Over the weekend, I had the good fortune to work on Malarkey Films’ entry into Boston’s 48 hour film festival. Without giving too much away, I can tell you this: our movie was an action movie fairy tale, there was a copious amount of violence in it, and I played a rapier-wielding fairy princess.
I believe I’ve previously expressed the oddness of returning to acting. I had well and truly
thought that the portion of my life as a performer was over indefinitely and was slowly coming to the realization that that may be okay. For that, over the course of this year I’ve been hard at work as an actor, combatant, and general theatre-maker.
And I must admit that it’s been much more fun than I could have hoped. Being back in the theatre is extremely nurturing to my work and my little artist’s heart is lifted every time I get the chance to work on a project.
This project in particular was a challenge on several levels: first off physically. It’s been a few years since I’ve done any serious fight work (and this was serious fight work). We were on location shooting for nine hours, the bulk of that entailed either learning or performing choreography. Despite it being May, New England hasn’t quite gotten the “it’s Spring!” memo yet so the last few hours of our day turned much colder than what was truly optimal given the costuming I was wearing (though admittedly I was one of the more covered-up ladies in the entourage). Eventually, mental and physical fatigue just won over and to have that happen right when the weather started turning towards “not so comfortable anymore” was extremely disruptive to my groove.
Since this was a film, we were also shooting the story in not-necessarily-chronological pieces. Which meant that one of the last shots we got was one of the first shots in the film. Which meant that, despite being tired and cold, we had to muster the energy to be glowingly happy. It also means that I have a sneaking suspicion that my hair is going to look all kinds of strange in the opening scenes since they were shot after I had spent the day rolling around in forest foliage fighting for my life.
…hilarity also ensued when a grappling sequence meant that the DP, sound guy, and my fight partner were stuck picking leaves out of my hair for a good three minutes before and after every take of this phrase of our fight.
Another specific challenge with a film is the speed with which it requires committing dialogue to memory. In this instance, the writer was also the fight director and so was on set for the entirety of the shoot and gave us leave to adjust as necessary (with the exception of the one line which we were required to include as part of the parameters of the film festival…which of course happened to be my line). Short term memory is a funny and amazing thing and mine was well exercised over the course of Saturday. For that, it’s strange for a Shakespearean like myself to feel comfortable with adjusting dialogue to suit my own needs. The vast majority of my experience treats the text as doctrine: changing it is sacrosanct. Film, however, is a medium entirely different from stage and this was just one of the things that I had to accept and move on.
The finished product should be available on Malarkey’s website by week’s end. I have to say, I’m extremely excited to be seeing it on the big screen tomorrow. If nothing else, it was a welcome break from finals-writing.
For those keeping track, my last paper of coursework is due tomorrow. During the afternoon, I’ll be at Tufts speaking at the Graduate Research Symposium in the 2PM time slot if you happen to be around and want to hear about my work for ten minutes.
…just keep swimming.