not so Tricky Business

Just received a lovely letter from the series producer of Tricky Business thanking me for me for the work on Tricky Business ep 11.  I was honestly touched.

It was a whirlwind casting costuming and shoot.  I was cast 2 days before the costume fitting and then shot the next day down in Carringbah.  My audition was a little shaky which is I guess how we always feel.  I had it totally down in the waiting room at Mullinars and had a good substitution for my “holding back the tears” scene.  It was a bit more chaotic in the test as it always is with a non actor reading in lines but it was OK and I hit all the marks.  Someone must have liked it as I was cast without callback.

I get a call the morning of the costume fitting which is the day before the shoot wanting me for a particular time which I can’t make. No issues with them at all they change it to whenever I get there.  I get there in about 15 minutes and everyone is amazing.  They’re obviously super busy like the Flash family on amphetamines. Except when ever I have to talk to anyone.  Then they are funny and generous and interested in what I have to say and me being comfortable on the job.  Costuming is the same, and it sets the tone for my time at Tricky Business – patient talented professionals.

Shoot day was a 4 hour call in the south and walking onto a big set like that is a bit like parachuting onto a battle field – who knows who is who and to whom you are supposed to talk to.  Added to that it was lunch time and everyone was mixed up in a moshpit of food and mobile phones under these 2 tents. I had done my research however and recognized the actor I was acting opposite from his head-shot. From there it was the establishing enough of a relationship to be comfortable and believable on the set.

Hair and makeup was crazy.  They gave me an impromptu- incharacter hair cut to resemble the middle class limo driver in Woolongong.  I object to this in film.  If you are doing a 50 worder on TV for $200 and they feel the need to do a permanent change to you it needs to be negotiated.  I often have multiple jobs on not in that one bogan style they like so I have to take $50 of my wage and get the hair fixed up which after tax and agent fees leaves me with $100 for a days TV work not including the 2 hours travel. Enough whinge about that. All the crew and cast in the makeup room are lovely and introduce them selves whether they be leads or head of department. If I wasn’t focused on being in character sad I’d be embarrassing my self with the usual diatribe.

Tricky Business on nine

We get onto the set and wait around while I try and extricate myself from well meaning nervously chatty new actors (well new extras, but I fail to see the distinction when you’re starting out at a new job). I’m hoping to get 5 minutes to focus and settle myself before my crying scene without appearing like a diva.  I do. They call me for my scene and we do a run through with the director and the AD gets up to stand in unnatural positions and proximity to one another (as usual) and away we go.  My scene partner gets 2 takes and they switch to me. The director asks if I wanted to do it with the tear stick (we’ve not talked tears yet) so I say OK and makeup go off to get some. A second later someone says action and I’m baffled, mildly panicked and snapped into focus in the space of a sigh.

… then I false start the 1st line. When you dry or stumble or false start on camera things slow down.  Moments seem to last an eternity but if you f*ck up as often as I do you learn to use it to your advantage. I take a breath for me and editing and start again in a slightly different tone. I get through the 50 words and I hear cut and “that’s great, lets move on.” and it’s time to be wide-eyed and panicky again. ONE TAKE?! Oh well.  That 45 seconds is my day on Tricky Business.

So now I’m reading the lovely note from Denny at TB specific to me and remembering why I got into this biz, or at least why I’ve stayed now I’m here.  This is the kind of uplifting egalitarian ethos we are trying to produce on our films.  It makes me proud to be in this industry.

There are no people like show people.

Revenge of the Nerds, NERDS!

Had a long weekend of gaming at the EYE-CON RPG convention over the long weekend.  It was a wonderful weekend of hilarious, exciting and some disappointing games leading ot a rollercoaster ride of an event.  But first some qualifiers.

What is a role playing game?  If I had a dollar for, “is it a computer game?” (nope that’s a …computer game) “Do you dress up and put on silly voices?” (nope that’s my day job). Well as described by wikipaedia – “A role-playing game  is a game in which players assume the roles of characters in a fictional setting. Players take responsibility for acting out these roles within a narrative through a process of structured decision-making and character development. Actions taken within many games succeed or fail according to a formal system of rules and guidelines (and chance; ala dice). The original form (sometimes called a tabletop RPG) is conducted through discussion. An arranger called a game master (GM) usually decides on the rules and setting to be used and acts as referee, while each of the other players plays the role of a single character.

That being said it’s really interesting to me as an actor what drives other people to this hobby and how do they interact with it.  Over the weekend I found a great amount of classy acting in the guise of escapism.  People playing covert Nazi’s with their own agenda or insanely explosive Goblins, all with characterizations that I’d envy to have in an improv class, and that I found myself interacting with gleeful abandon.

At the low points like most games we were stuck haggling over rules, but the heights were when we were haggling over character motivations and thwarting schemes. In essence we were acting in complex improv dramady and loving it. eg: A George Peppard like ex-army boss played by me (professional actor) with the Nazi/student to my left, the Italian Resistance Fighter/Actuary on my right and the Allied paratrooper/IT tech at the end of the table, all looking at each other as suspiciously as the character list of Reservoir Dogs.

The acting was engaging and funny, all well motivated and for the most part with an idea of character.  I think for that reason we were all on a level playing field regardless of acting experience.  We were all solidly in our imaginations with respect to the setting and played our successes and failures at the whim of dice with convincing aplomb. All this without standing up from the table, wearing a crazy costume (outside of the Sheldon Cooper wardrobe we all seemed to have raided) or having met one another before.  People had traveled interstate with pals and stayed at the YHA to be there.  The commitment to having fun was equally as impressive.

It’s good to know that what I feel as the camaraderie of acting occurs outside of the biz, and that anyone with a solid character motivation can pull of some fine acting feats.  That and it was a blast of a time. All in all I write off EYE-CON 2012 as a success. Bring on the next one.