Thursday, November 8, 2012

Making Movies

Henry has been filming a movie over the past three weeks.  The movie is called Broken Horses and he plays the younger version of the main character (played by Christopher Marquette). His father gets shot, he is manipulated by a cartel type thug, and kills someone all in the first ten minutes.  The director is Indian (Vinod Vishnu Chopra) and has wanted to make a  Hollywood film for a long time.  This is his baby.  He has poured his heart and soul into the project and I hope it's going to be quite something.  Think No Country for Old Men meets Alpha Dog?  The bad guy is Vincent d'Onofrio, and when Henry acted with him I was freaking out over his mad skills.  In every take he pulled out something new, like a jigsaw puzzle of intensity. Vincent is a method actor, which means he totally stays in character for the duration of the filming.  He drives a pick-up truck to shoots and sits by himself a lot brooding.  Remember Full Metal Jacket?  sheesh.  It's pretty amazing for Henry to act in a scene with someone like that.

Henry dyed his hair dark brown to look more like the main character, and he wears dark contacts too.  I hardly recognize him.  His agent and manager both like the new look, so I wonder if he will be dying his roots for awhile?  I continue to lighten my own hair, trying to recapture the golden locks of my youth, so I know it's no picnic the price we pay for fake color.  Seems like a lot of upkeep for a young teen.  On set Henry has his own personal contact attendant.  She just follows him about and puts eye drops in his eyes.  He also has a set teacher, make up technician, wardrobe assistant, and a hair stylist to attend to his every need.  Henry also has a stand in double for when the shot needs to be set up and he wants to sit down and rest.  Poor kid. 

It's weird to see so many people circling Henry.  He's my kid but I feel underfoot.  Everyone is really nice about it, but it's obvious that I am most useful when least involved.  Mostly I try to keep him in my sights, but also stay out of the whirlwind.  I grab him snacks and hot tea and all that, and keep track of his book.  Being a stagemom is really a social game.  Mostly everyone wants me to not make waves, but they also want me to keep the crazy set teacher and any other (much crazier) moms out of their hair.  So I am stuck talking all day with an uber Mormon stagemom who used to sing high soprano on Broadway and can still do the splits (just ask her) and the set teacher who was a college football quarterback, turned Days of Our Lives actor, turned rock and roll star, turned set teacher.  Never have I been through a weirder election cycle than listening to the conservative Mormon mom talk politics with the school of hard rock teacher.  Good stuff.

The movie is being shot about an hour North of Los Angeles in hills that make me think of Steinbeck's East of Eden, with all the California reverie and then some.  The days have been perfect with black crows and golden tumbleweed.  Just like a dream (or a movie).  Go figure.  There are several experts on set who specialize in dust.  I am not kidding.  They hold bags of dust in front of giant fans and give the landscape that certain haze where fantasy and reality disintegrate.

My little boy walks toward camera.  He has a dust halo.  He looks taller somehow and strange in his dark hair.  Several dozen professionals close around him.  My eyes burn and I wonder if it is the dust or tears.  This is what we came for.  The Mormon mom is saying something again and I nod before I even know what she needs.  Yes.  I want to go and get some tea.  I heard they just put out banana bread... 

Rereading your last post I wonder why I can't use the time on set to write lists and make my own goals about the future.  I don't know.  I feel like I should be able to do that, but even my book remains unopened most of the time.  The last month I have been living and breathing my kid's dream, and I want to be present with Henry before his reality changes.  It is impossible to think that he will change entirely, but it is also certain he has found the world he wants to live in and that stagemoms are only welcome for a limited amount of time.  I am savoring this window into what it means to be an actor and make movies.  It seems like a good life.  They all eat very well and tell stories with a purse of gold.  If dust gets in their eyes, a friendly assistant will saline solution away the irritation.  Problem solved.