Monday, 25 November 2013

Kids and Snails

For me, this year has been the year of the short film, and last Monday I got to be involved in another one. And you know its going to be interesting when the director can only send you a hand drawn map to the location because she cannot find it on google maps. I was thankful for the high suspension on my car as I drove the rocky dirt roads to the stunning home of an artist which was serving as our location for the short film. And a brand new challenge which was awaiting myself, and our young director, Rita-Mari Ludike.

Setting up the shot, and getting the lighting just right.

I was playing the young mother of a five year old child, which meant shooting with a five year old child. Also an integral character of the short film was a snail ('Shelly'). Apparently while shooting the day before our cute five year old actress had no issues with carrying the snail around (well, three different sized versions of the snail). But when I had to work with her she started being difficult, and when asked to held the snail she plainly refused:

“The snail is spitting on my hand”

After which she dropped the unfortunate snail. One of the ‘extra’ snails was brought back to finish the shot so that the dropped snail could heal. For the sake of the camera different sizes of snails were used during the shooting. Which then became a family for our young actress, and a challenge for her mother and our director to remember which snail was the mom, the dad, the child, etc. And don’t you dare get it wrong!

Working with such a young child made me truly appreciate the gravity of parenthood, and that I am still greatly ill-prepared for such responsibilities. One incident specifically brought this into focus. During a break in shooting our five-year-old ran past me to the bathroom. A few seconds later her voice rang across our set:

“I need my real mom”

In other words, not me, her mother in the film.

“I made a big poo and I need my real mom to help me wipe”

As I said. Not ready for such responsibilities.

Rehearsing a scene
Through the two day-shoot Rita learned different ways in which to motivate the five-year-old, and to help her understand shot lists, and different camera angles. Our unfortunate Director of Photography was often ‘blamed’ for “not putting on his camera” in order to coax her into doing another take. A concept she could not understand if she had done it correctly the first time. And shot cards were used so that she could understand when a scene was wrapped. Lines also tended to become freer as if she happened to be in the right mood, you would carry on the shot no matter what, or attempt to coax her into giving the right reaction for the camera.

The short film revolves around three generations of women, and it was fantastic to do a film with only female characters, all brought together by our female writer and director, and supported by amazing male crew members. As my own studies focus on gender it was really special for me to be involved in a female driven story. And as always working with and meeting new and interesting people. Now, we wait for the post-production phase before we can see the final product.

Myself, our director Rita-Mari Ludike and the amazing Rosemare Errenrich Visser who played my mother.

Lights, camera, sound, primp...action!

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