Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Leatherheads - It Ain't Over Till It's Over - Day Seven

This day was the biggest surprise of all. It all started with a phone call while I was in the car with my daughter's fiance and his mother on the way to celebrating an early Mother's Day.  Since everyone was moving in on Mother's Day, my daughter suggested we celebrate early and asked if it would be all right for her fiance's family to join us because they were all so excited about my being in the movie. It would be great, I told her.

Well, the teenagers wanted to listen to their music on the way to the restaurant, they went in my daughter's car and I went with her fiance and his mother. His mother was so excited, after seeing the pictures, that I didn't think we'd be able to contain her in the car. Try to imagine her excitement when my phone rang and it turned out to be the assistant A.D. for Leatherheads, asking if I would be available in the upcoming week to return for some editing work on the film. I thought the woman would have a heart attack because she thought it was actually George Clooney, himself, making the call.

I let the A.D. know that I had to be in Lewisville on Monday afternoon but that I was available anytime after that. He said he'd get back to me with all the information after everyone had checked in with their available dates. When we got to the restaurant, they couldn't wait to tell my daughter about the phone call. The expression on all their faces was priceless.

I have to admit to being a little nervous, initially, because I thought that I had done something wrong and now they would have to redo the scenes because of my ineptness.  In less than a heartbeat, I realized what an incredibly arrogant and self-indulgent thought that was, since the easiest thing on earth would be to simply edit me out of any of the scenes; right? So, I just relaxed and spent the weekend looking forward to seeing everyone, again. (poor me)

I was given reservations at the Hampton Inn, again, but one floor up. This was an easy entry back into the process because my pickup call was 11:25 in the morning and I could catch my beauty sleep. (Something I desperately need!)  Everyone was so nice when I returned to the set and welcomed me with big smiles and open arms. Jonathan Pryce came into the makeup trailer, he greeted me with a hearty hello and a hug and then we settled down to be transformed.

Poor Jack Thompson is the one that had the biggest turnaround. His plane had just landed in Sydney, Australia, when he got the call from George, so he simply walked to the other end of the terminal to get onto a return flight. Just one way to Australia is a 26-hour journey so when he walked into the makeup trailer he had just flown a round trip of 52 hours and, of course, still had the return flight to Australia to look forward to. George arrived and immediately went over to Jack and apologized profusely. It was fortunate that everyone had the same thought, you do everything you can to make a film come out exactly the way you want it. While returning to redo some filming can be difficult, it reduces the problems once editing is finished. Films last forever and there are only too many people willing to point out mistakes. I will be eternally grateful for being part of a filming process where there was enough money to make it the best it can be.

There was a lot of readjusting throughout the day so RZ and I had a chance to visit and get to know each other a little bit better. I was able to give everyone a copy of the pictures that were taken last week and, when I told RZ about the way the pictures, I inadvertently said website rather than the webpage and I thought she was going to faint. So I quickly let her know that I had not, in fact, put the pictures up on the web but had simply placed them on a private webpage so that some members of my family would be able to see them.

Jack Thompson told me he expected to be seeing more of me in the future because GC likes to use the same people whatever he can in films. I hope I haven't let him down and that I do hear from him again sometime in the future. When it was finally time to go, RZ gave me a big hug and told me how much she enjoyed my work. She said, "believe me, I looked at your close-ups during the filming and it was really great, in the professional sense," and I should be proud of what I did. I hope she was being more than kind because I really didn't want to let them down.

The day was fairly long and there was a hot meal waiting downstairs. Imagine my surprise to discover that it was after four o'clock and almost time to go home. This was such a wonderful experience, and would love to repeat; but if that doesn't happen, I have great memories.

Then next time you see Leatherheads, look for the gray-haired Commissioner's secretary (Don't check your popcorn!) -- that's me.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Leatherheads - The End is Near - Day Six

This is a day that is met with both excitement and sadness, since it is my last day filming. That's probably the best thing for the dress, since it could become quite rank after a few more hot days.

Breakfast was on time and I was able to meet my driver without incident. Immediately went to make up upon arrival, dressed in costume, returned to hairdressing to complete my 1920s look and returned to my trailer. According to my call sheet, I was supposed to be on set at 8 a.m. instead, I was able to relax for several hours, waiting for my turn. At approximately 10:30, I was called on to set and they had completely transformed the hallway. The only thing visible at the secretarial end now was my desk and chair and the beautifully appointed antique desk. This was my scene with just the simple one line. It was a lot of fun because, once my line was finished, I was able to be used as background for the balance of the scene where the soldiers come up the stairs.

My balloon-making friend was there to meet me and gave me the two CDs he had on balloon making, with a reminder to say hello to Dave Bartlett, clown extraordinaire, for him. It's an absolute dream to be working on a George Clooney set. Everything is run with precision, quiet, and thorough professionalism. The days are for work and the nights are for rest and relaxation. There is no question in my mind that Mr. Clooney knows exactly what he is doing, at all times.

Having been an actor, himself, as well as acting in this movie, he is very much aware of the feelings of the performers and treats them with as much dignity and respect as the technical professionals expect to be treated. I was told that when the movie started George told his entire crew that there would only be one person hollering on the set, and that would be him. There was no excuse for anyone else hollering or making scenes during his movies. I never once heard him lose his temper and he always had a smile for everyone, regardless of position or function on the set. A gracious man towards everyone.

In fact, everyone displayed courtesy, friendliness, and respect towards each other. There were no outbursts of foul language, fighting, or temper tantrums, that I could observe during my three days with the film, and this was toward the end of an arduous and grueling filming period. Tomorrow, I go to the real world again and working with independence, lower salary, and who knows what. I tried to catch everyone that I had worked with to thank them for their attention to my comfort and hope to see them again.

After lunch, I returned to the set just in case there was something else for me to do. I learned a long time ago to not leave a live set until I had been formally dismissed. I really couldn't see any need for my services, since everything that had to do with anything I was doing in the film had long since been removed. But, I was not going to leave without permission. George had command and I knew he saw me, albeit, he didn't greet me but continued directing his following scenes. After about three hours, I decided it didn't matter whether or not I got his picture, I was simply going to let the executive producer know that I would be leaving the set. Well, once I told the executive producer that I couldn't see any reason for me to stay and that I would be leaving he told me to not leave the set, if I didn't mind, until they actually were ready for me to go, since they weren't sure. I had no problem with that.

Within the hour, George called a wrap to the day and I decided I would try to catch him and see if I could get a picture. But, I wasn't going to make a big deal of it. He was coming down the stairwell as I came around the corner and I took advantage. I simply told him that I was grateful for the opportunity he had given me and, if possible, would he be willing to let me have a picture of us in our costumes. He asked if I had a camera and I told him I did. He immediately asked the executive producer to take our picture, put his arm on my shoulder and -- I had my souvenir. I decided to treat myself to a final dinner at the Outback. I wanted a great meal to support a great memory.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Leatherheads - No Biz Like Show Biz - Day Five

This turned out to be a long and interesting day. Renée Z. arrived and we went over some of the scenes from yesterday that had been set up with her stand-in.

Renée is a very gracious, sweet, woman. She immediately came over to me, introduced herself, and made me feel very comfortable. (As an aside, bear in mind, I'm a minor player working with a top-notch cast of players. Very nerve-wracking trying not to screw up!) She loved my dress as much as I did and, when I jokingly said I'd love to keep it, offered to hold down one of the crew members while I made a bolt for the door! It truly is a beautiful dress and one of the few costumes I'm going to miss when this is over.

Pictures for My Scrapbook, Not for Wide Distribution

First of all, what I didn't know was that folks had been told that they couldn't have any cameras on set. I have always taken pictures of fellow cast mates, during productions, and didn't give having my camera with me a second thought.

With only one more day (I thought) of filming my scene, it was a day to collect pictures. What I didn't do was hassle the actors, merely let them know I was interested in having a photo when, and if, there was some free time. They not only graciously agreed but I told them to choose their most convenient time, and let them come after me. So, today, I got everyone but GC's, and will get one, for sure, before I leave, tomorrow. Thank the Lord, because my camera ran out of memory and I needed to upload some of the pictures before I could do it.

It's Only Make Believe, Or, Is It?

The neatest thing to watch was the imitation rain. If you didn't know it was done with a machine, you would have thought it was pouring outside, complete with darkened sky at a full downpour. But, just by peeking right at the edge of the window you could look a little further beyond the rain and see the blue sky, white, puffy, clouds and sunshine.

George is a meticulous director and has been very kind and supportive of me. I seriously doubt that he'd been told what that crew member said to me on my first day but he took the time to tell me that I did exactly what he wanted in my scene. A great way to finish the day! Tomorrow is supposed to be the day for shooting my scene on the secretarial side of the door, so that should be fun.

While waiting around, I ran into an actor I've seen many times at auditions in North Carolina and discovered she is the stand-in for Renée Zellweger. Since she didn't make it through the auditions for a part, she decided to try for the stand-in role, and has been on set for the whole run of the film, making some very nice change.

Hidden Talents of Cast and Crew

One of the extras on set makes a living as the Balloon Man! He can create almost anything with those long, thin, balloons and was filling his time with sharing his craft. And, my driver to and from the Hampton Inn is a young woman with a wonderful photographic gift. Her name is Christie Chaplin and she shared her award-winning photos of wild birds with me. A hobby she picked up after the death of her mother, two years ago, she discovered she had an exquisite eye for getting just the right pose.

She gave me a packet of her notecards and I told her she needed to get these out to the public. Told her about and hope she follows through with getting her work online. So, if you find them, you heard it here, first.

I've been amusing myself with frame knitting and managed to get a good stiff neck from staying too close to the a/c. Renee was really taken with the craft and thought it was a great time-filler. Since you can't drop stitches, it's very easy to put down, as soon as you're needed. And, it's very compact to carry around.

Well, they ended up calling the medic over and he gave me some Ibuprofen. Once he left, a crew member came over and gave me a pressure massage that immediately alleviated the problem. The folks in make-up gave me a small jar of Tiger Balm, something very close to the old-fashioned Heet lotion. The combination worked, very well. When it was time for my scene, I was totally relaxed. I couldn't even feel my feet -- but, that's another problem.

I'm sure, if I had done a survey, there would have been all types of fascinating interests that filled the lives of the crew.

Had a very nice dinner with some folks from wardrobe, who were also staying at the Hamilton Inn, and then decided to make it an early night to feel fresh for the 6:15 morning pick-up.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Call to Action! - Leatherheads - Day Four

What an exciting day. Long and exhausting, but lots of fun. Met the morning van on time and was delivered to the Leatherhead hairdressing trailer within twenty minutes. Before they had a chance to complete my hairstyle, we were given a rehearsal call to the set. No make-up, hair in rollers, and housecoat to cover up the lack of costume. Aaaarrrggghhh!

I was walked over to the set and then sat at the secretary's desk, waiting to be called. A gentleman came out of the meeting room and I was struck with how familiar he was to me. I knew that face, but I just couldn't put a name to it. (It was too early. Everyone was in character preparation and trying to wake up.) It wasn't until I was back with the hairdresser and he came in and took the chair next to me that I realized it was my all time favorite stage actor, Jonathan Pryce! Omigod, this was going to be an exciting movie to be a part of -- that is, if I didn't make a complete fool of myself. Turns out, I wasn't needed for the rehearsal and, at 8:40, I met George for the briefest moment, as I was leaving. There went the grand entrance.

Where is the Speech-Checker When You Need It?

While waiting for the rehearsal, one of the crew members came over to chat. He asked if I had seen George's latest movie about Edward R. Murrow, and I said not yet. He said that was too bad because the secretary who played in that movie was extraordinary. This statement was followed with an explanation that almost every secretary in every movie that George Clooney directs was incredible and that I had some really big boots to fill, and, oh, yeah, he hoped I was up to it.

Is this what he does to each new actor? How very strange, to say something like that to an actor before they go onstage. I could only stammer, "Well, George must have seen something he liked with my audition, so I'll just go with my instincts."

I spent most of the morning waiting for my scene, and, when it was over, George went out of his way to tell me that it was exactly what he was wanted, and more. Then began the multiple takes from different points of view. I'm actually in a scene with three major actors -- George Clooney, Renee Zellweger (won't be on site until tomorrow), Jonathan Pryce, and John Krazinski. I can't believe it. Everyone was so busy, I had to pinch myself!

Foods Fit for a King, Queen, and Commissioner's Secretary

They had an incredible amount of food for the midmorning break, and when I mentioned it, I was told to just wait to see what lunch was going to be. Of course, most of the crew had been on the set since seven o'clock and had worked up quite an appetite. In fact, there were trays of fresh fruit and vegetables available on set throughout the day's shooting, with another hot meal brought in around four'clock for a tired and hungry crew.

Oh, wow, lunch was incredible. A wonderful variety of hot entrées to choose from, in addition to four different cold plates, fruit trays, and six desserts. But, for lunch, I chose the fresh salmon as my entrée. Mmmmmm, cooked to perfection. These delightful repasts were available for everyone involved with the film, not just primary actors.

Pretty Heels Hurt Just as Much as Ugly Shoes

The afternoon was spent repeating the morning scene from everyone's point of view. Renée Zellweger, herself, won't be in until tomorrow. Today's scenes have been done with her stand-in and it will all be done, again, in the morning, albeit, much faster, After that, we will be filming my other one liner and then I get to go home.

By the end of the day, I couldn't wait to get to my trailer and take off my character's heels. It had been a long time since I'd spent the day in heels and my poor little toes were screaming at me. What lightened the burden is that I was able to get a picture of me with Jonathan Pryce in costume and can look forward to getting others, tomorrow.

Sunday, Sushi, and Early to Bed

Sunday was a day of rest and that's what I did. After catching up on all the news, decided to go out and take advantage of the fresh air and beautiful weather. After touring the streets of Statesville, I found the K-Mart and bought different screws and washers for my knitting board to make the action smoother. Lo! Right there, in the same center was what turned out to be a great little Chinese restaurant.

Along with some sensational sushi, for a quiet little North Carolina town, the buffet they offered was filled with all my favorite things, each one cooked to perfection. I took advantage. When the bill came, imagine my surprise to find that the whole thing only came to $5.75! Had I entered a time warp!?! Some rip in the fabric of the universe? If only there were a way to transfer that price back to my world and time! If only we could steal the chef! If only one could eat Chinese food, every day! I know. I know. There are some of you that do, but I can't let go of other favorites, either. It's always something.

Decided to go to bed early (early for me, anyway) since my ride to the location was arriving at 6:55 in the morning. I really am getting excited about meeting George Clooney and the rest of the cast, and I must look my best.

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Leatherheads - Weekend Breather - Day Two

This was an easy day. Nothing to do but amuse myself. After a great night's sleep, I wandered down to the lounge area for the free breakfast. While it was very filling, I decided that tomorrow morning I would actually take myself off to either the IHOP or some other restaurant to have my eggs cooked the way I prefer. The hotel eggs were baked and thoroughly cooked. Great for feeding hordes of hungry folk but no way to get anything prepared individually. This is not a Hampton Inn fault. I simply prefer my eggs done differently, so I need to take myself out.

Wandering up and down the halls looking for the ice machine, I notice that each and every door has a unique rural picture placed just above the room number. Every other room on my floor has an inanimate object; mine, however, has a cow over the Liberty Bell. I choose to believe management was not sending a subliminal message to me.

I decided to stretch out my day. Returned to my room and caught up on articles that had to be submitted to Bella Online. Spent an hour, or so, going over my lines for different interpretations. Reread the script and clarified my notes. This kind of hard work deserves a reward. Time to treat myself to an early matinee before coming back to watch the Kentucky Derby at the Outback.

The movie I decided to see was Blades of Glory with Jim Ferrel. Since the rest of the world was watching Spiderman 3, two other couples and I shared a private showing. It turned out to be a really funny movie with some great ice skating by Ferrel. I had read somewhere that Jim had done a lot of skating in his youth, so this was a great opportunity for him to display his gift.

An hour before the Kentucky Derby bugle call, I went to the Outback to enjoy a meal while watching the race. My choices were Street Sense followed by Nobizlikeshobiz. Was there any better sight than Street Sense feeding the rest of the field his dust?

There was only one sour moment, when I was ready to kill, and that was not two minutes before the race started. I had been dining in my booth for more than 45 minutes waiting for the race to start, when a group of four walked in and decided to stand right in front of me, blocking the television. I really had to bend my body for any kind of view. My server noticed, came over, and asked what was wrong. I asked why these new folks could stand right in front of me to watch the race, rather than sit in an available booth. Since I had paid approximately $40 for my meal and they bought $2.35 worth of beer, how come they were able to come in at the last minute and block my view. Since they were almost right on top of me, at least one of the women in the group heard me and she moved them back out of my line of sight.

She apologized and I accepted her apology, but it should have seemed obvious to almost anyone that you can't stand immediately in front of somebody watching a television without blocking their view. And, to walk into a place as if you own it, without regard to anyone else, is just plain rude.

But, all's well that ends well. My horse came in, the meal was fantastic, and this was a day to simply do a little of this and a little of that.

Friday, May 4, 2007

Day One on Location

After making sure that everything was taken care of at home, I eagerly set off for my wardrobe fitting at Leatherheads' wardrobe department in Statesville. What a delightful experience. Everyone I met was warm and friendly and made me feel very much at home.
The accounting office was enormous, yet, quietly hummed with efficiency. It was obvious that everyone knew their job and knew how to do it well. Whatever else, Mr. Clooney knows how to run a business.
When Wardrobe took me down to the living room to show me the choice of costumes, I immediately fell in love with a black dress that had a pointed lace insert. "That's the one I want," I told them. "Oh, no. There are several you will have to try on and we can make a decision, after that," she said. Being a good little soldier, that's what I did.
Well, the gods that be were smiling down on me, this morning. The only dress that fit me properly and would require absolutely no adjustments was the very one I wanted with all my heart and soul. After the choice was made, they let me know that it was the only one that had been imported from London and was a special favorite of everyone in Wardrobe.
The newest thing I discovered about filming was the requirement for either a physical social security card or your passport to verify citizenship. I thought I would have to go back home to get my passport because I had long since swallowed my Social Security card. (In the old days, we were told to memorize our number and then hide our card in a very safe place so that no one else would ever see it. I couldn't think of any place safer than mother Earth.)
It was only after much commiseration between me and their payroll rep, along with my giving my best sad hound dog impression, that I remembered a little card I had been given when I last renewed my passport. It looks just like a little credit card, so that you can carry it in your wallet, but it has all the right information on it that you need to give over to the authorities if you happen to lose your real passport while visiting another country. I asked some of my friends if they also had the duplicate card and most of them said they did not. So, I suggested they write to the US passport office and get one.
Before I could finally settle down, there was one more glitch. Even though my name was on the master list for a room at the hotel, I was the only one who didn't have a room. I called my contact and they sent someone over within 10 minutes to take care of it. Accommodations are beautiful and I was right across the street from a new multiplex theater, so I was able to catch up on all the films I had missed in the last couple of weeks.
I decided that the best way to settle in for this experience was to start with a nice, hot, bubblebath, and catch up on some much needed sleep.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Murphy's Law When Film Fame Calls

I have been wondering what was wrong -- why haven't I heard from the Letterheads' wardrobe department. In fact, in my insecurity, I have decided that they don't really need me and don't know how to tell me. This is patently absurd. I can't imagine anyone more capable of telling someone they don't need them, then a movie company. This is a business of rejection.

So, it was with great delight that I got the call on Wednesday asking if I couldn't come down on Friday for a fitting because they had forgotten to schedule me a few weeks ago, and there were no fittings allowed on shooting days. I would be filming on the following Tuesday through Wednesday, but they would put me up starting Friday. Time to hustle, get packed, and pay some bills.

Everything went smoothly until I tried to pay my Nextel bill online. This is something I have done regularly for the past year, or so. Without a glitch. Without a snag. Done in a second. So, I should expect the same experience, right? Suffice to say, in a word, that didn't happen.

Like most of those secured sites, Nextel has a page where you submit your payment, only once, and wait for the screen to clear giving you a confirmation number. Of course, that didn't happen. I made my payment, clicked submit, and then -- waited, interminably. I was able to leave my computer and accomplished other tasks, returning occasionally to check, only to find that the screen was still static. Finally, I simply closed the window, cross my fingers that the payment went through and was delighted to find a confirmation page pop-up on my screen. It's a good thing I have a high tolerance for stress.

And, it's a good thing that was the only online bill I had to pay.