I made my *LA theatrical debut* this weekend, shooting a USC student short film. (Trumpet fanfare! Bears on tricycles! Gum!) I played Wendy the waitress, for your consideration. We shot at Astro Family Restaurant, where you can order up some fried zucchini and balance that out with “jumbo ground beef patty” which is listed under their diet menu. It’s a cozy place to tuck into greasy spoon comfort food.
But we had other work to do. I arrived and was greeted with “OK, the restaurant’s kinda pissed at us” and I knew it was going to be guerrilla student filming night. Muzak played throughout the shoot as our small army of crew and talent huddled like overeager sardines in the back of the diner. Talon, the child actor, had a studio tutor working with him on set. I, had my wardrobe in my bag, extra makeup just in case, and red eyes and a puffy face from having just put Syrus down a few hours earlier. I. Was. READY. And then I noticed that there were actual people eating in the area where we were shooting. A few feet away from “set”, was a table with three, overweight, very old, hard of hearing, priests. It was like a movie in itself. Here’s an example of the background noise while we were shooting: Mexican woman server “You want the tomato?” Priest with the oxygen tank “HEH?” Server “YOU WANT TOMATO?” Priest to other priest “WHAT DID SHE SAY?” Skinnier priest “TO-MA-TO” Oxygen priest to skinny priest “UP YOURS WITH A MEAT HOOK” Me to myself “Oh my god, can priests say that?” Server to oxygen priest “I BRING IT ON THE SIDE.” We also had to order $150 worth of food to be able to shoot in Astro. So also during the shoot, the poor server woman was bringing food to us. [Action! “…Who has cheeseburger??” Cut.] After a while it was my shot. I wondered if anyone was going to have a look at my wardrobe and see what I should wear, how I should do my hair (back? A bun?), was my makeup ok? And essentially, what I did was step into the scene in my street clothes. So, my waitress wore cargos, a t-shirt and had her hair down. Food service laws be damned! I only wish I had been wearing open toed shoes and a bikini. “Ya’ll want the usual tonite?” I did a few takes while the lighting operator held the one light (hopefully in the same place) and hoped I looked halfway decent and that this will miraculously turn into something I can use for my reel.
By the end, I was glad to have met some cool people, and have a little more experience filming. When I was wrapped for the night, I went up to the counter and ordered myself a giant chocolate milkshake on the film’s tab. I got it to go in a paper cup, drove the 5 minutes home, washed my face and curled up in bed with my free $5 shake, while falling asleep to “Selling New York” on Hulu… dreaming of the day when I’ll be making actual money shooting amazing films. With less priests in them.