Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Datz Sho Bizniss

There's a movie about the life and trial of Lizzie Borden in the works.  Miss Lizzie will be played by Christina Ricci.  Much of the footage was shot here in Halifax and a few surrounding areas.  They even just finished shooting the last bit of scenes in Windsor just recently.  Very thankfully, I was lucky enough to have been chosen to play an extra in several scenes in this movie.  I was a gallery member in many scenes during the big trial.  I was a churchgoer that attended the same church as the Borden family (before and after the murders).  And lastly I was a nosy neighbour trying to catch a glimpse of the dead bodies in the Borden house followed by my portrayal of someone who watched the caskets being taken to the cemetery on a horse drawn carriage.  And I can honestly say that I performed each of those rolls with the ability of................ well let's just say I performed them.
Sadly, at this time, I'm very limited in what I can post about it up here for now.  I can't even show anyone what I looked like in my various costumes I had to wear.  We were definitely not allowed to take pictures while on the set.  So I guess all there is for me to do is to relay my own personal experience in being a part of this project without giving too much away.  So here it goes:

First off, I will just say that acting in movies is very fun but it is definitely not as easy as you might think.  For one thing, we had to repeat our performances 5 times or more.  Not always because our performances were bad either, but mostly because the director wanted to shoot the same thing from different angles.  Some of the less patient people on the set found that annoying and exhausting.
Of course, sometimes it was more exhausting to not be working.  There were days when most of our time was spent just standing around waiting for something to do.  But that was fine with us because we were still getting paid money to stand around anyway.  Basically we the extras were the equivalent of any bits of studio equipment they had lying around in big trucks that they were renting per day.  The main difference being of course is that we were much less expensive to replace if we got broken.

But I think everyone who's ever worked on a production has experienced that.  That's common for every movie, tv show, commercial, porn, etc. ever recorded on film.   I should talk about things that are unique only to this movie set.

I guess I should start with the main star Miss Christina Ricci herself.  I'm sure some of you reading this would like to me to dish out some dirt on her and possibly expose any undesirable traits that she's managed to keep hidden for so long.  Well, sorry to disappoint all of you out there who thrive on the misery of famous people, but I have no dirt on her for you.  That's because I saw no dirt.  It was always a pleasure to watch Christina work.  She is a consummate professional.  She shows up on set, does her job, and does it well.  There is not one ounce of diva bullshit in her.  Hell, some of the minimum wage slobs being extras displayed more bratty diva-like attitudes than anybody.  I even overheard one of them say "watch me pull a Mariah Carey".
There was one point between takes that Christina Ricci even displayed a very down to earth human side.  While shooting in Lunenberg, one citizen wandered onto the set accidentally while walking her dog.  At that point, Christina broke away from her station and went over to actually pet that dog.  That is definitely something I never thought I'd see.
No, I did not get to interact with her in any of the scenes, although I did almost knock her down once.  DOH!  My bad.  It's a good thing I was paying attention and stopped myself before that happened.  It's probably just as well that we didn't interact in any scenes because I think she considered me to be weird and creepy.  She's not entirely wrong.  She's not the first to come to that conclusion and she won't be the last.
Although, to be fair, I do think she held a similar attitude for all the extras.  I don't think she was too happy with all of us being recruited through Kijiji (I found out about this through Facebook myself).  All the while she was probably thinking "who or what lurks among those people?"  Some of the other actors felt this way as well I'm sure.  Fortunately for her most of us were well behaved.
I'm a little disappointed that she feels that way, but I definitely do respect her as an actress and as a professional.  I do think that she is destined to win an Irving Thalburg Lifetime Achievement Oscar and when she does I will be applauding quite loudly.

Below is a picture of her I quickly scribbled.  I was hoping to get it autographed by her but the opportunity never presented itself.  Oh well, here it is in all it's.............. majesty?

So that's that.  Oh, I should also give a special shout out to the director of this film, Nick Gomez.  He ran a very slick and well organized production.  The way his crew took down and set up equipment from one spot to another in record time was reminiscent of NASCAR pit crews.  But besides that, Nick himself seemed to have pretty much every detail of the movie figured out so all he had to do on set was orchestrate everything like a good symphony conductor.  I've read that Alfred Hitchcock liked to put 90% of his attention for his movies into the preproduction planning stage so that all the shooting and the editing would just fall in to place.  I have a feeling that Nick Gomez works in a similar way.  And, as if all of that weren't enough, he's got the task of looking at the footage with me in it over and over again.  If he makes it through that ordeal without peeling his scalp off then he should get some kind of award for that alone.

All in all, I would say that the entire thing was a very positive experience.  I learned alot about the art of making movies, I met some nice people, and I made some nice money.  I absolutely need to make lots and lots of that nice money right now.
Speaking of nice people.  One of them that I met on the set was James Vincent Walsh.  He is an artist who was brought in to do all the courtroom art during the trial scenes.  He draws court room scenes for a living as well.  You can see his work all the time on the local Halifax 6 o' clock news.  You can view his work on his website here.
Another person I met was a man named Gary Fontaine who has made his own film called Wendy and Wanda.  The trailer is embedded below.  It looks like it could be fun.

Well I guess that's about all I can say for now.  If anyone else who was on any of the various movie sets for this film, please chime in and share your experience.  I'm sure all of our observations combined could reveal the full picture of that entire movie shoot.

I'll end this blog with one of Christina Ricci's earliest performances.  She herself either might still be proud of this or would like to forget it ever happened.  But, if you can withstand Cher warbling through  a golden oldie (I can't) then you will enjoy the video below.

See you at the movies!!!