Actually, there was no third lunch on
Tuesday night. But there was a lot of overtime. By most accounts, something of a sudden
The workday, if you're counting, was 17 hours long,
although I noticed in the telling that number might sometimes fluctuate upward. But there
was no need to exaggerate. Seventeen hours is a long day.
"By the end we'd just about had it," Curtis said, meaning the PAs.
"I don't know if it's the endorphins or dehydration or
what," Kyra said, "but by the end I was all
giggly. It was like we couldn't stop laughing."
I'm told that Jon uttered
the quote of the day, the bags under his eyes reaching his lips, near the end. I didn't
hear it. I was long gone.
What I did hear Jon say, on Wednesday, was: "We were
going to get the scene done, no matter what it took to get it done." He also said,
"But we won't be doing many more 17 hour days. It isn't exactly great for
Actually, it made one yearn for the simpler times, like
Monday, when the only complications were the Steadicam and a dog.
By the way, in the middle is the stand-in dog, which can't bark at all.
One of the complications of the shoot is the distance between the location
and the Principal Holding area, which is a big two blocks away.
Principal Holding is where the actors hang out, where they have their
dressing rooms, where wardrobe, hair and makeup work. And it's where Curtis Smith works.
Cutis is the First Team PA. "That means I have the actors," he
I'd gotten a chance to see Curtis work earlier in the week, when I'd sat
in Principal Holding for a couple of hours. What he does, in a nutshell, is, 1) make sure
the actors' needs are met, and 2) make sure the production's needs are met.
"It really sounds a lot easier than it sometimes is," he said to
A few years ago Curtis was working as a bricklayer in Detroit. He'd had
the job for eleven years, and he knew it wasn't the job he wanted to have for another
eleven. He went to broadcasting school, sure that his future lay in media, somehow.
And when he graduated he happened to get a job that Elizabeth Holder was working. It was an independent film
shooting in Detroit. Curtis says the production was about the same size as this one, only
instead of six or seven set PAs, it had one.
And that was Curtis.
"Take all the jobs that Stephanie and Julia and Brian and Ann and
Richie are doing, and me, too, on Cherry. I was doing them all on that
film. First team, production reports, all the work papers, give sides, make sure the
actors are prepared."
Which might sound like bad news, or bad luck, or whatever. But what it
meant was that Curtis handled all the work ably and without complaint. Or unreasonable
complaint, at least. And he learned a lot about how a movie gets made.
And when it was time for Elizabeth to staff Cherry she
hired Curtis, even though he had to come in from Detroit.
Judging by the tone of his voice, I have no doubt at 2 AM Wednesday
morning Curtis was wondering whether it was such a good move. But then he says, "I
always have a lot of fun. It can get stressful, but then I remind myself that I chose to
do this, and then it becomes fun again."
During the time we sat, a quiet time in Principal holding, Kelly and Caleb were getting
dressed for their scenes. Shalom waited patiently in her
dressing room. The kids parents read quietly, and when the kids were ready to go they
played in the hall between the dressing rooms.
Curtis built the dressing rooms. Did I mention that?
When Kyra needs a continuity problem solved to finish Kelly's hair, Curtis
is the communications link to the set.
When Caleb want to play a game called BS, Curtis is his likely opponent.
When Gil Rogers needs a ride into New York,
Curtis has the driver on his way.
When Heather and Aleksa need to be in class for studies, Curtis is most
likely the one reminding them it's time to go down the hall.
When the set is saying they need talent in 10 minutes, and hair/makeup
says it's going to take 15 minutes to get talent ready, Curtis is the guy firmly in
between them, handling the negotiations. The job, he says, is a lot about timing.
"A movie minute is about fifteen minutes of real time." Which
probably goes partway to explaining just how easily it can come to be two o'clock in the
morning, and time for a third dinner.
A dinner nobody wants to eat, thank you very much. Good night.