Confessions of a G-List Actor: Day 1 of an Indie WebseriesApr 9th, 2012 | By Lilly Nelson | Category: Misc
I am an actor. I am well versed in the art of actoring. I must be okay at it, otherwise I suppose people wouldn’t pay me to do it. Two weekends ago I started work on a project in Wilmington, NC. Is This It? I won’t ruin it for you but it should be a blast.
Don’t get me wrong, acting is all I ever wanted to do, and now I get paid to do it professionally. Not always a lot but every little bit helps. It is HARD WORK though. Hundreds of dollars in head shots, thousands of e-mails, and you only might get the part. Looked like a fun project and any time I hear a friend laugh when I read dialogue for a filmed audition, it’s great. I was excited for this gig. Most have no idea about the early mornings, late nights, food-less days, scraping money together, rejection, and embarrassment that go with this gig.
People forget that NC was and occasionally is a favorable place to film. Hollywood types spend fortunes to send actors from California to NC all the time. It’s got the mountains and the beach all at a relatively close distance. I do wish the Hollywood types would cast locally more often but no matter how much they scream NC person is a star, it is so rare to happen. Why pay a local when we can hire Hollywood?
I packed up my things and drove to Wilmington early on a Saturday Morning and took a friend with me. I always take a friend on the first day of a shoot when I know no one, safety and all that jazz. So we (self, friend, and dog) drove to Wilmington. On the way I got a call from the Assistant Director. “Can you be here early?” Now I had planned to go to the beach for a bit. Well, there went that idea. So in a little under three hours I found myself in the sandy inland of Wilmington, NC looking through a script trying to throw make-up on my face while my companion drove. We found the location, the directors house, pretty quickly. I climb out of my car. Friend and dog in tow I ran up to the front door and knocked politely.
Let me remind you once again I had never met any of these people. They had no idea what to expect from me, and I had no idea what to expect from them. Heat flew from inside the house, cameras were set up, lights were being adjusted and my poor co-star looked absolutely somber. He doesn’t look like his head shot, I thought, oh well. I walked in. “Hi, I’m Lilly!” After a few quick hellos I smiled and said, “Nice to meet you all. I am going to get in my underwear. Any color preference?” There was a pause, followed by raucous laughter and everyone continued about their business. Apparently no one had been quite so nonchalant about it all day.
Now I will tell you at this moment, our set looks a bit like something out of Boogie Nights. Bed, camera, lights. I laughed a bit as we read through the dialogue and then we ran through the action. No matter how many times you tell yourself that underwear is like a bathing suit, when five people are staring at you making out with someone you just met, you feel more exposed than if you were totally naked. What makes it worse is the director is doing what they do best, directing. “Keep your head there. If you go too far left you’re out of frame. You can’t let your arm do that! Okay, try it again.” Quite possibly the least sexy thing you will ever do and you have to look like you are REALLY into it.
It was at this point, before the camera was even recording, I realized exactly how hot it was in this room. I knew it was 80° outside but this room was worse than an oven. Why? When on a film set everything that makes a noise must be turned off. EVERYTHING! No halogen lights, no phones, no iPods, no A/C or fans, no refrigerator; nothing that the mic can pick up. There is a light that makes it feel like 110° F shining on one side of my face and about 180 lbs of sweating human laying on top of me; I am dying here. I am coated in a substance and forced to spray myself with water between takes to make it look like I am sweating. Why, because it is so hot in this room the sweat pouring off me is evaporating.
Finally, 30 minutes after I arrive, the cameras start rolling. Take one, and action. Five minutes of making out and dialogue. Cut, reset the camera. Start again. In between takes while I am trying to breathe. I chat with the total stranger who has had his tongue in my mouth and hands in places most guys have to buy me dinner and a few drinks to “accidentally” brush. The microphone is still on so the director, Daniel (I call him Dan) hears everything we are saying. Dan laughs,”I love this cast!” Back to filming, camera rolling, action. Now stop laughing, make out, say your lines, wonder why Allen wrinkles his nose every time he delivers that line, laugh, try to do this, say your line, roll over. CUT! I wrap a towel around myself and walk outside on break. The crew smokes, the actors don’t. Cool down. Back inside the heat for more making out and lines.
At 6pm, four hours of filming later we are done with scene one. There is a small abrasion just under my nose where Allen’s five o’clock shadow is growing out and it has rubbed my face repeatedly. At least while they are setting back up and waiting for the other actor to arrive, I can get dressed again.
We shoot another scene and I am thankfully clothed and not having to do anything but sit and talk. We joke, A LOT! It’s great to work with them. Wrap the day and the director graciously allows us to stay at his place since we drove so far and it’s going to storm all night. We go for a drink and find a bar with $1 PBR and chat. Walk the streets of the city. Come back to the house, laugh, joke. I wash the make-up off my face. People spread everywhere over the living room and sleep comes slowly while snuggling with dog.
End of day 1.