Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Rolling !

Rolling ! 

"Rolling !"
The call goes out and the set goes quiet.  My mind once again locked in the moment.

The boys have been doing on and off background work now for the last 3 years.  Mostly tv shows and mini-series.  Nothing too serious, just some limited exposure to life behind the scenes. They earn a little cash, meet up with friends who may be working the same day.  Sometimes the day is very long, the food can range from wonderful to horrible and holding can be spacious or tight. It all depends on the particular day or scene.

At the beginning of the summer we were asked to consider a new role as a "Stand In" in an upcoming major film. The pay was great, the commitment overwhelming, the content questionable at best. It seemed a comfortable resignation when production thought M's hair was too short , or not just right for the part.  We were however, then asked to stand in one week.  That first day they fell in love with M and the casting director approached us about traveling the following week with them for filming. 

In the end there was nothing to consider as I have four other children at home and a husband who works shift work. It was simply out of the question to abandon the entire family on a whim.  They were able to find another stand in to fill in and  the following week M was invited back to set. At that point we had been offered the role again but ultimately agreed to go on a two week commitment basis - forgoing some of the added financial benefits but maintaining a level of scheduling freedom.

For several weeks M's role kicked into high gear. He was fully invested on set and they loved him. He built relationships with the crew and other stand ins , and even hit it off with his main character counterpart ! If you don't know what a stand in's role is it is simply a person who looks similar to the actor who stands in while lighting and cameras are being adjusted. They can also be used as photo doubles in filming long shots from behind where the character himself is not fully in view.
This is actually a surprisingly big role. Much time is spent on set measuring angles and location of where the actor will stand. When the actor arrives, the stand in steps out and is replaced by the actor.

Some of the big challenges we faced were the amount of traveling to different locations , childcare for the other children, time away from family and my spouse and call times as well as the overall lack of productivity on my part during long periods of sitting with M. Call times are very general and can change at any time. Occasionally , a call time would only come in from my agent/production after my son was in bed. We might have to wake up at 5am to travel to set or be on set until after midnight.  Because of my son's age he was able to work an 8 hour shift, plus a one hour lunch and if needed, two hours of overtime.  That's eleven hours, plus travel to different cities. One day I spent 16 hours between set and travel !

Being on set is all about "hurry up and wait".  You can sit for hours. Sometimes in complete silence depending on where you are being held. Sometimes you are sitting outdoors in the varying weather conditions. In any event, there is no reasonable expectation of being able to do anything on any given day but wait. On this set our ears would be tuned to hear the familiar "Second Team!" , which meant M would quickly get himself to the scene for directions. "Rolling" or "Quiet on the set" meant not a sound until you hear "Cut". 

We learned all the lingo  and enjoyed the perks of the kraft truck and on many days there was time to enjoy the surroundings. Toronto gave us a chance to be safely in the night life of the big city.
Elmira gave us a serene and peaceful setting of Amish life, complete with horse and buggies.
We went to Elora Conservation and at lunch break went swimming in the gorge and roamed a bit through the woods. 

For me it was wonderful to see my nervous pre-teen come into his own. Find a place where he was confident, owned his role and was able to step out into independence to a level a few years ago I worried I would never see.  He truly formed bonds with everyone he met.  He found ways to get some school work done.  He would work long , long days and still come home and deliver his newspaper route and help with chores. 

As I write this we are heading into a week of break time. A time to work on a big job I have for my own small business. But also for me a time to reflect on where we are going from here.
There is a month left to taping - at least.  At this point we are going to be in Toronto in studio for the remainder of it. This is a lot of travel time.  As homeschoolers I need to reset our home to ensure the success of our school year. As a small business owner I need to align myself for the busy Christmas season. As a mother I need to invest in my other children who have sacrificed their summer too and all their regular sports and music lessons. As a wife, I need to nurture my husband who has been forced to fill in a gap while maintaining his own hectic shift work schedule.

There is no doubt that our season has come to an end. Thus far the content has been fine but it is a horror film and I am aware that the studio portion will be more than I would endorse. A genre I struggled to even participate in to this point. 

The only remaining thing to do is notify my agent who asked that I reserve my decision to next week. I know she is hoping the break will refresh us. But I am confident that there is only one right choice to make going forward. I know production , and my agent, will be disappointed but ultimately I have six people counting on life returning to it's normal rhythm. 

The official facebook page photo
In a world of technology and pokemon catching I feel so blessed that he applied himself to his studies
In beautiful Elmira at the historical Kissing Bridge

Headed into Toronto in the afternoon

The sun's gone down and we are still on set !
One of the tighter holding areas... Hamilton
The Kraft truck -
Elora Conservation - kids went for a swim during their lunch hour
One of my favourite pictures,  this kid has definitely found his confidence
Heading back to set in the back of the pick up - even the drivers were like an extended family.
Core group of boys that spent the summer together on set. Fabulous kids !


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