In what seemed like mere minutes: three full audition days quickly turned into four, a fresh and talented cast was decided upon, producers worked tirelessly hour after hour on every minute detail, the production design department flipped upside down bringing new eyes to the set, major props were purchased mere hours before shooting…
And then it came.
This past Friday afternoon was the first moment Mother of Us All was captured on screen. Everything I had been working on since last May, everything my crew had been pulling together, had all been constructed for that single moment. In two days, we shot for 18 hours; 11 scenes worth of stunning footage.
There is a phrase we use on set constantly to keep us motivated, which stems from a faux audition our DP had undergone one night. I suppose I give away my audition “secrets” when I tell this tale, and I might embarrass the parties involved, but I will proceed nonetheless. In auditions, I have the actor first read their sides according to how they had been practicing it on their own. After hearing that initial reading, I will then instruct the actor to do something completely irrational, irrelevant, and ridiculous with their second reading, merely to see how they react and interpret my direction. In the case of our DP, I had told him to re-create the scene, he was pretending to audition for, by imaging that he was relaxing in a bubble bath and attempting to seduce the reader with his knowledge of cultural references. After stunning him with such insanity, I then ordered him to “bubble up!” Since then, the phrase has become standard language for the rest of the cast and crew. In one sense, it plays to the energetic and sometimes goofy nature of our life on set. But in another, it reflects the bubbling passion and serious dedication we all possess on set. For me personally, it also matches the nature of my own state during the shooting process. For the majority of my time on set, I am trying to remain relaxed and focused while directing my actors and crew, but when filming is over and I find myself sprawled out on the floor, trying to process the day’s events, 30 types of emotions tend to bubble inside me: relief, joy, emptiness, fullness, excitement, exhaustion, disappointment, disbelief, to name a few.
Now, a day later, I still struggle to sort those emotions but look forward to the shooting days ahead with my ridiculously crazy and hard-working family of filmmakers.