Last Sunday, the film I’ve been working on since March wrapped the last scene.
Whew! It’s been a long filming, stretched out by major family illness, vacations, and –just a couple of weeks ago–a frustrating mix-up with our one rented location. It’s also been a lot of fun, a lot of interesting new work, and –for me– a lot of learning.
We were filming a book signing at the Richard Hugo House on Capitol Hill, where my character is 1) pregnant and 2) reading from and signing her first novel. Completely apart from the scene’s significance to the movie, it was a bit of a surreal day for me… that is, so many things about it felt so… right?
Let me explain.
The first thing we shot that day: I stand on a little stage, an open book on the podium in front of me, and about 15 extras playing my audience at the chairs and tables. I close the book, look up from the podium, and am relieved to be just a little overwhelmed by the audience response–they clap, smile, nod appreciation and approval, and chat with one another. After a Q& A section with a lot of plot exposition, we shot the book signing where I sit at a table, stacks of books to my left, and signed them for the audience. My character’s husband is there, and several fans of her work.
The thing is, a lot of that day was things I am looking forward to, and wishing for –and am working towards– in my real life. The first time we shot the applause, I really was a bit overwhelmed by the real nearness of things I want in the near future… to be in a little reading space (the Hugo House is really mostly used for literary events like poetry and book readings), to be in a family way with my husband along for support, to be reading my own work for an audience, to answer their questions, and to sign copies, and all the rest.
The Husband was along for the whole day of filming, with a bit part as the event manager. I mentioned my little ‘premonition’ to him on our drive home. “Yeah. I caught that,” he said. “You looked right at home.”
So I’m going to take that little jolt as a “preview of things to come”… if I work hard enough for them. It was all a very good incentive to get to work on my poetry, and to really get serious about just sending the stuff out.
Back to the actual film: The very final scene of the day was much different, and nothing I will ever hope for in my future life, or anyone else’s. And, it was also, I have to say, a little unceremonious. We were on a tight deadline to get out of the rented space by 6 pm. There was one last shot the director wanted to get, which didn’t require any audio or extras… just me, a chair next to the sunlit window, the ever present cameras, and a turkey-baster full of fake blood.
The remaining extras (for the one scene in the entire movie with more than 3 people) gathered their bags and quietly watched. The production assistants raced around, madly unplugging lights and cords to get us out before our time was up. With two cameras rolling on different abstract angles of my arm, shoulders, hands, and “pregnant” belly, our director squeezed the fake blood out of the turkey baster –supposed to be the result of a gun shot that grazed my arm, of course. The last rivulets of thick red dripped down my arm, splattering onto a stack of books bound with a bright, surreal forest-scape.
And then we were done.
By the time I emerged from the bathroom without the pulled-on-tied-on pregnant belly and with most of the “blood” scrubbed off my arm and hands, the room was completely empty, tables and chairs replaced.
The stage was re-set and waiting.
Time for something new.