On Wednesday, July 6th I drove an hour and a half from Nashville, TN to tiny little Viola, TN to begin my internship on the set of the newest feature film from GypsyRoot Productions Tennessee Gothic (link to their Indiegogo below). The drive was easy, but I have a feeling the rest of this experience is going to be a wild ride. My first day here I felt like a fish out of water. I’m only one of two people here who has never been on a movie set before, and other than briefly meeting Katie (Groshong) several months ago I knew nobody walking into this. For someone with an anxiety disorder that is a certain kind of hell.
But I knew I wanted to be here, and I knew this was an opportunity that I would hate myself if I missed. I also now know that my new combination of meds is working even better than I realized since before I would have most definitely had a full panic attack on my way here, and on this new combo I just had some butterflies and a little bit of tightness in my chest.
When I got here I was weary. I pulled up to the beautiful, old slave-house-turned-farmhouse where we would be shooting a large part of the movie, and got out of my car. There were men sitting on the porch who I didn’t know, but I started walking toward the house none-the-less because that was really my only option. As I got closer, I saw people out to my left by the old barn and I thought I spotted Katie so I quickly changed my path and headed that way. Sure enough, she was coming toward me as I was going toward her and I heard her call out, “Is that Sarah?” She was wearing a shirt that read Bad Choice, Good story. And I was hoping the first part of that blurb would not apply to my decision to do this internship.
“Yes, it is!” I responded, feeling a little bit of relief to see a semi-familiar face.
She hugged me and thanked me for coming, and I reiterated how thrilled I am to be here. It feels so silly to me when they all thank me for being here when it’s me who should be falling down on my knees and praising them for giving me this chance.
I was quickly introduced to everyone while they got some initial, small shots taken care of, and there were a lot of names to remember. Thankfully, I think my time spent as a dance teacher with classes of more than fifteen girls at a time has tremendously helped with my ability to quickly learn names and by the end of the night I had everyone down. The first day I didn’t do much but observe and try and take everything in. Yesterday, my second day, I spent the day back and forth between the farmhouse and the church where we’re sleeping/filming other parts of the movie, and making a Walmart run so that we could feed the troops.
Today is the third day and I’m definitely slipping into the groove of things.
Before I bore you to death with all the tiny details about the boring things that I’ve been doing, I want to share with you somethings I’ve learned during my first three days on a movie set.
TOP 5 THINGS I’VE LEARNED MY FIRST THREE DAYS ON SET:
- The actors have the easy job –
Now, please don’t take this the wrong way because I am not in any way saying that acting is easy. I couldn’t do it, and very few people can do it well. What I mean by this is that as a viewing audience most of us never think about all the miniscule details that go into making a movie. We don’t think about the cameramen, and the PA’s, and the effects team, and the prop supervisors, and the wardrobe people. We see their work but we don’t think about the people who actually did it. Even Katie, who has worked both in front and behind the camera, says that it’s so much easier when you’re the one acting rather than behind the scenes work. Actors memorize their lines, perform them, and then they’re done. At least in the case of this shoot, it’s a very small part of the whole ordeal.
- There’s a lot of waiting –
You can’t work on a set and not be a little patient. And granted this is coming from someone who is working as a PA (Production Assistant), but there is a lot of time spent waiting for things: waiting for the sets to be set up, waiting for the makeup and wardrobe to be done, waiting for the film to be shot, waiting for the lights to be adjusted, waiting for the camera to be positioned. There’s a lot. Especially when working on an independent film with a small cast and a small crew and only one camera and limited resources. But, I’ll tell you what, I find it fascinating to wait and watch. The crew is so meticulous and gets everything perfect down to the last detail, and I love sitting back and watching as they work so hard to get it just right.
- You have to be quiet…A LOT –
If you know me you know that one word that has never been used to describe me in any situation is quiet. I’m a little bit like a toddler in that way, I get antsy and jittery and want to move around and shout when I’m told to be quiet for too long. This kind of goes along with #3, but when they’re shooting a scene you have to be as near silent as you can humanly get because the mics that they use pick up every tiny little thing.
- Being a PA has no one good description –
When people ask me what I’m doing it’s hard to explain in a way that doesn’t make it sound completely useless. Yes, I make a lot of food for the crew and yes I get coffee for them. But I also run back and forth between our locations to get anything that’s been left; I help transport props and costumes if needed; I basically do whatever Katie needs me to do. I’m kind of there to make her life easier while she’s producing. I’m also trying to learn anything and everything I possibly can from her. She does everything from costumes and wardrobe to meal preparations and script supervising. I’m so interested in the possibility of being a producer whether that be in movies or TV, I just want to learn as much as I can through this experience and not waste any of it…even if I am “only” making sandwiches for people.
- It’s an incredible experience –
GypsyRoots is a very small production company, and everyone who works on their films puts their own money into these projects. These are people who are creating because they love it. It’s not just a hobby to them despite how a lot of people probably view what they do. I love watching people who have so much passion for what they’re doing. Watching the whole thing come together is a fascinating. I’m so blessed to have this opportunity.
Tennessee Gothic Indiegogo: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/tennessee-gothic–2#/
Katie Groshong IMDB: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1722962/?ref_=fn_al_nm_1
Jeff Wedding IMDB: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1723196/?ref_=fn_al_nm_1
GypsyRoot Production Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/gypsyrootproductions/