And then sometimes, somehow, it actually does work.
The moons align and the gods smile and it just works.
That was us this scary holiday weekend.
To re-cap, I was called on set this Friday and Saturday for a final round of inserts, pick-ups and such. The light dusting of filmmaking you do before dinner party guests arrive. Standard expected business.
However, this weekend, there were some unexpected dramatics within my own personal organization. Not me personally, mind. But persons. Really judge-y person. A mirror was held up to me to try to illustrate glaring flaws and failing. I have a whole mess of both of those, no doubt. But, when I looked in the mirror that was shoved in my emotional face, I was okay with what I saw. I stood my ground and spoke what I knew to be good and true and right and best for me and my family. Once the tears stopped, it was a wave of hollow-filling security and enlightenment. I was the Yoda of interpersonal conflict and peace. Which sometimes leaves you alone, in your own swampy, bubbling planet of rightness. But I brought a raincoat and super cute Hunter boots to the fight. And I won.
I was committed to acting this weekend. I needed it, in more than one way. Kids don’t tend to care what you need. They’re dreadfully honest like that. He knew it was Halloween weekend and he needed candy. And because of American and its “laws”, he needed an adult-ish type to do that with him.
So, I made an adult-ish decision. He was coming to set with me.
Now, I know kids aren’t for everyone. They’re often, okay, usually, not for me. So i cleared this with the producer. It’s a big ask. A bunch of 20-something crew kids are not trying to have a half-size running around, tipping scrims and tossing bounce boards like frisbees.
But it was a short day for me. The girls in charge kindly and generously agreed.
Didn’t hurt that he was still in costume. The one he had worn all day. And then all night. And then the next day again. Yes, a kid. But just a ridiculously adorable dressed-up kid. What can I say? I made a wicked cute baby.
I was all kinds of nervous. What if he hated it? What if he screamed “my mom uses tampons when she gets that nose bleed out of her butt” during a take? (There are casual health science lessons in these parts. We’re working on ironing out the specifics of the female anatomy.)
But it was a good two nights.
The crew was a dream. So understanding and patient. And from our end, no casualties. No lights got killed. No mics were martyred. My young man was still and quiet and self-entertained. He was the rarely-seen, perfectly content and behaved child of legend. Granted, he did get unlimited cookies and Star Wars fruit snacks. I don’t welch on my debts. Kid got his candy.
What made my heart melt about the whole thing, was that he got to see what I do. Watch me in the world that I love. Best of all, he got to see his mother as a person. Not just a chef/maid/laundress. But as a person. Her own self, not just and extension of him and his life and need. A girl with interests and loves and talents and flaws. It was a precious few minutes for us to share.
By fifteen, he won’t remember or care that we had this evening. I will.
Lucky for me, he will have the film to remind him.
Because that charismatic little shit got a part.
That’s right. After wrapping both my set-ups on Saturday, the director and writer threw a scene together that called for a kid. It was hilarious. He memorized his lines after hearing them once. Hit his mark. All business, all the time. So I’m putting out the call. Miranda July, Shonda Rhimes, Lena Dunham? Y’all need a cool kid on set? Effie Brown? You need a cute, quirky little white boy that won’t tell you your business? I got your huckleberry.
Just one teeny glitch.
He didn’t like it. How do you not like acting??? But that giant cogs and sprockets, reason-driven brain of his just couldn’t get behind pretending. “But, I’m not mad. But, I don’t want to yell at you. But, why, WHY? We already did that scene? Why do we do it again with the camera closer and then again, with the camera closer, AGAIN?”
Did I mention, AGAIN, how awesome the director and her crew are to have patiently included us this weekend?
All right, so, I’m not raising an actor. We’ll not do this art-bonding thing too often. No treading the boards together. And that’s okay. There’s always writing. Or producing. And the industry needs good distributors…
My joy and gift of this weekend was that he and I got to go through it all together. Sloshing through the sludge that is daily family life and keeping everyone not only above water, but floating and smiling. This won’t happen every time. This may have been a one-off fluke. Like today? The audition that I got with my sticky phone video? Yeah, I had to cancel that. The mom guilt won that round and I couldn’t make it work, so I had no choice but to bail. Funny thing about acting jobs – kinda need to actually go to the audition to actually be considered for the part. So, I have to let that one go. And it was a good one.
Damn it, this piece started with such an unusually positive vibe, too.
Until my next gig, maybe I’ll just stick close to home for a minute or two. Way things have been, probably more like two. Or twenty. Or 47,000. Get everyone good and properly sick of me before I head out in the weird, scary world of make-believe again.
Lies. I’ll miss is by midnight and be scanning notices.
And we’re okay with that. I hope. But, maybe now I’ll do it more thoughtfully. For both of us.