallway and he was way too close. So I’m standing there thinking, ‘How can I hint to him that this can’t be a date?’ Finally, we ended up talking about Philadelphia theatre and I saw my chance. “I saw Seminar last week with my boyfriend,” I said,  then mentioned how much said boyfriend enjoyed the show, as did I.

He got the hint. In fact, he reacted to it so abruptly, moving away from me to look at a display case, that I thought perhaps I had been rude about it. But he recovered within seconds and was friendly, but not so touchy, with me. He did still touch my hand as we sat down for the second act, but in general, it felt less like a date… though I still sat the same way I had during the first act, even though it got uncomfortable after awhile.

We ended up taking the same train home, though my stop was a good half hour before his. Thankfully, he kept his hands to himself and didn’t use any terms of endearment, and we arrived at my stop without incident. And while I’d like to think that he understands my relationship status, I’m not positive. So while I’d certainly like some more comps, I’ll have to make sure he knows what the deal is before I accept anymore.

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Ch-Changes

I have not written in a very long time, but for very good reasons. There have been some huge changes in my life in the past few weeks.

CHANGE #1: I officially quit my singing server job. Even though they really annoyed me my last week, and my final two days on the job were awful, I made sure it happened amicably. I was really going back and forth as to whether to quit or not. I hate waitressing, but I loved the people I worked with, from managers to coworkers. In then end, though, they made it easy- on the 13th, they sent an e-mail saying that starting April 1st, there would be no more singing on the ship, and they also wanted to operate with a smaller staff. I’ll miss the people there, but I think walking away from that job was the right move.

CHANGE #2: I started my job at Big Famous University, and so far, I really like it. It’s a weird mix of crazy running around and down time, but it’s cool and I like my coworkers. I also get a radio, a headset, lots of keys, and an office. Plus, I get to watch the shows if I want. The shows aren’t usually theatre, though my first training day was a children’s theatre show. Normally the presentations are lectures, debates, or concerts, but they seem to be interesting nonetheless.

CHANGE #3: I got a boyfriend. Of course, that sounds like I went shopping and picked one out, which is not at all the case. I’ve liked him for years, but besides being too shy to tell him until this past summer, he wasn’t available until recently. We were also very nervous about risking our friendship, but in the end, we decided that we liked each other too much to not give it a try.

CHANGE #4: …hasn’t technically happened yet. I’m looking for apartments, which is hard. I have a prospect with my cousin Amanda, but I’m also looking at some studios. The problem with the studios is that they’re much more expensive than my cousin’s place AND I really don’t think I should live alone, for both safety and mental health reasons.

CHANGE #5: I will be starting my tourguiding job officially, very soon. I was ridiculously nervous for my first test tour, but it went better than I ever could have expected. Tomorrow, I have my second, for which I must now go brush up.

Working Girl or, The Problem With Having Too Many Jobs

I have a lot of jobs… a LOT of jobs. If you want to get really technical, I have eight. At one time. Some of them are temporary, some, less so. (It is the unfortunate truth that the job that I want and was trained for will always be temporary *dramatic sigh*) Without further ado, my jobs:

THE SEMI-PERMANENT ONES

-Singing server, which is soon to become a thing of the past. More on that in a future entry.

-Hostessing at a normal, stationary restaurant.

-Guiding historical tours.

-House managing the theatre of a Big Famous University.

-Freelance writing for Examiner.com.

and

THE TEMPORARY ONES (see also: the ones I enjoy the most)

-Actor in a children’s show

-Standardized patient (at an auditory college, at the moment)

-Assistant stage manager of an Equity musical (that’s right, folks- I’m a professional backstage person now.)

Some of them are brand new, like the ASM job I took just three days ago. Some, like my serving job, are Old Faithfuls. The problem is, however, that I absolutely, 100% cannot do all of these. I’m managing to sort of juggle seven out of eight of them right now, but not without occasional neglect of either myself or another job. I want to do all of them because I really, really need the money, but I can’t risk annoying eight different bosses. And also… I’m really, really tired. Right now, my body aches like I’ve either been exercising a lot of was beaten, and neither is the case; I’m just exhausted. This past weekend, I worked a double on Friday, went home, slept for three hours, got up at 3:45 a.m. to go shoot a film from 4:15 am to 7:30 am, went home, slept for two more hours, went to a six-hour (AMAZING) writing workshop, and then worked another double the next day. I thought I might be able to get some sleep this week, but between hostessing five days a week, training for either my house management or tourguiding job, and not being able to sleep because of stress, I am about to fall over most of the time. And I think my exhaustion is pretty palpable; today, I only asked my house managing co-worker if that job was year-round, and her response was, “If you have another job that’s stressing you out too much, quit.”

It’s what I’m going to have to do. More on that later… now, I have to go memorize a few pages of my tourguiding script.

Filming Day 3: That’s a Wrap

Sunday was my third and final day on set, and the final day of the film as a whole. It was a very, VERY long day, but it was only so because the people on this film were being really picky about getting just the right take. I was called at 11:30, and was used almost right away. There were some more random pick-up shots to be done, but the big scene for me that day was my first conversation with Mike’s character. It’s weird, we kept saying what a long scene it was a how much time it would take to shoot. In reality, it was maybe two pages, but two pages in film time is at least an hour of shooting. So we just really wanted to get that out of the way.

My big goal in working on this film was to not be so showy. I’m not a “big” actor- theatre is my thing, but I’m often told that my acting doesn’t carry to the back row. But I’m still definitely a theatre actor in my style, which is much too over-exaggerated for film. The first day of the film, just by chance, I got an article about film acting in my inbox. The article pointed out that since the camera picks up the minutae of a reaction, you don’t actually need to SHOW anything- you can just think it, and the camera will pick it up. If you’re being derisive, you don’t need to smirk or snort or roll your eyes for a film, you just need to to think those derisive thoughts. This seemed a little… minimalistic for me, but considering that I’ve been doing my normal acting for the other films I’ve done and felt crappy about it, I decided to give it a try. And you know what? I actually felt good about my performance about 95% of the time. I didn’t feel like I was straining which, now that I think about it, is often how I feel when film acting. Normally, I’m bombarded by all the film acting tips I’ve ever gotten, but the only tip I thought of was just thinking the emotions. And I think it worked. They seemed to like it, anyway.

As Mike and I assumed, filming that conversation took forever, and we knew dinner was on the other side of shooting it. I was starving, and we would have been done SO much earlier, but the people whose apartment we were using were tired of us being there and so weren’t bothering to keep their volume down. Boom mics pick up EVERYTHING. Sometimes the sound guy will tell us that we can’t start filming at that moment because a car is going by, and those of us not listening through the boom can’t even hear it. But if we filmed with that sound, it would mess up the entire recording. So anything we could hear with our own, un-mic’d ears was bad. (I should note here that, besides one of the residents being a film major, these students were paid to let us use their dorm.) And they wouldn’t stop making noise, usually in the middle of takes, screwing up everything. It was as we were nearing the final take before dinner that I started feeling really out of it- not just hungry, but really exhausted. My brain was almost numb from saying the same thirty words every ten minutes, and there was this one moment where my brain just shut down while Mike was speaking and I swayed where I stood. I ended up finishing the take (though I think that one was messed up by the talking residents.) I was just SO DONE with that scene.

This is why I don’t think I could ever LOVE film acting. Theatre rehearsal can get repetitive, yes, but when you have to do something over in theatre, it’s often so you can try something new. You can often experiment in film, too, but not as much; besides being confined to a certain screen size, your performance can’t be so radically different that moments of it can’t be spliced in with other takes. It’s this replicated performance that I don’t like; one of the worst things that ever happened to me as an actor was figuring out my little habits, because suddenly, they were distracting me from my performance: I did that thing was my hands again, I always extend my neck when speaking a line, etc. etc. Doing close to the same performance just brings to light what you do that might not be so great.

Finally we finished that scene and broke for dinner. I didn’t film for hours after that- I only had one more thing to do, reshooting the scene that almost caught my hair on fire, and that was at the very end. But I stayed on set and watched the other scenes. When those were done, everyone of the actor persuasion was sent home except for me. Thankfully, the lights they used for the reshoot weren’t as hot as the previous ones, so there was no fire hazard that time. It still took a long time, but again, it was because they were really committed to getting the absolute best shot. There were so many of them that would have been fine, but the director of photography kept saying to the director, “Just let me try this. I promise you, you will lose your shit.”

I was wrapped by ten. I was actually kind of sad to leave the set. For the first time on a film, I felt like I deserved it when the crew told me I had done a good job. I really enjoyed my time on set, and the script was fun to work with, as well as the cast and crew. I may get to work with some of the same people this coming weekend, but we’ll see. I may actually go to the screening of this film; that should tell you how good I felt about it.

Filming Day 2: No Kissing, Please

I arrived on set on Saturday around 10:30 am. As soon as I was signed in, I was told that the schedule was being rearranged and I wouldn’t be needed until one p.m. This could have been annoying, but it wasn’t really; film sets are all about hurry up and wait, and I didn’t have anything better to do anyway (well… perhaps memorizing my work script. About that…)

I wasn’t waiting alone. Mike was filming, but two new actors were in the dorm where we spent out non-filming hours- Jon, who played the supporting role of Donny, and Ashley, who played the smaller part of Amy. It’s interesting to see people after reading their character description. Mike, for example, was EXACTLY how I pictured the character of Jonathan. As for Donny, to me he looked exactly like the producer of the film (even though the producer is so not a womanizing slimeball), but Jon doesn’t look like the producer at all. And the character of Amy was described as “the prettiest girl at the party.” Ashley was certainly pretty, just a different (the only word I can think of is “smarter”) kind of pretty than I had pictured. Both were very nice. In the end, Ashley was sent home because they didn’t need her until the next day.

Not long after that, the girl playing my friend Meredith, Emily, arrived. To explain what happened next, you need to know the following: in the script, Meredith is the typical party girl- dresses sluttily, out for whatever action she can get, very pretty, etc. Emily, while certainly not a slutty dresser (that I’ve seen), is very pretty and is into modeling. Because her character is after any boy that will have her, in the script, there is a scene, or rather, a pan to, Meredith and Donny making out. Which brings us to the rehearsal we had before shooting. Emily showed up with this older guy- like, late forties- and Mike and I couldn’t figure out who he was. We hoped he was her dad, but what did that mean? How old was she?

Cut to her entering the holding room. Jon started talking to her, as he had all of us when we first arrived, and asked her almost immediately if she was all right with the two of them making out. He made it awkward, but it really shouldn’t have been. In my opinion, it’s imperative to being professional. The two of them, if either of them were uncomfortable, could have probably negotiated with the director to cut it out, but even if it MUST happen, I still think it’s important to talk over with your on-stage/screen kissing partner. Both of them agreed that they were totally okay with it, no problem. Then, in continuing conversation, Jon asked Emily what school she went to… and Emily named a high school. She was sixteen. Sophomore year, sixteen.

As soon as he found this out, Jon immediately got uncomfortable. After all, he was twenty-five. Besides it being a huge age difference, Emily wasn’t even legal to be touched by him. He was obviously very, very concerned about touching Emily in any way. She seemed okay, though, assuring him it was fine… until we were heading down to the set. That was when Emily pulled me behind everyone else and hissed, “Help me! I don’t want to make out with him. What do I do?”

Now, I didn’t know Emily well. I still don’t, as much as I liked her during the shoot. Maybe she spends every day after school making out. But if this would be her first make-out… that’s kind of not the best circumstances under which to have it. And even if she had experience, movie kissing, as I talked about in the last entry, is awkward even when you’re comfortable with doing it. If you’re not, it’s probably pretty awful. And it will be pretty awful over and over and over again, during every single take. I didn’t know what to do to help her. I wanted to, but the question was, was it my business to do so- to perhaps ask the director, writer, or producer (or all three), if they were willing to cut the shot, or even suggest that she do it?

In the end, I grabbed my chance when Emily was called away to go over some blocking and the writer happened to walk by. I pulled him aside and whispered that Emily wasn’t comfortable with the kissing scene. He said that was fine, and he told the director. Turns out, neither of them knew she was sixteen and, besides wanting to honor her wishes in the first place, I think the fact that she was a minor made them more than willing to acquiesce. They ended up just having the two of them sitting with Emily’s legs atop his and their faces really close.

We shot a lot of random shots on day two- the magic first eye contact between my character and Mike’s from a million angles, the (comparatively) long couch conversation between our two characters, made longer by the fact that I was sitting on my mic box, and the first scene of the movie, which takes place in a bathroom. There were five of us in the small dorm bathroom, the gigantic light was in the shower, and there was a camera and a boom mic. Definitely no spare room, and an air conditioner kept coming on, making it impossible to film until it turned off. But eventually, we wrapped that scene, and were wrapped for the day, by 8:45 pm. I was very happy to be home by 10 p.m.

Filming Day 1: You’re Smokin’! …No, Seriously, You’re Smoking.

Yesterday was my first day on set for a new student film. It’s with the same university where I did my last film, and the people are always great to work with. This was no exception.

It was a special day yesterday because, besides being our only non-12-hour shoot, we had a dog on set! When I read the script, I pictured a big dog, but the dog that was used was  lap dog, but not one of those annoying yippy, shaky ones. He was super cute and super well-behaved. I guess because I’d never worked on a film with an animal before, or maybe I forgot how high-quality these films are for student films, but I kind of expected them to just use one of the crew members’ dogs, but this one was very friendly and really well-trained. Even so, it’s hard to work with animals, because they like to sniff things every now and then.

Before the dog left, the director wanted to shoot the poster picture. I think this is the first time I’ve ever posed for a poster picture, and this pose was a kiss. I knew that my leading man, Mike, and I would be kissing, and it wasn’t a big deal; from the moment we met, we got alone really well and he made me feel very comfortable. But kissing for a film, and especially for a picture, is the least romantic thing in the world. The point of having the dog in the picture was the have him looking at us, kissing, so we had to kiss and then wait for the trainer to get the dog’s attention and hold it. Then when we started to shoot the actual scene, the kiss was less about the kiss than how it looked. So as our mouths are mere millimeters apart, we’ve got five people studying us closely through various lenses saying things like, “Can you move a little to the left?” and “Tilt your heads more that way,” and “That was a little too fast- can you kiss more slowly?”, all while a boom mic hung just above our heads. Nothing sucks the romance out of a moment more than those things. All in all, we shot that part of the scene at least two dozen times from various angles.

Thankfully, my and Michael’s rapport was not affected by the romance-less kiss. We had a great time the whole time we were on set (in conversation, I found out that he went to college in my hometown), and the crew was really awesome as well. There was one very strange boy, who the director has vowed to keep off the set for the rest of the shoot. He’s one of those people who doesn’t pick up on social cues, though he apparently has no diagnosed disorder. While he was able to be quiet when we were filming, as soon as they shouted cut, he would talk in an over-loud voice about anything and everything, stammering his way through unrelated stories, and at one point, sitting under a counter with his headphones on, he started to sing Hey Jude.

It took us a long time to film the kiss, and by the time we were done, it was about ten p.m. and everyone was starving. Caitlin, who seems to be in charge of the whole thing, ordered pizza and it was the best thing I have ever tasted.

For the first time ever on a film, I had to wear a body mic. These are taped under your clothes, with the tiny microphone taped somewhere around the sternum. Normally, the power box, which is smaller than a standard walkie talkie, gets put in the wearer’s pocket, but I was wearing a skirt and didn’t have any pockets. The second choice is to clip it to the inside of your pants (or skirt), under your shirt, but my shirt was tucked in. Finally, the sound guy crafted what was basically a gaff tape garter for me, which I wore as high up on my thigh as possible, with the mic box basically resting just under my butt. This was awkward for a million reasons, the first being that the garter was just a little bit too big, so it kept slipping down my leg no matter how much masking tape I stuck to my tights, and the second being that, with the box being located where it was, I spent all my downtime sitting on it, and it got really hot.

Around 10:30, Michael finished his last shot and it was my turn to do a solo scene, which contained only one line but some very complicated lighting. I think the point was to make me look like an angel or something, all backlit and halo-y. So they experimented with some bright lights behind me and I guess the effect was good, because they all kept going, “Wow. That’s perfect” and snapping pictures both on the primary camera and their phones. It is certainly very nice to be told many times that you look stunning in the scene, but I was getting a little antsy; I had to catch the last train home, and also, the lights were REALLY hot. My back was to them, but I was only a foot or so in front of them, and my back was burning. As they got ready to shoot, the director of photography looked at me and said, “Uh… is her hair smoking?” People laughed the comment off, but he kept squinting at me. “I think her hair’s smoking,” he said again. This really freaked me out. I’m very protective of my hair, and I also didn’t want to be a fireball. But I was a good actor and stayed in place until another guy said, “Do you have hairspray in your hair?” I did. A lot of it. My hair is untameable and I’d doused it pretty well. “Get away from that light right now,” the guy said, and I stepped away. It was then that I could smell the burning hair- MY burning hair. From then on, I was kind of afraid of those lights, only stepping in front of them right before we were about to shoot.

Today was a longer day; I will write tomorrow, when I am not so exhausted!