I spent the last month in Kentucky filming a feature, As It Is In Heaven written by Ginny Lee Overbay and directed by Josh Overbay. Technically not my first feature, since I worked for a day as an art department PA on one a year ago. (A year? Wow… that was a lifetime ago.) But it for all intent and purpose was my first feature, in the sense that it’s the first one I’ve been there from start to finish, had a real job on it, and everything. I was the lead makeup artist and hair stylist. I happen to be good at both things, but I’m not certified or anything. Just well practiced.
So here’s how my average day went:
- Wake up about 2 hours before call time. Get ready, both physically and mentally. Make sure I have everything packed up and ready to go. Check email, look over call sheet and the scenes in the script for that day, mentally prepare myself for that. Eat some breakfast.
- Leave for set 30 minutes before call time. Arrive with about 5-10 minutes to get on set. Nathaniel (1st AD) calls for the start of day meeting, and we all listen to him talk. Generally I wasn’t paying that much attention as I was mentally thinking about my job and he never really talked about anything I needed to be aware of (that I wasn’t already.)
- Meeting ends. Find a place to do hair and makeup for the day. Some days I was transient through our location, as I didn’t have a set place. Start in on the actors and actresses. Because of the nature of the film and the specific hair and makeup look I was going for, makeup never took long. Sometimes hair took a while, if I had 6-8 girls to do hair on. If that was the case, guaranteed that Nathaniel would either be bugging me to hurry up or having someone else, namely the 2nd AD who happened to be a friend of mine, ask me how much longer and then tell me I had half that time and he needed the actors NOW.
- Probably 30-45 minutes later, if the whole cast is there, I’m finished and they’re off for whatever scene. This means I will have about an hour before I have to think about the next hair and makeup change. The 2nd AD, Shannon, and I usually have the same chunks of time with nothing to do. If the actors are filming, we have down time. So I have my computer there and we watch things or a group of us who have down time will all talk together. Often it’s interrupted by Nathaniel’s voice shouting “quiet on set!”
- Pause whatever we’re watching/talking about, change makeup and hair for whatever scene, check it with Hannah (script supervisor, so she’s in charge of continuity), once the next scene starts filming, Shannon and I go back to watching whatever or talking to people. (That’s me, Shannon, and Hannah. In shades of purple one day. Love those girls!)
- Meal time. There may have been another scene or two in there, depending on the scene, how many cast are in it, if there’s dialogue or not, lighting rigs, etc. Generally about 15 minutes before meal times, I would go see if Logan (art department, craft services, sometimes grip for camera department, snake wrangler, jack of all trades) wanted me to help set things up at the food tent. (Craft services = food makers)
- Sit and talk with people or go continue watching things with Shannon. Try to drown out the camera and lighting team making fun of my foreign films. (Wir Sind Die Nacht happens to be an amazing film. Visually amazing. Yes, it’s a vampire film. But proper vampires. And just stunning. On all levels. I love the acting in it. German film is really fantastic, if you didn’t know.)
- Lunch is over, redo hair and makeup, or change it for whatever scene.
- Talk with people who also have down time or watch more stuff with Shannon. Sometimes I would draw. Sometimes I would go off somewhere and just have some personal time. I’m emotionally dealing with a lot right now, and so there were days on set where I’d just go off, find a quiet corner, and cry.
- More scene changes here and there, check hair and makeup, or change if need be, go back to doing whatever I was doing. I might go watch filming for a while.
- Another meal time.
- Talk with people for a while. Sometimes go watch the action. If it was outside I’d probably venture out and watch for a while. Mostly I tried to stay out of the way as there was already a large entourage of people around the camera and I didn’t want to bother them or the actors.
- At some point in the day, Ben (the sound guy) will have asked me to mike up one of the women. Also at some point, Blake (the UPM) will probably have asked me to do something. At some point, I will have tried to write more of the novel I’m trying to write. I hit the 100 page mark recently, so I guess it’s sort of legit. I will have also texted with Nicole (my soul mate/bff) about everything funny going on/pining.
- Eventually filming ends and the actors all leave, but I have to stay until the grips have wrapped for the day. They have their system all figured out and I try to stay out of the way or just wrap cables or carry things from point A to point B for them. But mostly stay out of the way. As the hair and makeup artist, I try not to touch things that aren’t mine, and I secretly get really angry with people when they start touching my things. Or if they’re in my space while I’m working. Or thinking. I have a major pet peeve of people looking over my shoulder. At anything.
- It’s probably been around 13ish hours (sometimes 13.5) since I arrived on set, and Blake has finally dismissed me for the day. Drive back to my housing, check email, look over call sheet for the next day, chillax. I generally would spend about 2-3 hours in this.
- Realize I need to sleep. If we were shooting during the day and sleeping at night, I would probably get 7ish hours. If we were shooting more evening/night stuff, I’d probably only manage to get 5ish hours of sleep. Because my body just wouldn’t sleep with the sun up. (the sun is about to rise and I’d just gotten back to my housing. This was not out of the ordinary.)
There’s more than that, but that’s fairly typical. I had a lot of down time simply because of my position. A few of the grips were always giving me dirty looks and a few times comments were made about how hard other people were working in tandem with said looks. Basically they thought I had it easy. Maybe I did. But I was there for a specific job, and it was not their job.
I spent a lot of time with Shannon and Hannah, both of which I miss already. And I spent some time here and there with Flawless Lawless. That would be Blake.
It probably should have felt weird to be away from home for almost a month, but the truth is, I don’t feel like I have a home now. I left LA, in short because God knocked my world out from under me, and now I feel like I’m just drifting. Trying to figure out this fucked up thing called my life. But for a month, being on a film set… I was home. For one month, I didn’t have to figure out anything more complicated than how to make a special effects makeup wound.
When I’m not working on film, I’m lost. When I’m working on film, I come alive. My heart soars. There is no better proof that this is what God made me for.