Thursday, December 6, 2012

the filming

I was to be in three (or four) scenes which we would film over a scattering of days for the following two weeks. Each scene was only about two or three minutes long in the movie, but could take about five hours to film, since every angle had to be shot three or four times - for editing purposes - and if any of the actors messed up they would have to do even more takes.

I met with George at his office and sat down. "Let's go over the script," he said.

"I never got one in my email," I said.

"I know, I didn't send one. I mean, let's go over it now. Help me with what sounds right in English."

This process actually became more exciting to me than only speaking a script in a few scenes. Now, in a sense, I had become part of the creation of the movie, which was all the more thrilling to me, even if it was just helping to write lines for four small scenes.

After we went over the script, we walked over to the actual studio. We entered into a warehouse. The first room was a sitting area, and then through another room there was what appeared to be a hospital. But upon closer examination, the wear and tear of the ersatz visage was showing through. The edges of the wallpaper were off, the signs were scribbles. It was where you would put someone if you drugged them and wanted to convince them they were in a hospital - or where you would film a hospital show, which was what it was actually for. I couldn't help myself thinking of the former use though, imagining some dystopian Philip K Dick story being set in the studio.

I met with Nino, the costume makeup girl. "Are these clothes all right?" I was wearing my banker shirt and green pants, as she instructed me.

"Uh-huh," she said. She sat me down and started putting makeup all over my face. As my face blanched out and lost its shine - and with the lights glaring directly in my eyes - I reminded myself of a vampire. An American Producer vampire, but rather than the moment developing into a Tim Burton farce vampire film, the girl added on some blush and tone and suddenly I had color again. My moment of immortality was fading. I was then ushered back through the hospital and into a room decorated as an office. We made it through two scenes after about six or seven hours. Most of that was spent standing around while people adjusted lights and fake plants.

"You okay? You're fine?" George kept asking me in between rounds of filming, "You're not too bored are you?"

"I'm good," I said. "The whole process is interesting to me." And it was. I'd never been on a movie set before, leave alone been a part of the movie. And I was understanding of the need to do all the takes and retakes, since I have to do that while making music anyway. And considering that there's multiple people and video involved, then it's all the more consuming of a process.

In-between scenes, they gave out beer and candy bars. It wasn't exactly what I had expected, after years of Hollywood movies telling me how movies were supposedly filmed, with tables and tables of food and drink, but I was happy with it nevertheless. I stood waiting outside, watching the crew unload and reload the truck. George stood outside with me, asking me different questions about Georgian culture and telling me his own thoughts on American culture - he had lived in New York for several years. It was an interesting exchange. I saw on his jacket the name, "Jorjadze." "So that's your last name?"

"Yeah, it is," he said.

"You're name is Giorgi Jorjadze?"

"That's why everyone around here calls me 'George.'"

"Oh, I was thinking it was because -" I stopped myself.


"I thought that was just because you're name was Giorgi."

"Nope, it's because my surname is Jorjadze," he said, taking a sip from his beer.

"Oh," I said, taking a sip from my own beer.

Most of the time I was silent, drinking coffee or beer in-between scenes while listening and watching the rest of the cast do their own takes. I learned a few more words in Georgian as I heard them said over and over. "Sichume," for "quiet!" and "trakhshi vart" for "we're fucked" were the two that really got ingrained in my head.

The other three scenes we filmed at the airport one afternoon and at the Old Town and at Mtatsminda, the first scene during the day and the other two in the evening. Each scene was fairly quick to do once everything was set up, but everything took a long time to set up, which meant we were mostly just standing around again, as per usual.

At the airport, George wasn't there, as he wasn't in the scene. But the other guys who I had met briefly the day before, three more Gios and some Ninos, were all there. Each of them was friendly and inviting in their own way, though everyone's English was fairly limited and most of our talking was in my broken Georgian mixed with grunts. One Gio spoke Russian at least and was telling me a story about his time starring in King Lear at the Rustaveli Theatre some twenty years ago. "That was the Golden Age of Georgian theatre, the nineties. That was when I was in my prime." I took his word for it.

At the airport, I kept running into people I knew. "Dato! How are you? Sopo! How are you?" I was beginning to feel more famous than all the famous Georgian people I was around. It was a bit odd how a great deal of Georgians whom I knew had just decided to go to the airport that day. And it was pure coincidence, as I had told no one about the filming. But then, here word travels faster than a fart in the wind, so it wouldn't have surprised me if they all knew about it somehow.

The next filming day I had scenes again with George again. We were out at night, which meant we were standing around in the cold, waiting for the camera and mic to be set in all their various positions. One scene we did on the bridge in Old Town and the next we did up in Mtatsminda Park, where George and I had a scene on a carousel moving around and around (which is part of the trailer to the film). After our scenes I waited around for a couple of more scenes to be shot, so it was a good thing we had stopped by the store and bought some beer before hand. 

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