The Untitled and Confidential Project: Exposed (Or My Life Shooting A Lifetime Movie) Blogisode Three

Happy Thursday!  Are you all flabbergasted?  It’s my 3rd post this week.  Miraculous.  This is a fun one to write and I’ve been sitting on it for a while, so I think that explains my new-found blog passion.  It is nice to be back and you’ve all been lovely in your responses.  I don’t deserve to have so many of you return after being so spotty with my posts, but I really appreciate it.

As I type I am in the Anderson Township Public Library.  It is so lovely and kid friendly.  Actually, almost everything in Cincinnati is kid friendly–and so clean!  Beatrix is happily playing on the library computer and I am talking to all of you via this nice, free, quick wi-fi.  But I should tell you–I have a problem with libraries.  I never return books.  In fact, there might be a poster of me behind the counter with a “Most Wanted” banner.  My sister won’t get near a library with me (chicken).  I suppose since she’s a lawyer and all she’s afraid she’ll have to defend me if I get thrown in the library jail (which is full of well-intended, but disorganized readers).  I think at one point in high school my fees were over $100.  Then I stole my mother’s card and did the same thing and she couldn’t use it anymore.  Then I’m pretty sure I swiped my sister’s card and did the same thing.  I’m currently using my mother’s card, which she willingly gave me (the sucker).  I’m proud to report that I have grown up and today Beatrix and I are actually returning books and a dvd BEFORE THEY ARE DUE, proving that you can, in fact, teach an old dog new tricks.

But of course we are checking out another big stack so I shouldn’t really get too cocky.  My sister has this annoying habit of always being right.

Okay!  Medical update!  The giant, infected ulcer on my father’s toe seems to be healing a little bit but there is still some cause for alarm.  I’ll keep you posted.  My mother is doing well on her no yeast, no dairy, no gluten diet and is starting to see some real improvement.  I’ll keep you posted.  I have a clogged sinus and frizzy hair thanks to Cincinnati’s weather.  That will remain for the duration.  I think I had a headache everyday for the 21 years that I lived here.

Are you ready to get back to the story?  I have to go back a little because Maryday says I am leaving things out.  I wish she was here to take over typing because her rendition of my behavior at the callback audition is hilarious (I’ve blocked it all out) but I will do my best to paraphrase what she yelled at me in the car last night.  “Did you tell them you did NOTHING to PREPARE for the callback???  Did you tell them you slapped on your makeup on the SUBWAY on the way down there????  Did you really communicate that you were going to SKIP the WHOLE THING just

All the audition prep I needed was right here.

All the audition prep I needed was right here.

because it was nice weather and you wanted to go WALKING IN THE PARK???  Did you tell them that while everyone else was looking NERVOUS you were threatening to LEAVE because they were running late and you were afraid we’d miss our WALK?  And that you cracked jokes the whole time and did NOTHING to prepare before you walked in????”

I have no recollection of any of this because–quite frankly–it doesn’t sound unusual at all and is most likely totally true.  And hey–how much did I have to prepare?  They wanted me to improvise about being a mother to a 14-year-old.  I’ve got that in my back pocket.  It’s probably the one and only time being a mother actually worked to my advantage as an actress.  So there.

 

Okay let’s get going on the fun stuff, shall we?

SHOOTING DAY ONE.

After the whole rig-a-ma-roll of being on hold for two weeks and vacation switching and all that, it turns out I was actually booked for 3 days of shooting.  I’m not sure how much you know about the process of shooting a film or a TV show (I knew very little) but basically you keep the entire day on hold and then at some point the day before (frequently late the night before) someone (usually a production assistant) calls you with your call time for the next day and the location.  At some point the afternoon before I was sent some footage of the actual woman I was portraying and asked to “be familiar” with it.  If you’ve seen the show already I’ll tell you that what they sent me was the exact same footage they used in the sort of Dateline-esq interview that appears on the show.  It was very fun to get to see the footage, especially since things was all so hush-hush up to that point.  I watched it a few times, got the gist

Mary Jo MIller, the actual woman I was portraying, and her daughter Marissa.

Mary Jo MIller, the actual woman I was portraying, and her daughter Marissa.

of what she was all about, and waited for the call to come in with the when and where for the next day.  My fear was–of course–that I would have to be on set at 5 am or some such craziness, because you hear about that happening all the time, so imagine my relief when the call came in.  “Report to 17th Street and Broadway at 11am.”  Eleven am!  YES!  I wouldn’t start my first day of shooting with bags under my eyes the size of a steam trunk.

HD.  Just keep that in mind.  HD.  That’s all I could think about.  My parent’s 52 inch HD TV and my ginormous face.

Okay.  So I get to the van, and I have to tell you, I was pretty nervous.  Let me break down what I was nervous about.

1)  I’d never shot a TV show before and I was TERRIFIED that I would do something wrong and be fired on the spot.  I made a vow with myself not to tell a solitary soul that this was my first time on a set.  I had to believe that I could be smart, learn on the spot, and not call any attention to the fact that I hadn’t ever even taken an on camera class.  Because I am a natural “sharer” (my Aunt Nancy’s nick name for people who tell everyone their business) I knew this would be a hard promise to keep to myself.

2)  What if they asked me to cry and I couldn’t do it on the spot?  This is Lifetime TV we are talking about here, so being asked to cry wasn’t out of the question, you know.

3)  I was afraid I’d feel self conscious and not have anyone to talk to.  In total contrast to being a blogger and a “sharer” I can be surprisingly shy.  My husband, on the other hand, who is generally thought of as the quiet one, can talk to a stranger without a problem.  He can even talk to people in a different language.  It’s a gift.  I clam up.

Okay, so I get to the van with a suitcase full of clothes and a backpack full of food.  Food, you ask?  Why?  Don’t all TV sets have catering?   Okay, I mean, I thought there might be food, but what if there wasn’t?  What if there wasn’t ANYTHING on set and I was there for 12 hours?  I wasn’t going to be the fainting and famished girl.  I might be the shy girl, the inexperienced girl, the girl who’d overstyled her hair, the girl who’d overtweezed her face, the girl who hadn’t prepared for her callback. But pass out on set from hunger?  No way.  I have my standards.

So I got to the van.  The van was full of people and I had no idea who anyine was and everyone was just sitting and looking at their phone and not talking.  There were two sort of assistant looking people sitting in the front seats (they had clip boards and watches) and seemed exhausted.  As we sat and waited for people to show up, I started to get information, and the information was interesting.  Here it is.

1)  This was a six episode TV series.

2)  They were shooting all six episodes of this TV series at once.  Like, literally, at the same time on the same sets.

The van ride can best be described as the Abbot and Costello comedy routine, "Who's on first?"

The van ride can best be described as the Abbot and Costello comedy routine, “Who’s on first?”

3)  Let’s talk about #2 a little more.  So that meant the van was full of people who were in all different episodes, but we didn’t know that at first.  So, as an example, the first two people I met were people playing “friends from church who start yelling at them on the steps”.  Okay, that sent my head reeling because I was like, uh oh….I didn’t know there was a scene with church people??? Did they not send me all the footage???  Then finally we started to sort out who was who but still, it became so confusing–like–so wait, you were accused of having sex with a student?  No, my daughter is a student.  How old is she?  14, she was accused of sexting and she is pregnant.  Oh!  The pregnant one!  She’s the one who has the baby in the jail?  Uh–no–I don’t think so???  Jail??? Maybe??

After a while it was best to just ride in silence.

Truth be told, I didn’t really see any of them again anyway, so all that confusion was for nothing.  We were better just looking at Facebook on our phones.

About 25 minutes later we arrived in our first location: Ditmas Park, Brooklyn.

And let me tell you, I seriously did almost pass out.

But I’ll get to that in the next post.

(To read the next post in this series, go here)

 

 

 

 

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About Sharon Wheatley

I'm a mother, an actress and a writer. I'm glad you're here.
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