Do you have any hobbies? More importantly, do you have any that you love? Weirdly, it wasn’t until recently that I discovered how valuable it can be to have an interest that fulfills you.
Recently, I have gotten into the art of make believe (i.e. acting). Some gigs have been simple, like the time that I was an extra in a made-for-TV movie (more here and here), however, for other projects, I have been lucky enough to play a more featured role. Over the weekend, I had the most wonderful opportunity to play the lead in a music video. You wouldn’t have heard of the artist, but the song (not yet released at the time of this writing) is probably of the indie rock/ indie alternative genre. The lyrics are emotional, melancholy, and laden with visual imagery; and the song is, coincidentally, just my style.
The production of the music video was small, just a crew of two (talented and creative) people and one other actor (a newbie, eager to be a part of the project). We shot over the course of two long, beautiful days, and even though I was sleep deprived, I felt a tug at my heart when the director announced “cut” for the final time.
On day one of shooting, I woke up at 4:30am, did my hair and makeup, and ordered a taxi (yes, not an Uber) to the shoot location as public transportation hadn’t even yet opened for the day. When I met the group, we took rapid Covid tests and introduced ourselves to each other for the first time (what a bonding experience), before piling into the small sedan to head off to our first shoot location.
I changed into my simple costume (casual fall weather garb), and we hit the road. The key grip (the person in charge of the camera) from the back seat asked me to assume a leaned back position while the car was in motion — I hadn’t even realized the camera was rolling! However, much of the filming took place in a moving vehicle. We captured the rising and setting sun, as well as the driver and passenger while the Boston skyline grew and shrank before us.
I was asked to look over at the other actor, but instead I as directed to stare at a spot behind the actor’s head — because the angle looked better for the camera. Similarly, when I was told to lean my head on the window, I was also instructed to crane my body unnaturally forward, because, apparently, this position looks better for the camera. My limbs fell asleep a few times when we had to contort ourselves in the back of the car (half in the trunk), however, it was really one of the most enjoyable projects that I have ever been a part of.
We bonded over meals and coffee, and I learned a lot about the work that goes into shooting. If you see the camera up close, you will know that not anyone can skillfully operate such a sophisticated piece of equipment. Lenses were swapped in and out, and the focus was adeptly adjusted as the camera rolled over the moving scenes. “Working in film can ruin movies for you,” said the key grip. The two creators talked about how special lenses were used to smooth out facial wrinkles in old movies. And, if you don’t have such a lens, then applying Vaseline to a glass one can also do the trick in a pinch. “Some things you just can’t unsee!” Exclaimed the key grip, referring to these quirky camera tricks.
We drove south of the city to small towns that I have never heard of, and we visited fields and waterfronts in the greater Boston area that were also new to me. We got lucky with the weather. Not only was it mostly sunny, but the temperatures were even in the mid-70s on these October days. We also got lucky with the lighting, and the selected locations — not all things go this smoothly. Also, while I was tired, I know that the crew had longer nights than I, as they scrubbed the footage and charged all the camera and monitor batteries.
There is so much work that goes into producing a music video and even though I will be heavily featured, I am still such a small part of the process. Now, as I go about my “normal” life, I know that the crew will have a lot more work ahead of them with post production.
I am sitting here in silent wonderment at how far my little hobby has come in just a few short months. If you have found something that you love doing, dear Reader, keep it up!