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.

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