Megan's Head

A place where Megan gets off her head.

Category: movies (Page 1 of 3)

On Set

Being on set is weird. I am resurrecting the acting side of my ‘career’ at the moment (thanks mostly to a devoted and believing agency; thank you all at ERM) and in the last little bit I have had three totally different set experiences, with one thing in common; this alternate, limbo reality that actors go to for the day.

Usually you arrive at a place you have never been to, in an area you have never been into, and usually it is early in the morning. Usually, as an actor, you will have had a little intro to the wardrobe people because you needed to try on your costume beforehand, but mostly everyone on set is unfamiliar; except for the one or two actors you may know. Usually, there is time for a coffee and to check out the craft table (in my case to scout if there is anything vegan on it) before getting changed, even though you know you won’t be called onto set for hours.

The work in front of the camera is the least weird part of the day, and night. That is the expected part of the hurry up and wait that is film making. The weird part is the make-up lady, who you have only worked with once before, who is suddenly and for the day your NBF. The weird part is sitting in a space not meant to be sat in, reading your book, with your dressing gown over your character’s clothes. The weird part is checking Facebum on your phone, as you would every actual day, but now you are checking it from another world entirely. The weird part is the running away from the talk-too-much extras. The weird part is watching other people so engrossed in their work and the detail of it, and how upset they get when messy performers have to come into their space of light and angles and set. The weird part is driving in a left-hand drive, on the wrong side of the road, down suburban streets of Ottery-meant-to-be-Virginia, with a camera suctioned to the door, while normal people come home from work, and stare out of their windows at the spectacle. And of course it is the people who must share in that weirdness with you; fellow actors, crew, catering, and the owners of whatever location you may be inhabiting for the day; their house becoming four different houses, a workshop, an interrogation room and a small business.

Finally, after trying so hard not to ask when, it is your wrap time, and you jump out of the strange clothes, now totally familiar, throw your own shit into your bag (I either feel smug that I remembered to bring the things that helped me make my day comfortable; gown, slippers, ginger tea, book, pen and paper, or else regretful that I forgot), and you walk down an unfamiliar dirt road to where you parked your car, 12 hours ago, and start up in the bitter cold, trying to remember how you got there in the morning. And then, the radio comes on and introduces you back into the usual world, as you join up onto a familiar highway, and make your way home. 

(Me and Alan Glass on set)

 

behind the tree

wintry-wood-epping-forest-e1356721602980I was watching this movie tonight. It was a movie by Laurie Anderson. It was called Heart of A Dog, and it is kind of about her dog Lolabelle, and it is about the death of her mother and her friend and America as well, and mostly it is about death because it is a movie dedicated to Lou Reed, who was Laurie’s long time big love who died.

The thing about this movie is it isn’t the usual kind, with a beginning, middle and end. It has strands of stories, and some even fizzle out and come back later, with different pictures, and even different words, and some stories have two endings, and others stop in the middle, or before they even get started. They are a philosophy story moment.

The other confusing thing about this movie is that everything in it is true, from a story point of view, but not necessarily from a true point of view. So, you spend time in your head saying, “that is incredible, but did it really happen? Really? In real life?” And you don’t really know. And it’s so important and not important at exactly the same time. “Is that really, really where she lives?” “Is that really, really where Lolabelle came from?” “Is there really a Goya painting that is just gold ‘stuff’ with a tiny dog head at the bottom?” “Did she really almost drown, and then save, her twin baby brothers?” And while you are asking yourself these questions you are also understanding that truth is a feeling, and sometimes it is the wrong question, and a thing doesn’t need to be true to be real, in story time, because everything is about meaning.

In one ‘scene’ there are these awesome bare trees, moving in the snow. Everything is black and white, with tons of swirling snow falling, and black branches waving in the wind and snow. I became interested in one tree, because if you looked at it long enough it seemed to have a personality different from the others somehow. It seemed to move a little less, in a slower time to the others. Picture this; Laurie Anderson’s amazing, lyrical voice, saying things about dogs and death, her haunting music, and trees in the snow. And I am sure there was a ghost there behind that tree. A ghost short enough to be a dog, on all fours, behind the tree. And if I were a ghost, any ghost, waiting to move on, or forever earthbound somehow, I would choose that tree to be behind while I waited, for the next thing.

In the movie she suggests we come back to this, or another, world as another life. If I could choose, in that time of waiting, I would choose to be a dog, behind a tree, or a tree, in front of a dog.

This movie broke my heart a lot. It’s a huge responsibility of a movie. I loved it and it made me cry. And I came home and spoke words to my dogs, forgiving them for not being artistic, like Lolabelle. I don’t need them to be anything other than receivers of our love. 6a00d8341c630a53ef0133f519c826970b-pi

This blog post is part of a tandem blog post. 7 writers have been inspired by the same topic, Behind the Tree. Go here to read the next one. Candice D’arcy  http://cldg2278.wix.com/findingmeinmelbourne

Why they say actors are like herding cats

220px-Sarah_Bernhardt_as_Theodora_by_NadarI think actors have only two states in their real lives, when they aren’t pretending to be someone else. One is a state of arrogance. This is when an actor has a job. It doesn’t really matter what the job is, only that they have it, and one better, that they took it away from somebody else. This arrogance gives them the right to take on other work at the exact same time, mess the director/producer around with dates, be demanding about everything to do with the job, ask the other actors on the job how much they are getting, and generally behave like the most indispensable commodity in the world.

The second state is the opposite. It is desperation. Most actors try and hide that they are in this state. It is the state just before the job, when the job is the most badly wanted thing. Suddenly the actor is polite, on time, has airtime to phone you and confirm things, makes a plan, reads the brief, asks questions, says yes to shit money, and shares with you how long they have waited to work with you. This state either continues, when the actor doesn’t get the job, or immediately flips into arrogance when the actor does get the job.

This is why SAGA (the actors’ union in SA) struggles for membership. Actors in their desperate state don’t have money for subs. Actors in their arrogant state feel invincible. Nothing will go wrong for them! Actors will criticise a producer and swear never to work for them and their shit money, all the way to the audition, and then agree to to the shit money and take the job when others before them swore that nobody would work for that money and those conditions. Actors will take jobs away from others by accepting less pay, and then be so hurt when the scumbags take them for a ride. Actors will cry foul after accepting shit work and shit money and won’t understand why they can’t get the support from others in the industry, even when they aren’t union members, and even when others have warned them that they have been there before, and the guy employing is a psycho and a cheat. Actors always complain bitterly when the job falls through, and call you to commiserate, even though you could have warned them, after they accepted the job that you walked away from, that it wasn’t going to work.

Actors are either or. And they have absolutely no loyalty, yet demand it from everyone around them. Imagine a producer or director offering a job to someone and then suddenly changing their mind and dropping the one and choosing someone else. I have never seen that happen. On the other hand, I have seen many actors accept work with enormous gratitude, only to turn it down days before it happens because something better came along, leaving the entire production in the lurch.

Actors. Can’t live with them, can’t kill them and get away with it.

*I write this from the perspective of trying to secure a cast for a project. When I am an actor I will behave in the exact manner described above.

Black Butterflies

It’s quite weird sitting in a movie theatre alongside one of the stars of the movie you are watching. That’s what happened last night when a whole bunch of us went to the V&A Waterfront to watch Black Butterflies. (When last did anyone go to the movies at prime time on a Saturday night?)

Black Butterflies is a bio-pic about famous South African poet Ingrid Jonker, her crazy relationship with her father, her tempestuous relationships with men, her dependence on her sister, her poetry, her life and her death. Our fabulous Candice D’Arcy plays her sister.

The movie is slow, brooding, dark, painful and extraordinary. Set in the 60’s in a very clean but apartheid controlled Cape Town, the styling is magnificent. The old cars, the Sea Point promenade, the township, the blocks of flats and hotels. But mostly there is the sea; the wild, bright, hectic, amazing, gloomy, powerful, dangerous, vicious Atlantic that teases, torments and destroys. A lot like Ingrid.

This locally written (and mostly local talent) movie transcends what we have come to expect from a South African film. While it is set during apartheid, and the effects of it are continually felt, it never preaches or becomes message driven. It is a masterfully shot, beautiful art movie, making me want to go and fish out those Ingrid Jonker poems again. And Candice D’Arcy is fabulous.

Broken Embraces

I love Almodovar movies. I also think that Penelope Cruz is my favourite actress. Last night we went to see their latest movie Broken Embraces. It is very typical Almodovar; a complicated story about human relationships, altered by tragedy, brought to light by nostalgia, and filled with emotion. It is almost soapie, but it is redeemed from being that by the exquisite cinematography, amazing performances and totally hilarious moments.

While this film certainly doesn’t attain the high drama of Volver, which I adored, or Talk To Her, which was extraordinary, it still has that strange, seedy, sexy, real, heartbreaking feeling. Tiny moments are remembered. Strange dialogue accompanies very down to earth scenes. Emotion is released. Strange relationships are uncovered, discovered, and forged. And, I must confess, that after watching these movies all I want is to be in one of them, or write one just like it.

Gypsy

My dearest friend has been on and on about a movie that changed his life. About four weeks ago he gave me the DVD. Somehow it sat on my dining room table until this morning and, having just sent in a huge chunk of work I needed to do, I knew that it was a good time to watch it. Gypsy Caravan: When the Road Bends, is a documentary that has managed to move me in a way that has delighted me, made me so unbelievably sad, and mostly, given me total clarity about my roots.

Five gypsy bands from four different countries go on a six week tour of America, playing to sold out shows the whole way. The movie charts their travels, concerts, informal music collaborations, and also shows the band members at home, in Rajasthan India, Macedonia, Romania and Spain. It is also an informal, patchy history of the Romani, where they originated, how they travelled, and their history of persecution.

I have never understood how I love traditional Indian music, Eastern European brass band music, Middle Eastern music, Bulgarian choir music, Gypsy punk, Kletzmer and Flamenco. Well, this movie manages to not only show the connection, which is Roma, but also how the music transcends culture and language and is the height of connection.

The movie, directed by Jasmine Dellal, is absolutely beautiful. I started crying right at the very beginning, when Macedonian diva Esma came through the huge audience, singing her first notes. I cried, and laughed, and clapped along, all the way to the end, salivating with every cigarette lit (yow can they all smoke!). Every time a group or dancer took the stage I was, they’re my favourite! It really is mind blowing.

I am smiling and dancing as I write this. Big Friendly, recognizing my delight, rushed off to find me music, links, downloads and everything gypsy and music, from Hungarian country, to my favourite Gogol Bordello, to Esma herself and Turkish gypsy, and Ukranian traditional folk. I am in heaven.

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