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Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Quiet on set...


(This is Al Pacacino relaxing between takes on the set of 'Two Weeks')


I just spent the last six days on a film set.  It was amazing.  A cast of four, a crew of twelve.  A short-film.  An experience I'll never forget.

I've been on a film set before.  But I was learning to crew and so focused on just getting my bit right, that I never really took in the whole experience.

But this time I was the "talent".  So my job didn't start until the camera started rolling.  That means there was a bit of waiting around for sets to be dressed, shots to be organised, cameras to set up, lighting to organise.

I felt wide-eyed and in the way sometimes watching this crew work their magic to turn night into day, make lighting look natural, lay cables, tape up marks and a myriad of other things.

I won't lie, it was intimidating in a way knowing that all their hard work was for one reason - to capture the actors performance.

The short story was an intense one.  A family break up, a husband's despair, a wife's frustration, and the children coming to grips with their world falling apart.

I was amazed by the young girl, Ashley, who played my movie daughter.  She played the rebellious, sulking, angry teenager to a tee.  I know her performance helped me find a level of anxiety I needed to find in some scenes.  My movie husband's performance of a hapless, weak, desperate man helped me dig deep to find frustration and repulsion.

Thankfully no one was overtly method in their approach and we could relax between takes, pulling the emotional intensity together when we heard the words "QUIET ON SET".  Taking that moment to find your character between that moment and when the director yelled "ACTION".

Some of the perks were pretty fun too.  Someone there to take care of all our needs.  Thirsty? Hungry? Hot? Cold?  Our First AD would organise everything we needed to make sure we were comfortable on set.  (I'm not sure I can convince my children to keep doing that for me now I'm at home!)

But what I enjoyed most of all, was finding the character of Marnie.  A determined, steely, hard-ass.  A woman frustrated by her life.  A woman seeking change.  A woman dealing with the consequences of her decisions.  Most people aren't going to find her character sympathetic at all.  But it was fun finding her.  It was fun playing her.  It was fun not being me for a while.

The last day of shooting was a long one.  It started at midday and ended at midnight.  The final scenes I shot were very emotional.  I was staying with a friend and I went back to their place and just crawled under the sheets and crashed.  I was that wrecked.  Emotionally, mentally, and physically.

Driving home from the shoot the next day, I cried the whole way home.  I cried because it was sad it was over, I cried because I think even though the movie won't show this part - I think she would have cried as she drove away from her family.  I cried because even though finding Marnie was difficult, letting her go was harder.

Today I am back to real life, and even though it was less than 24 hours ago. It already feels a lifetime away.

Now begins the long impatient wait while the crew edit the film before it's release.  The fun is only just beginning for them.  I can't wait to see it!

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

There's no business like show business


Two weeks.  That's the name of the movie I start acting in tomorrow.  Yep. That's right. I'm moving from stage to screen (HA!)

It's a short film  about a woman who chooses to leave her marriage and children.  The children are going to remain with the dad for the most part, but the mum will have access.  It's a scenario played out in real life all too often.

The movie is told from the teenage daughter's perspective.    My character, the mum, comes across like a cold, hard bitch.  She's had enough. She wants out.

It's going to be interesting playing this role, because I've been through a divorce.  It's just that I was on the other side of it.

The last few months, learning lines and researching my character has been very interesting.  It's made me understand my ex-husband so much better.  Oh, there's lots of things I'll never understand, don't get me wrong.  There are some behaviours you can never excuse.

But I think I understand a little better the process he went through to make the decision to leave his marriage and his kids.

I understand now it wasn't as black and white as what I thought. There are always shades of grey.  Not 50 in this case....maybe just 49.

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Should old acqaintance be forgot...


Normally, I like to make resolutions.  Lose weight, get fit, do more gardening, try to be a better person...the usual.  Every year by January 4th I'm eating too much cheese, lying on the couch trying to stay cool in the heat, watching the plants die from lack of watering and generally just being the same person I was the year before.

So this year my attitude is FUCK IT.  I'm not making any resolutions.

Roll on 2015 - I'll handle you just the way I am.


Tuesday, 16 December 2014

We are family...or are we?


I need to state up front that I love my family.  I do.  They have, for better or worse, helped me to become the person I am today.   In some ways, it's despite them that I am the person I am today.  I have made conscious choices and decisions to live my life the way I do.  They helped me form my moral code.  Sometimes, their beliefs helped me form completely different moral codes from them.  But at the end of the day, these people don't get me and I don't get them.  I am trying to find a way to be okay with this.

Sometimes I'm comfortable with the fact that most of them have different political and social beliefs than me. After all, life would be boring if we were all the same. Sometimes I'm utterly outraged by the different stances they take.

There are conversational topics that I've learnt to avoid because who needs the stress of a family argument?  Sometimes I feel so moved by a topic that I have no choice but to speak my thoughts and then deal with the inevitable fall out.  These times are never good.

I've made life choices which with they disagree. I deal with the passive aggressive comments they throw at me because they don't have the balls to just confront me directly or have a conversation with me to try and understand why I've made the choices I've made.  They're not interested in the why's of my life.  As far as they're concerned I'm wrong, they're right and that's the end of it.  This is frustrating because I'm the type of person that tries to at least understand where the other person is coming from before I decide to live and let live.  I'm not afforded the same respect.  But I've made the choice to let this slide to keep the family peace. Sometimes it frustrates me to the point of screaming.  So I do.  To one or two trusted friends.  For a long time I just assumed this was the pull/push dynamic of families.

But recently, I've seen other families interact on a more intimate scale and I've come to realise that not all families are like mine.  Some actually love, support, understand and celebrate each other.  To me, this is a wondrous gift and one that should be treasured.  I must admit to a little bit of envy as I watch them lovingly tease each other, celebrate each others successes and support each other through the trying times.

It's around Christmas time that I become reflective about my family, because traditionally it's the time you spend with them.   But the people I want to spend time with this year, well it's not really my family.  It's my friends.  The family I've chosen for myself.  The people that I'm NOT related to, that I actually relate to.  It's taken me a while to find them, but boy am I grateful I have.








Monday, 17 November 2014

It's not unusual...

Friendship is awesome.  I really rate friendship.  Like the quote goes, they are the family you choose for yourself.  I love my little family and recently it expanded.  I'm happy about this expansion.  But some people in my life are questioning my latest friendship and I'm over it.

I'm 44.  My best female friend is 28.  We met eight years ago.  She was fresh out of school, I was fresh out of a marriage.  We were both attending the same college, so that's how we met.  Our friendship grew slowly.  Mainly because I was very wary of people after a longstanding, unhealthy relationship.  But over time came trust and a recognition that despite the age gap we are very similar people, but with enough differences to make life interesting.  We've had a lot of firsts together and as time passes I know more and more that she is a person I can count on.  It might help that she's perhaps a little old for her age and I'm a little young, but really at the end of the day, all that matters is that I have a supporting, loving friend in her and she in me.

Then there's my gay bestie.  I've written about him before.  He's 27 and basically the male version of me. Together we are outrageous, hilarious, occasionally bitchy but forever loyal to each other.

I have one other bestie.  A woman my age.  She's bitingly sarcastic, smart and brutally honest and in some ways as messed up as I am (hey who doesn't go through life with SOME baggage?).

No one bats an eyelid at these three relationships.

My friends range in age from 21 to 72 and are a balanced mix of male and female.  They are all in different stages of life, but all of them are wonderful, loving, giving human beings that I count myself blessed to have.  They are people that are fun to hang out with, who make me laugh and are easy to be around.  But do I trust them with anything other than "social Bec"?  Well, to be honest, no.

But recently I've made a new friend.  I've known them about 5 months now and our friendship has developed fast.  I don't make REAL friends quickly.  Oh I'm a friendly person, outgoing and happy to chat with anyone (well almost anyone).  But I don't trust people easily and I also like to have my space from people.  Even those I love best.  Normally after several hours with them I'm ready to have some downtime.  I'm also very careful about who I let into my space as I'm super protective of it.  This is a hangover from a long term unhealthy relationship where I didn't feel safe in my own home.  I love having people over, but I hesitate to ask them over because I know after a while I'll start to get anxious about them being in my space. It's nothing to do with them, but it's a feeling I get that I have to control.  Logically, I know I am safe with them in my space.  But physically/emotionally my body/heart gets into flight or fight mode - just in case.

But this friend  is different.  I don't know how or when but they crept past every defence I have and I feel stripped bare in front of them - and it's okay.   I have been lonely in some aspects of my life, that not even my best friends really understand and I had just grown to accept that that feeling was a part of life.  I had accepted that the bad relationship I'd been in had left a permanent mark and I would never be that soft, vulnerable, loving person I would like to be. And then BAM along comes this person and I find out that I can.  Even more than that, I don't get anxious when they're sharing my space.  There's no flight or fight glitch going off in my body. It's a revelation. A totally scary, totally awesome, freaking me out of my mind revelation.

And yet other people are judging this friendship.  They are questioning me on it.  They are talking to each other about it and expressing how they find it odd.  They've even been telling me straight up how they feel a little weird about it.

So why I am getting such comments?  Because he's 21.  Because I'm 44.  Because he's straight.  Because apparently a straight man and a straight woman with such an age gap, shouldn't have the friendship that we have.  I've heard enough Mrs Robinson jokes in the last 5 months to last a lifetime.  And it's not like that.

It bothered me a lot at first.  It made me question why this relationship, which seems so strange to others, feels completely natural to the two of us.  But it does.  So I'm not going to question it anymore. I'm not going to give a damn what others think.  I'm going to value this friendship, because it's unique and special and because it deserves it.

Oh and if you're wondering why My Little Pony? Well, keep wondering - that's a private joke! ;)

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Happy days


Yesterday  was a good day.  And for no special reason.  I realised I was happy when I turned out the light to go to sleep and caught myself whistling a jaunty (yes jaunty) little tune.  I stopped and thought for a minute and then I realised I was happy.  I was content.  Instead of trying to analyse why, I just let myself bask in the moment.  My eyes were squeezed shut and a huge grin spread over my face and I stretched out my body along the sheets and wiggled my toes and just let myself be happy.   What a glorious moment.

So today I reflected, what made me feel so happy yesterday when nothing spectacular happened?  And then I realised; it was all the little things.

I had an awesome cup of coffee.  A really good brew.  And I sipped it slowly, savouring it instead of just trying to get the caffeine into me as quickly as possible.

I got everything I needed to do at work, done.  An empty inbox is a wonderful sight to see.

A friend popped by for a coffee. He's a jewellery designer.  He's re-working my engagement/wedding/eternity rings.  I've been divorced 10 years and I love those rings, those jewels and he's created the perfect design that honours their past meaning and yet reflects the life I lead today.

A newly made friend sent me hilarious snapchats through the day and had me laughing out loud in sheer delight.  Never underestimate the power of a genuine belly laugh.  How good does that make you feel?!

I caught up with some more friends for dinner.  We ate good Asian food and talked nonsense around the dinner table.  I was home by 9pm and took one of those indulgent, rarely had, 10 minute showers and let my body really feel the warm, pressurised-exactly-right-water pelt my shoulders.  I went to bed, my ever-adoring poodle, Jude, curled up at my feet.

Happy, content, and just being.

Thursday, 18 September 2014

It ain't over til the fat lady sings...



Therefore it's over.   I'm in a local amateur theatre show (The Metropolitan Musical Theatre's "My Fair Lady - come and see it please!  Tickets at www.metmusicals.com.au).  And one of my helpful cast members taped a rehearsal so we could practice a particularly complicated dance routine.

I started to watch the video and wondered where I was and who the fat lady was who seemed to be where I thought I was.  Yup. It was me.  Now granted, I was in baggy rehearsal gear and granted "the camera adds 10 pounds" but to misquote Chandler (to Monica in Friends) - HOW MANY CAMERAS WERE ON ME?

I know I've put on 10 kilograms,   I know I'm still 20 kilograms lighter than what I weighed at my heaviest.  I know my body has changed due to age and two babies, and weirdly, part of it isn't even the extra 10 kilos (I'm prepared for middle aged spread to some extent), what shocked me was the way I moved.

I've always been a dancer.  Since age 4.  I've always considered myself light on my feet, and pretty damn good on the d-floor.  Truth be told, dancing is when I feel my fittest, strongest, most powerful and sexiest.

But watching this video I saw someone clunky.  Someone who had to brace herself to get up from the floor, the way my elderly aunty does when she gets out of a chair.  I saw someone huffing and puffing to get her legs up for the spring kicks and someone who looked like she pounded the floor when she "elegantly waltzed" around the floor in the ballroom scene.

It shocked me to the core.  More than the ever-increasing waistline measurement, more than the 'oh-dear-I-have-to-buy-the-next-size-up moment in the dressing room.  Because this is something I've always prided myself on.  I've never really been hung up on my weight.  I've been skinny and I've been fat and everything in between and my self-esteem was not tied up in the number on the scale.

But this ungraceful, heavy, huffing, puffing, middle aged woman careening inelegantly away on the dance floor was not someone I found attractive, sexy or powerful.  So it's time to put down the fork full of schnitzel and hit the gym.  I'm not going to weigh myself, now or later, but I am going to, once again, feel light on my feet.