November 09, 2003

First Day

I haven't slept in two days. In fact, I still have to sleep as I'm writing this, so expect countless wrong grammar, limited vocabulary, and awkward sentencing more than the usual.

Friday, I was very excited to work again. Saturday would be the first shooting day of my new movie project. Once again, I would play the methodical role of a script supervisor. Having worked as one for three movies already, I thought it would be a piece of cake. I even thought that the job's becoming predictable already. I am already aware which mistakes to make to surely get some verbal abuse by the director as well as how to adapt to the different characters I encounter. (Ugh, I really hate it when I make it sound like moviemaking's a Survivor game! :) )

Surprise, surprise, Friday night, our able PA Grace called to tell me that I'll be doing the assistant director (AD) job instead. WTF! :) "How could that be?," I asked. She told me that since our real AD Ricky Rivero has a recurring role in Berks, he couldn't attend the 1st shooting day. He has to shoot some scenes for airing, she added. That was the bomb! As much as I wanted to protest, I knew I could do nothing about it. Stress, fear and nervousness enveloped me. The last time I felt like this was when I was an AD of the shelved original My First Romance project and I tell you, the feeling's the worst!

Being an AD in an indie movie prod might be fun but believe me, being one for a mainstream movie company is like living in hell. The amount of pressure is just sooo big. You're expected to be the one who keeps the strands connected among all people involved. With the mainstream industry full of power players coming from the "old school", you must also play psychiatrist and know how to stroke their egos for a harmonious working relationship on the set. Add to these of course are the real responsibilities of keeping your film on budget by making sure that the shooting schedule is followed and preprod requirements are met, and being the bridge between your producer and director (and becoming a euphemism expert in the process). I may be talking in jargons and symbolisms (or whatever) here but my point is, an AD job is the worst job in the world and us sadomasochists who want to pursue filmmaking but don't have rich parents to produce our films or send us to film schools have no choice but to aspire and settle for this particular job to become future directors hopefully (with emphasis on hopefully since it might not even become a reality). (What a Guinness for longest sentence! Haha!)

Anticipating for the worst and feeling the pressure to do well as temporary AD, I wasn't able to sleep. You know those instances wherein you try so hard to sleep because you have a big day the following day but no matter what you do, your eyes just won't cooperate? That's what happened to me.

Coming to the set, I felt like a zombie literally lifted by the butterflies in my stomach up to the sky. The sequences to be taken were office scenes and there would be some crowd direction to do. It would have been easier if we have good crowd actors here in the P.I., but man, our crowd actors are not even actors! They're mostly jobless people who're there for the money and not even for the experience (not all tho). The fact that I've also been hearing ugly set stories about one of our actresses didn't help ease my nervousness at all. I went to the location putting on my best game face.

Then the mask fell. The most wonderful feeling about being nervous is when you know that others are also nervous like you. PA Grace who felt she was unprepared (the script just arrived that midnight) was nervous. Our cinematographer was a first timer, he must have also felt nervous. One of our main actresses even if she may be a subtle biatch (from what I heard but yet to see) couldn't conceal her nervousness. The production design team just packed up from taping early morning and was very nervous. And the most wonderful of all, our director actually verbalized to us that he's nervous with the project being his first movie in 4 years. Observing, hearing and seeing them being nervous, I knew instantly I should stop being one.

I gave my all the whole day. I doubled as script continuity and AD on the set. It was physically tiring but my spirits were just up. I was very determined to make it through the day no matter what. There was no encouragement or whatsoever, the drive just came naturally inside me. I wanted to do well. I wanted to prove to myself and to others that I'm a hardworking and efficient biatch. And while we only finished one full sequence (the other two still have remnants), I know I did fine. Heck, the fact that I survived the day is more than fine.

I'm ready to rrrrrrumble!!!!! Just let me sleep first.

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