Archives for the month of: May, 2013

No Mist Lasts Forever
-TLJ

Another movie has wrapped, another cast, crew, and group of friends has scattered the way they always do, and the sun of “real life” has burned through the nine week mist of my most recent job. As the years go by, this inevitable ending has become both easier and harder to handle.  On the one hand I know our paths will cross again as they always do, but on the other, I know that we have been on an adventure that is nearly impossible to convey to those who weren’t involved and that the small patterns and routines we developed in those nine weeks, now have nowhere to go but memory.  

I think that “real life” might be the wrong term, for isn’t it all real? It might seem slightly fantastical that my real life could include hanging with super heroes and aliens while working on “The Avengers”, horses and trains while on “The Lone Ranger”, and crazy frontier women on “The Homesman”, but the truth is that for months on end, those were my realities.  There really is a mist that envelopes the cast and crew of a film set and if you’re lucky, it is an amazingly beautiful one, filled with creativity, laughter, and people working exceedingly long hours together, towards a common vision and goal.  

The trick is to then somehow blend that world with the one that is made up of your home, city, family, friends, and all that makes you who you are when you aren’t on that film set, doing that job.  It is easier said than done as neighbors watch your house, mail piles up, and friend’s calls go unreturned for weeks.  After ten years in the business, it is a balance I am still trying to perfect but which has become a bit easier over the years.  

When I was younger I went to great lengths to separate these two sides of my life, for what reason I’m not sure. I felt that movies were my job and that was all and I didn’t want them taking over my “real life”, which turned out to be an impossible thing to ask of an industry where 80 hour weeks are normal.  Eventually I began to accept this insane, gypsy lifestyle filled with other amazing movie gypsies, as a very real and large part of my life, and only then did the two sides of myself have a chance to work together to create a whole, happy, and fulfilling “real life”.  

As this job ends and the inevitable weeks of mail opening, sleeping, and phone calling begin, I feel nothing but gratitude for the path I have stumbled upon.  I look forward to when my path crosses with those of dear friends somewhere down the road, on a misty morning, probably outside of the catering tent on day 1 of shooting. 

20130520-045044.jpg

Lumpkin, Georgia

The taxi beeped once outside my house and off I went. With just enough time to empty the suitcase of cold weather clothes and replace with shorts and cotton blouses, I was on the road again. From the windy, chilly, dry prairies of northern NM to the green lushness of SW Georgia, I am in another small town, in another new hotel. The humidity is a welcome relief, already healing chapped skin and plumping hair follicles, though we’ll see how working in it feels on Monday. The air smells softer and heavier, people speak differently, and I’m reminded again of why this life suits me. I find an odd comfort in traveling as part of a movie crew, a temporary family, rolling into a new town, state, or country and having it feel both familiar and foreign simultaneously.

20130505-145742.jpg

The wind has been blowing an average of 25 mph on the plains north of Las Vegas, NM, for months. Fine dust gets stirred up and trapped in eyes, food, camera lenses, and sweaters, turning them brown and gritty, never to feel truly clean again. On a good day the wind dies down at sunset and on a bad day it doesn’t.
We stand with our backs to it, like cattle, trying not to breathe too deeply, wrapped head to toe in scarves, hoods, and goggles, trying to emerge unscathed.
I look around at the crew and smile. What are we all doing out here? What other profession requires its workers to work through the night, outside, in snowstorms, wind, dust, and rainstorms, to get the job done regardless of personal and collective discomfort? Highway crews, farmers, maybe some others… But movie crews seem to have a particular love of misery, a masochistic, adrenaline induced need to see how bad it can get before it’s just not worth it.
But, in the end, it seems it is almost always worth it. If for no other reason than the bragging rights that go along with the toughest conditions you’ve had to endure. The movie in Russia where you were shooting on top of a train and temps dipped to minus 60. Or shooting in Morocco in dust storms that lasted for days in temps above 115. I’ve heard these stories and joined in with some of my own. For all of the misery that weather and difficult conditions bring, in the end it adds to the adventure and once you get through it, it leaves a great story to be told, and embellished, somewhere down the line.