Sunday, December 13, 2009
Going for Picture
"At least I got the role of Teddy."
Last May, Wayne Kevin and I were sitting in the car waiting for the bus, and he was bemoaning some negative development in his nine-year-old life. He finished the sentence by saying, "at least I got the role of Teddy."
Although Wayne, Tenley, and I have been involved in the Florida State Film School for several years, we really had no idea what a big deal a student's BFA thesis production is. For director Ariya Watty to choose Wayne -- a child who I love beyond all measure but frequently prefer not to take to Publix because a simple trip for milk turns into a detailed analysis of every Hot Wheel and the fabrication by him of some money I somehow owe him -- as one of the central characters of her most important production to date was brave!
I won't keep you in suspense -- the film turned out FANTASTIC!!
That said, here are a few observations:
- As Jennifer, the parent of Elizabeth Scott, who played Wayne's older sister, said, "everyone on a film set is always happy." Elizabeth has more professional acting experience than Wayne, so her mom has been on more sets. But I have been on enough sets to agree with her. There is a central beauty to being with people who are all doing what they love. These are lessons that could be learned by many of our workplaces.
- Your children can surprise you. Wayne has been a fan of controlling situations since he used to keep us all enthralled in the "what shirt will you wear" decisions when he was two and three. He hasn't earned the name "molasses" for nothing. Sorry for the TMI, but it was a pivotal moment in the parent/child relationship when I literally had to force him out of his constitutional in a convenience store restroom somewhere in Michigan so we wouldn't miss our flight from Detroit back to Tallahassee. I was most worried on the last day of filming, because he had gotten wind of a friend's Fun Station birthday party (I had purposely suppressed the information about the party) and was not feeling in a very "thespian" mood. My husband, Elizabeth's mom, and I were all sitting on the side of the road, sweating and swatting away gnats. I was wondering if Wayne was causing the whole production to stall due to his motivational issues. (Production had been stalled enough by a slew of summer thunderstorms.) Whatever transpired in the car (where most of the filming was taking place), the last thing I heard before that particular session wrapped was laughter --- I guess all my worrying was unfounded.
- This is not a comparison that most readers under the age of about 30 will understand, probably. If you remember life before word processors, you will recall that whenever you were preparing to type a table, report, or other document requiring more than words on a page, there was a LOT of preparation beforehand. You had to predict how long your document would be, what margins to use, what width the columns would be (there was no "auto-adjust" button), and a variety of other components that would make or break the finished product. I find film sets fascinating for that same reason: the preparation it takes to create the finished product you envision is laborious. You also have limited options for "do overs." You can retake a scene over and over, but if you discover five days later that your subject's hair was parted on the left throughout the film but on the right during her most important monologue, there you go. Attention to detail is key.
"Going for picture" means you are through rehearsing and ready to commit the final product to film. When it comes to a child, there's never a final product. But in the process of watching Wayne work on Highway, I saw that he is capable of "going for picture" without me holding his hand or speaking on his behalf. Six months after the filming, when we finally got to see the finished product, it astounded me how much younger his nine-year-old self looked and sounded than the ten year old who (yay!!) I discovered wants to sit through movie credits (I guess it helps if you're looking for your own name).
Wayne will never take a tv or movie shot of someone inside a car for granted again; he knows that vehicle is stuffed with all kinds of equipment to capture the sound, lighting, and visuals of the shot.
And just maybe I can take for granted his ability to pull his weight on a film set.
Congratulations, Wayne Kevin.