Friday, 21 September 2012

Lothario in Limbo

It’s two-thirty in the morning and I’m sitting in a large black rented car on a street in Bath outside what appear to be the city’s only two late night eateries, where groups of scantily dressed young women and merry young men (a couple of whom have bared their chests for some reason forgotten in the night) are gorging on saturated fat and bloated E numbers while pontificating on the state of the world or making suggestive remarks that they hope will lead to greater intimacy. (Actually, I made the last part up because I couldn’t hear what anyone was saying, but I’m sure that the conversation of drunken twenty-somethings hasn’t changed much in the decades since I was in a similar situation.)

Lothario was a character in Don Quixote.
This is  a picture of  DQ with Sancho Panza.
By Pablo Picasso, of course.
Across the road sits a pile of filming equipment – stands, lights, tripods, tracks, cases and ominous silver metal boxes of the kind you see in sci-fi movies where the Evil Scientist has to transport a glow-in-the-dark concoction from his secret laboratory to the sewer or office building or airline terminal where he will release it in the expectation of destroying or taking over the world. Behind me, snoring gently across the back seat, lies Vauxhall, a fellow thespian who has decided, on the basis of a couple of remarks I made earlier in the evening, that I am lover of the female sex of such prodigious talents that I am a second Lothario. Vauxhall is unaware that earlier in the evening on our way to Bath, I revealed my sexual and marital status to our producer-driver, Diogo, while he, Vauxhall’s attention was absorbed by one of many football matches that flooded out of his iPad that evening.

I am, I realise, in Limbo – the place between Heaven and Hell populated by beings that are neither vicious nor virtuous and which exists for a length of time that has neither beginning nor prospect of end.

The evening started well – Diogo, Vauxhall and love-interest Hannah and I met up in Ealing at 5.45 as planned for the drive to Bath for the exterior nighttime shots of O Sole Mio – and then, in the tradition of filmmaking everywhere, went slowly downhill. Slowly, I said. I’ll gloss over the detour to pick up unnecessary umbrellas from a place to which Diogo did not have the key, and the fact that it took us several additional miles wending through London traffic before we found the M4. Despite these inconveniences, we got to our destination in plenty of time to get into our costumes and make-up and wait.

And wait. And wait. More than four hours had to pass before I had my three minutes in front of the camera – the period of time needed for my short reaction shot. Vauxhall, had more to do, running through the streets and knocking someone over, but he too spent most of his time standing around or in the car, where he either slept or reviewed alternative arrangements for The Talent that might have produced an extra hour’s comfort at one or other end of the long night. But our input was short and once it was over, focus returned to lovebirds Hannah and Adam, for their second stint of filming, this time a few streets away.

And so the hours passed and I was bored, bored, bored, and recognised the wisdom inherent in my Other Half’s implication that I was wasting my time acting for no financial reward at all. This is the last time, I told myself. Well, the last time apart from the two more days I’ve agreed to spend on this film and the evening provisionally scheduled for next week and the possibility of a day long-shoot (yes, unpaid, unpaid) the week after. Besides, haven’t I in the last couple of days applied for at least two more – unpaid, of course - projects on CCP that took my interest? Well, apart from all these, this really is the last time I’m going to give so much of my time for so little reward…

Yes, I've made a mistake and will need
to Tippex it out. And I have a couple
more answers I haven't filled in yet,
but it's a start.
Of course I’m looking my response is purely personal. For the film-makers, particularly the crew who probably spent ten hours on the streets shooting scenes from every conceivable perspective that did not involve a helicopter or a submarine, it was, I assume, a very busy and productive night. And the lovebirds on whom the film focuses did more than their share of running through the streets of Bath and kissing, then running and kissing again, and again. (I wondered, but did not ask, whether they would prefer to spend more time running or kissing, and whether they would agree on the answer …)

It’s just that I’m getting old and increasingly selfish. I like to be productive and once I’d finished the Evening Standard Sudoku (an even tougher one than usual) and the crossword where you have to substitute letters for numbers and got bored with the Private Eye cryptic crossword and spent an hour listening to the World Service and stuff myself with junk food simply because I was restless and it was there, I had run out of things to occupy my mind and all I wanted to do was stretch out in my own bed. And it’s difficult to maintain enthusiasm for a project in the middle of a night that feels like it might never end.

But I’ll be there on set tomorrow, even though I’ve had to cancel a couple of things I wanted to do this afternoon and evening because I will need to get to bed early for a 4.30am wake-up. And I know I’ll enjoy myself even, in a perverse way, while I’m bored, but still I would be much much happier if I actually got paid.

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