Two Very Different Developments – March 2011

I have been trying, over the last few months to increase my understanding of the film making process. Whilst on Violet City, I’ve been trying to learn about camera angles, ‘crossing the line’, sound and editing. This month I started an internship at Hurricane Films, a local production company responsible for the excellent Of Time And the City. I was rather nervous to begin with, basically because, until now, I have never worked in an office. Hurricane is different to how I imagined office jobs though, there’s very little in the way of spreadsheets, data-inputting and other things I pretend to understand, but don’t. Instead I was asked to read through some scripts that had been sent in by people across the continent. The idea is that I read over them, see if they are interesting, well written and, most importantly, filmable and then, submit a report recommending whether or not they deserve a further look. I enjoy reading. I read all the time, about a book a week in fact, but I don’t feel I’m any authority on script writing. However, once I read over the script report form, it became very clear how I should approach the script, what to look out for, character and plot development etc. Once I’d submitted a few, (some warranted a further look, some didn’t) I learned that the ones I’d dismissed I was right to dismiss and the ones I’d recommended I was right to recommend… Woohoo! I CAN work in an office.

March also brought a very different project to me. I was contacted by Lucy, an old friend to ask whether or not I could help out on a film. She was make up HOD, but couldn’t do the last day of filming – could I step in? Always looking for new opportunities, I jumped at the chance to work with a new film crew. The film is called ‘The Secret Diaries of Mona Lisa’ and basically tries to explain why she had that enigmatic smile. Of course, its complete fiction, as early 16th Century Italy is recreated in 21st Century Walton. I was emailed a few pages of the script detailing the couple of scenes left to film. The biggest job was to turn an actress into Mona Lisa – a challenge enough in itself – did you ever notice Mona Lisa has no eyebrows and curly hair? Me neither.

On arriving on set I was asked to get Stephen into character asap. There was no Stephen in my script…eeek! Turns out, Stephen is the actor playing a feral savage, living in the woods. He required a shaggy beard, dirt all over and blacked out teeth. I had brought only pretty make up to create Mona Lisa. Eeek again. Thankfully they had a wig for him, which I cut bits out of to create the beard. I always carry mastix with me, and for some reason, I always have some fake blood to hand. This, combined with black eyeshadow, made a pretty decent dirty grubby body and face. Blacked out teeth was a problem, I hadn’t brought any tooth stain with me, but as the fake blood is edible and, we reasoned, he is a savage, it was decided that bloodstained teeth were just as effective.

Faith as Mona Lisa

Next was Mona Lisa, played by Faith, a young student actress from Manchester. There wasn’t time to create the frizzy tight curls of the original painting, so soft ringlet curls had to suffice. We got to filming just as the sun was setting, a beautiful golden light across the fields, far from the noise of the outside world, filming the creation of a true masterpiece, the serenity broken only by Mona Lisa treating us to an impromptu performance of Jessie J’s ‘Do it like a Dude’. A truly surreal experience.

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