Archives for posts with tag: director

Bad Seed PosterFriday is opening night for a naughty 1950’s play by renowned writer Maxwell Anderson.  ‘Bad Seed’, the last Broadway success before his death, is a devilish mother/daughter tale of secrecy and murders. Anderson wrote numerous plays, and movies including ‘Death Takes a Holiday’, ‘Joan of Arc’, and Hitchcock’s ‘The Wrong Man’.  A masterpiece play, adapted from William March’s long-awaited novel “The Bad Seed”, it ran on  Broadway five months and was later made into two movies.  Studios changed the ending in the first version, because the 1956 audience could not accept such an appalling conclusion where the villain … (no spoilers), and it was nominated for four Academy Awards- including ‘Best Director’ for British Mervyn LeRoy.

Having been asked to audition by the director of this 2014 incarnation, I watched the second, color version of the movie, with David Carradine among the cast, dressed and practiced my best Southern accent, then dutifully showed up to try out for a part. Producer/director, Henry Brewer, immediately offered me the role of the mother and sent me home with a copy of the play.  Mrs. Christine Bravo Penmark is a woman, a character, I strongly did not like.  I was repulsed by her, and because of this intense response, I knew this was going to be a challenge, a good opportunity to stretch me beyond bounds of comfort.  One of her first lines is “I’m not very self-sufficient.”; Completely not me, and this ‘weakness’ is probably what turned me off to start.

Neither of the movies does justice to the play, something is lost even though Anderson is responsible for the screenplay.  Much of the Broadway cast was in the original black and white movie, but I turned it off half-way through supposedly due to a distaste for the acting style of the time, with one exception- the actress who plays Mrs. Daigle- Eileen Heckart, who won a Golden Globe for her performance.  My undertaking thrills and terrifies me, because the part is grande- the tale truly is twisted and violent- and the emotions are quite extreme.  Breathing life into fully experiencing these six days of Christine’s life is well worth all the work.

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-One person’s sole job is wetting the sidewalk, over and over Birdmanand over again- all night for five plus hours to keep it wet and give that slick, reflecting light look the camera loves (technical term is a “wet down”).

-Another person’s duty is putting smoke in the air: more smoke, less smoke, walk it through the set or location, fan it because there’s too much, the haziness is overwhelming the scene.

-One man (sadly it is a male dominated business, but what isn’t) is on a crane with a big spot-light to simulate a helicopter flyover in the shot.

I have not even mentioned the director, the stunts co-ordinator, or the caterer.  The point is- that long list of “credits” at the end of every [big budget $300 million dollar budget] movie prove just how many creative collaborators are necessary to manifest the entertainment we all spend our money to escape into for a couple hours of unbelievable safe excitement.

These people are Living what they dream.  They simply do not last otherwise because the stress is so immense one must Love it to stay in this business of SHOW.  With so many cooks in the kitchen, havoc and head-butting are sure to abound.  And yet we choose to show-up and take more work opportunities because the thrill to be a part is so rewarding.

This week I learned a new title- staff assistant- a position responsible to the A.D.s (Assistant Director- no explanation necessary right, the title is pretty self-explanatory), of which there are three: the first A.D., the Second A.D. and the Second 2nd.  Usually, there are a handful of staff assistants to act as extra hands, eyes, mouths for the Assistant Directors.  One such ‘staff assistant’ informed me on a recent day of filming 180 staff assistants were on-hand for a huge location shoot requiring the shut-down of a large well-know New York street!  I live by the motto/sutra “Do unto others…” and there for am genuinely friendly and interested in most everyone on-set; one because I am so thankful and happy to be there and two we are all there to accomplish the same goal so LET US HAVE FUN!

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