Thursday, March 11, 2010
(Originally posted on Facebook)
Day Three, February 16, Waimanalo Horse Ranch
Waimanalo Horse Ranch
I had a later call time for Day Three because they didn’t need a full crew for their morning shoot. Although being able to sleep in was a nice treat, the fact that they didn’t need me in the morning just added to the drop in importance I felt after the previous day’s equipment guarding session. No worries, each day is a new day, and as it turned out, the experience I gained on the Waimanalo horse ranch would lead to a positive shift of my gopher status.
The shoot called for only four actors and slightly more crew, so it was a more intimate set. It was also another beautiful location, the lush ranch tucked beneath the gaze of the iconic green hills of Hawai’i. Only one of the three actors scheduled to ride the horse had ever done it before, and his task was to fall off it in slow motion. The other two—Blaze and female lead, Chante—took a crash course in horseback riding—bareback, nonetheless. And while Blaze was responsible for steering the horse, Chante had to sit behind him while playing a harp with no pants on. Modelling ain’t as simple as it seems.
While the cast didn’t have it easy, neither did some of the crew, e.g. me. My task was to stand in the meadow holding the lights. Simple task, save for the fact that I was wearing shorts in an insect-infested field. My bare lower legs were soon covered with so many bug bites that if one were to connect the dots, the resulting picture would be a spider web design. Or maybe shattered glass. Standing still was never so hard.
The shoot progressed and I was able to move around a bit, lessening only slightly the frequency by which my legs were attacked. Nonetheless, it was enough relief for my mind to focus on something else, namely, how to assemble and operate the lights. It wasn’t difficult at all; open a tripod, attach the head, flip some switches. However, the fact that I was one of maybe three or four people on set who could do this with confidence elevated me to a higher gopher status. Maybe even, dare I say, some sort of “assistant” status. I’m sure my ability to fold a spring-open reflector solidified this ascension.
The best part of the day, however, came in the late afternoon when we waited around an hour or so for the sun to sink behind the hills. During that time, we, the crew, and the principle cast just hung out. We got to know each other a little better. We traded jokes, tried out tongue-twisters, spoke in several languages (okay, that was mostly the stylist, Patrick, who could speak French, German, Italian, Spanish, and a little bit of everything else). I even got to crack a whip! By the time the lighting was just right and we set up for the last shot, I felt to be on equal status with the rest of the crew.
Day Four, February 17th, Paradise Park/Manoa Falls
Day Four was a big shot that called for heavy transportation of about twenty cast members (I still cannot decide if I want to call them models or actors). I revived my role as head of the shuttle service, picking up seven people—and a dog—on three separate outings. We had started early again and by 7 AM, had a full house ready to move out. Amit explained to the crowd that we would be caravanning to an abandoned wildlife park known as Paradise Park. It was closed to the public so we would essentially be trespassing. There shouldn’t be any problems, he assured us. Amit then asked the crew members to raise their hand so the cast members could indentify us should they need help. Dispersed amongst the model-actors, we crew members indentified ourselves accordingly. I stood with a proud hand high, my inside smile unknown to the sea of gazes. Yes, I thought, I am special.
My elite status continued as the crew all rode together in one van while the cast was split up in the others. We drove to a parking lot near the park and from there, shuttled people one vanload at a time to the final destination. The reason? Our destination was a loosely-locked chainlink gate off the side of the road. We had to squeeze through the narrow opening, trek through some heavy foliage and uneven ground, and cross a huge ditch by way of a wobbly wooden plank—all while carrying the equipment. I walked toward the clearing on the other side, wondering if the cast knew what they were getting into, when my thoughts were interrupted by sheer elation. In the middle of that clearing was a giant, rusty cage recognizable by some as Kate and Sawyer’s prison during the third season of ABC’s Lost. I was on a hit TV show’s set! Admittedly, I knew beforehand that they had filmed part of Lost in Paradise Park, but I did not expect the set to be instantly recognizable. I mean, the friggin’ Dharma Initiative symbol was plastered on the canvas tent right in front of me! It was going to be a good day. . .
(you can see Kate and Sawyer’s cage on the left and just barely make out the Dharma Initiative symbol on the canvas tent through the right cage)
. . . Until we got chased off by some park officials. We had just gotten most of the cast to the rendezvous spot (one could not cross the bridge, while several others needed much convincing), when two women caught us and sent us packing. With full equipment on hand we trudged back across the bridge, through the foliage and uneven ground, and back through the gate.
Plan B: Manoa Falls. Right up the road from the chainlink gate was a legitimate entrance to a legitimate park. Manoa Falls is a lush, green forest area snuggled in Manoa Valley, famous for its hiking trails and, of course, the waterfalls. We moved our entire production to the cool, shaded area surrounded by trees. It was perfect for our shoot, better than Paradise Park would have been, claimed Amit. Yet, even though I was surrounded by breathtaking nature, my good mood was due to my increasing feeling of importance. Daeja trusted me enough to instruct me without supervising me. “Set up a light over there,” “Move the head when he crosses that point,” “Can you make sure he sets up that light correctly?” I was needed. I was happy.
By the end of the day, most of the cast and some of the crew took off while a skeleton crew stayed back with two cast members, shooting the last few scenes of the day. I was a part of that skeleton crew. We wrapped up by mid-afternoon and Amit treated us to Boston’s Pizza. We split a large spinach garlic (restaurant’s creation) and a large pineapple jalapeno (Amit’s creation). Both were tremendously delicious. Sitting at the large, round table, we traded more jokes and stories. One of the cast members that stayed with us was a girl named Lauren, a UH student with a nice smile.
We got back to Amit’s house around sunset and I started packing up to head home. “You want to hang out for a while?” Amit asked. “You’re part of the family now.”
So I stayed.
Part III will include the forbidden trail (promised for this part but not included), the house party, the abandoned reservoir, and my attempt at working this gig while studying for my Bubba Gump job.
By Daeja Fallas, from her album “Gen and the daises.” Double exposure of San Francisco and Hawaii. www.daejafallas.com