Sunday, February 22, 2009

And the Oscar Goes To....

Mickey Rourke was robbed, there wasn't enough Hugh Jackman, there were no really funny jokes (except the great bit by Ben Stiller), previous winners talking about the people nominated instead of being able to see their work was totally lame and awkward, presenters doing four categories, no drama, suspense or dark-horse wins. Just blah all the way around. At least if Mickey Rourke had won there would have been someone with some real personality up there. But Yay! for Kate Winslet winning.

The Oscars should be about celebrating movies, and in recent years, in their attempt to make them less bloated and long (remember the 4 hour plus running time the year Titanic won?), they've lost some of their joy and fun. There should but one night out of the year where we can sit back with our favorite movie stars and just forget about the real world for awhile. But this shortened scenario makes me long for the good ol' days of funny humor, political jokes, Sean Penn defending Jude Law (which my friend Jeff also thought was a great Oscar moment), crazy long dance "interpretations" of the Best Original Score nominees, skits, clip montages, Adrien Brody deservedly winning for The Pianist and laying a big one on Halle Berry, hilarious opening sequences, and all the Jazz of Oscar telecasts. I blame the new Producer this year. Hopefully next year will be better.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Who's In It?

For those who kept asking me who's in the movie I'm working on, I can finally tell you that we have a big name next to all those no-name kid actors (unless you count the "star" we have that worked on "That's So Raven", and if you talk to the kids on our set who watch Disney Channel all the time, he is a star). Shoeless Joe Jackson himself, Ray Liotta, will be playing the lead kid's dad! Ray Liotta is pretty awesome, having starred in Goodfellas, Field of Dreams, and, one of my guilty pleasure favorites, Heartbreakers. Tomorrow will be his first day on set, and although it's a little weird to ask for their picture, I'll see what I can do. I'm also taking random pictures on set that I can hopefully get up and on here. I'm always just so tired at night, and Emily has yet to get internet at her home, that picture uploads haven't happened yet. Hopefully soon....

Until then, I'm enjoying our interior shooting days.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Two Days Off

So after re-reading my last entry, I realized that it was quite negative (and severely misspelled, and sort of just a rambling mess, but it was late when I wrote it after a long day of work). I don't mean to make it sound so awful, and if I wasn't working with the people that I was it would definitely be much more awful. Especially after yesterday.

Yesterday was our first late starting time because we had to shoot night scenes. The day started at 12:30 in the afternoon and we didn't wrap until 12:02. But as a PA, you don't get to leave at wrap (well, really, no one gets to leave at wrap except the director and producers); we have to deliver Call Sheets to all departments, make sure extras get signed out, wait for out times and pretty much stay til everything gets wrapped up. I didn't leave Park City until 1:30am.

The day was long, none of the kids were listening to me, especially the cast kids, it was cold and windy, and we were all ready for it to be over by about 8:00. We were shooting on an ice rink and all the kids just wanted to skate and have fun instead of get ready for the shots. Even our 1st AD (Assistant Director; he's the one who runs the set) was getting frustrated with the kids. But, as I said, if not for great people like him and the rest of the crew working together, it would be pretty awful. I know that Murphy (he's the AD) appreciates my work, he's easy to talk to, and he understands what we're dealing with. It's nice to have a good working environment.

And I have no idea why it's called Craft Services (we call it Crafty). My guess is that it stems from some long ago company, perhaps Craft, that started doing it and the name has sort of just stuck. Crafty gives us food and drinks while on set. They are very pivotal in keeping everyone happy.

And now it's the "weekend" and I have two days. It will definitely be nice to not have to spend my days standing in the cold, watching children and being awake for 18 hours. Maybe I'll start taking my camera to work and give you guys some behind the scenes photos...

Friday, February 13, 2009

Three Days in the Cold

For anyone who thinks working on movies is glamorous and fun, I'm here to give you a reality check. The days are long, and boring, and cold, and did I mention that they're long? I knew all this going into my current PA gig, but I sort of tried to block out the memory and concentrate only on the payday. But that first day on, it all came flooding back to me....

First, the film, Snowmen, is shooting up in Park City, which, for those not familiar with Utah, is about 30 miles away from Salt Lake, which is where I'm staying with my sister. It's basically a resort town for skiing, so to get there you have to drive through Parley's canyon. Thankfully the weather hasn't been bad...yet; it's supposed to snow all day tomorrow. Because of the cold weather I've had to buy new glove, boots, snow pants and jacket. And since it's higher in the mountains the snowfall is heavier and the temperatures lower. It's gotten progressively colder each day on set; today it was 13 degrees when I arrived.... 6:00 am. Which is the second worst thing about making movies--the call times are always early and the wrap times always late. Major plus for this movie, though, is that it stars kids. Kids can only work 5 hours a day on set, which makes for much shorter working days. Not a whole lot shorter, but instead of clocking in 14, 15 hours, the days are usually done by 5:30 or 6:00. But then there's that drive down the canyon...

Third, extras. These are the people you see in the background of shots. All the extras in this movie are kids. Young kids. Like six to ten. And there's like 30 of them. Most of them don't take it seriously (I think their parents are forcing them to do it, hoping they get famous some how) and don't listen to what I say. They have very small attention spans. Some of them are completely adorable, which makes it harder when I have to make them stand out in the cold for 4, 6 hours doing the same things over and over. It's kind of sad, and I know that I'd never let my hypothetical kids be extras.

Fourth, there's a lot of standing around when making movies. We like to call it Hurry Up and Wait.

So making movies is not glamorous, but they do feed you well. There's breakfast and lunch, plus Crafty on set with snacks and food. We've been getting hot soup at fairly even intervals. And that's what making movies is about.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Kindness of Strangers

I packed a lot of stuff into my suitcases and book bag. Since I was moving out of my room entirely, and nothing could be left, I put a lot of things that would normally not be taken with me into my luggage. Good thing, too, because my storage unit was filled to capacity--from floor to ceiling and wall to wall to door; not one extra box would have fit.

So I wasn't all that surprised when my luggage was deemed too heavy--six pounds over the limit. The worker asked if I had any spare room to put the extra six pounds in, and I just looked at her. I was extremely tired and so the look of incredulity on my face when she said I'd have to pay $50 for the extra pounds on top of the $15 checked baggage fee seemed justified. I thought about it for a minute before resignedly telling her to just charge the card. I must've looked and sounded pretty sad and pitiful, because the gentleman who was checking in at the kiosk next to mine offered to pay my checked baggage fee. I sort of missed the entire transaction in my depressed state, until I was told I was done and I wondered what card she had put the charge on. "I thought you understood that this gentleman was paying it for you," she said. I've never felt so grateful for anything before.

And then, on the not-full flight from Phoenix, a guy gave up his window seat for me and instead sat in an aisle seat. The flight was definitely not full, but somehow my row had been assigned three people. I had gotten there first, and when he showed up saying that was his seat and I was in it (because I was already expecting the flight to not be full) said he would sit in the aisle behind me if no one came. Someone came, and I offered him window seat back and I'd take the aisle seat, but he said he was fine. Can you believe it?! These people sure have some good karma coming their way. I'm also thinking I need a way to Pay the Kindness Forward...

Then, to top it off, Stefanie is letting me borrow her car while I'm here. I picked it up at her family's home in Springville and they were all so nice and friendly that they, along with Stefanie, are my new favorite people, Stefanie holding the title of Most Very Favor-ite Person in the Universe! Good Karma all around.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

...and the people that I've met and will miss: Maria, Mark, Rosemary, Stefanie, Jeff, Elisabeth, Elin, Holly, Brook, Erin, Cristi, Jessica, Soo, Marcus, Laura, Hanna, Cody, Hilary, Jina, Jenny, all those folks at the Crew, Ryan, Nesha, Aja, Gaby, Rolf, Kristy, Tamara.

A New York Love Letter

As I sit at the airport writing this, I reflect that I don't feel sad or melancholy about leaving the city this time. I don't really know why, it's a hard feeling to capture in words, especially for someone who struggles to make coherent ideas and sentences out of her thoughts. Maybe it's because the city I'm leaving this time is different than the one I left in December. It's changed, and perhaps I've changed with it. I think there's a definite demarcation line--the Julie when she first moved to New York and the Julie after being gone for six weeks. So in my bid to say goodbye to the city one more time, but hopefully not for the last time, here are some things I'll remember and miss about New York:

--the feeling when I first walked into my apartment
--seeing The Godfather at Film Forum with Mark and Maria
--subway performers
--hearing Elder Holland speak to the New York Stake
--reading in Central Park
--apple picking in upstate New York
--walking on sidewalks in new neighborhoods
--wading thru traffic on busy streets
--Gray's Papaya hot dogs
--jam-packed subway cars
--riding a cab at night and rediscovering the city all lit up
--taking a bus and spending the day in Washington, D.C.
--riding Amtrak out to Pennsylvania
--showing my sister and Mom the Top of the Rock
--Matchbox Twenty at Madison Square Garden
--walking in the rain with my rain boots
--feeling like I live in the center of the Universe
--taking the subway to Target
--buying a turkey and carrying it on the subway
--movies in Bryant Park
--the time I went to AsssCat with Stef and it was the funniest thing I'd ever seen
--seeing Jeff perform at the Apollo
--the Ward Christmas Party and Ryan Simmons performance
--Pumpkin Blaze in Tarrytown
--the Nadal Deli just down the street
--riding the subway at 3:00 in the morning
--realizing that New York is not what's portrayed in movies and tv, it's better--most of the time
--working with Tribeca Film Festival
--when the weather gets nice and you don't need a coat or gloves anymore and there's a feeling of excitment in the city
--walking aimlessly down Broadway
--fall in the city

That's seems to be a pretty good list for someone with a bad memory...

Monday, February 9, 2009

Moving Day Heroes

Today was moving day, something I was not looking at with excitement. I hate moving and everything that goes with it--sweating, sore back, dirty hands, sore shoulders, getting rid of unnecessary things, being humbled that everything you own in this world fits in a 5x5 room. That being said, I also sort of love the satisfaction when it's all done and stored away, and then even the dirt on your hands, the sweat under your arms and the pain in your back all seem to be worth it.

I picked up my U-Haul cargo van at 11:00am. I was a little nervous to drive the big van in the city, but it really wasn't that bad since I got to take the West Side Highway all the way up to nearly my street. Being that I no longer drive everyday, I've become a little wary about driving and my skills; perhaps they atrophy with time and need to be reworked to get strong again. But it was all okay, I did not forget how to signal, brake or turn. And the city streets?--if a double bus can do it, surely I can.

My two helpers for the move were Jeff "Large and in Charge" Hofmann and Stefanie "I Like Marshmallow Mateys" Grassley. These two really came through in the clutch for me, and they are hopefully well rewarded with good karma and blessings for helping me. I tend to think I can do everything and anything by myself and have a hard time relying on other people for help. As much as I would've liked to have been able to do it all by myself, it just wasn't possible. Hopefully I can learn to be more accepting of others' help. Because of this thinking I wasn't too proactive in recruiting people to help me move; Jeff offered to help the previous day, and I cornered Stef at church. Along with thinking I could do it by myself, I also severely underestimated how long it would take to get it all done. I seem to forget that moving in New York is not like moving anywhere else. Every box had to be touched at least four times, from the apartment to the elevator, from the elevator to the lobby, then when everything was out of the apartment and in the lobby, it was all moved to the truck (I was lucky to get a spot right in front). Once it was all in the truck, it then had to be unloaded onto carts, then unloaded from the carts into the storage space. It was quite the workout, and I will forever feel indebted to Jeff and Stef for giving of their time to help little ol' me move. Great friends and great people, and that is why they are my moving day Heroes!

Friday, February 6, 2009

Make Face Time

It was quite the coincidence that I rode the exact same subway car three times in two days. Two of the times was on the same day! I know you're wondering how I could possibly know that I was riding in the same car, as they all look the same. Well, first of all, the sign that said it was a 1 train was marked up and easily noticeable each time I got on as the same scratch marks. Second of all, not every subway car has the same ads. This one I took notice of because it had my favorite advertisements pasted all over the subway: The Dentyne-Make Face Time print ad. And I specifically noticed it because ever since I first saw the ads a couple months ago, before I left the city, they automatically stood out to me and I've been meaning to take pictures of them. I didn't take any pictures of them because I felt a little foolish doing so on the crowded subway, so I downloaded some pictures from their website. I love how they advocate personal, face-to-face interactions with the ones you love and care about. I know they're just trying to sell gum (and I don't use Dentyne but Orbit SweetMint) but I sort of really love the message. Seriously though, make some face time.

Cheap and Free

Since I'm trying to be better with the little bit of money that I have, I'm looking for things to do in the city that are either relatively cheap or just altogether free. It's really not that hard to do if you just look around and do a little leg work. Or check your e-mail, which is what I did for my first activity today, a movie at Film Forum.

Film Forum is where I saw The Godfather. So I pretty much love this place. Right now they're having a Breadlines and Champagne repertory to go along with the recession and hard times. Films from the 30's and 40's are playing, and today, opening day, tickets went for 35 cents--the price of a ticket in the 30's! Today's Opening film was I'm No Angel, starring the sexy Mae West and the never-more-charming Cary Grant. It's amazing how saucy and sexy she's allowed to be in this film! It was made before the Hays Production Code, the predecessor to our current-day MPAA ratings system that instead of rating films actually censored them and said what could and could not be in a motion picture, and so got away with a lot of things that even now seem very on the edge. As Tira, the circus performer who moves her way up, she has great dialogue and even great confidence to back it up with. The movie was preceded by ads, a newsreel and cartoon from the same time period. It was a great time travel to the past, and the only thing that brought me into the present was that I paid $4 for my bag of popcorn.

Then, after running into Marky Mark on the subway, I headed to the New York Historical Society on 77th and Central Park West. I walked by this place on my trip around Central Park and noticed that on Friday nights they have free admission. I had just enough time to check out their Grant and Lee: In War and Peace before they closed. It was a great exhibit, complete with swords, guns, uniforms and maps. I truly love history, and especially the Civil War, and will always lament the fact that I didn't study it in college. And when I stepped out of the museum, the moon was shining in the night sky over Central Park. Yep, I live in New York. Wow. I still have moments where I can't believe it (and can't believe I'm leaving again for such a long period of time...)

And, since I was close, and even though as previously mentioned I'm leaving in four days, I stopped by Fairway to buy a few food essentials, and finally found cheap milk! I bought a half gallon for $1.79! I don't know where this milk has been hiding all this time, and I can't believe I uncovered it on the eve of me leaving. I bought one. Not only because it was cheap, but because my dad had sent me some cereal, and it would be a shame to pass it up.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Hard Core for Conan

The late-night tv landscape is going to be changing pretty soon, so to make sure we didn't miss Late Night with Conan O'Brien's last remaining weeks in New York, Stefanie, Elin and I made the trek to Rockefeller Center to get standby tickets this morning. They're handed out at 9am, but you can't just role out of bed at 8:30 and get there and hope to get in. We didn't want to take any chances, and taking into account stories we had heard about only two stand-by ticket holders getting in and that Conan only has twelve shows left in New York, we arrived at 6am. We were first in line....for a whole hour! Taxis would drive by and look at us, businessmen walked by and asked what we were standing in line for today. It was brutally cold, and after three hours I couldn't feel my fingers and my toes were headed that way, too. But we were stand-by ticket holders numbers 1, 2 and 3!

So you get to leave after getting your ticket and don't have to return until 4:00. We all went home and took naps, showers. Then back to Rockefeller Center, where we still felt pretty cool being the first people in line. We get to go in after VIPs and people who have advance tickets; they let in 28 stand-by ticket holders. We still felt cool being first.

When you watch Conan on tv you'd never know how small his set actually is. The same is true for Jay Leno's set; both have an illusion of being large with their bands so far away when they're actually just across the room. Conan is hilarious, but seemed even more so as I got to watch him live, which is always the case when I see something live. The guests were great: the handsome and funny Jon Hamm, the cute and makes-me-miss-Ed Ginnifer Goodwin, and the uber-ly talented and musically diverse Theresa Andersson. A great way to spend a day in New York.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

A Walk Around Central Park

Yesterday was such a nice, warm day that I decided to do something I've always wanted to do: I walked the entire perimeter of Central Park. The park runs from 59th to 110th Street north to south and from Central Park West to 5th Ave (a total of three avenue lengths) west to east, for a grand total of 6 miles! And I did it in three hours; of course I stopped along the way to take pictures and eat a sandwich.

I started at the northwest corner entrance at 110th and Central Park West and walked along 11oth (Central Park North), just enjoying the beautiful day and scenery. The top of the park is a hidden gem, I think. I wasn't even aware of the "lake" up there and the Harlem Meer and the spot where a battle in the Revolutionary War was fought. I can only imagine how beautiful it looks in Spring, Summer and Fall when there's leaves on the trees. This is where Harlem officially starts--above the park.

Then I got tot the corner of Central Park North (110th St) and 5th Avenue, which I guess could be called Central Park East, but it's not. It is sometimes called Museum Mile, though, because there are museums all along 5th avenue, ranging from the Guggenheim and Metropolitan Museum of Art, to smaller museums housing specific works. It's a pretty street, and has a very distinct feel about it. This is the Upper East Side, with Madison and Park Avenues just one and two streets over. It's very posh and rich feeling, much different than the vibe on Central Park North. See that building behind the 5th Ave sign? I have a friend who lives there. They have a great view.

And then it was to Central Park South, which is where Midtown begins, or ends, I guess, depending on how you look at it. Central Park South is mainly hotels on one side and horse carriages on the other. The Plaza Hotel sits at the corner of CPS and 5th Ave, and is stunning in its beauty and grandeur. The Plaza has been a location for movies ranging from Crocodile Dundee to Home Alone 2 and tv shows like Sex and the City. By now the sun was starting to set and the temperature was going down with it. I had to put on my gloves before reaching the next corner!

The last leg of my journey was finally reached--the intersection of Central Park South and Central Park West. This is Columbus Circle, and it's also the intersection of Columbus Ave and 8th Avenue, creating a large roundabout. All I have left now is the walk up Central Park West from 59th to 110 Street. I was feeling pretty tired at this point, and getting colder by the minute. I really wanted to just stop and sit on a bench, but knew that if I sat down it would take a lot to get me back up. So I kept right on, taking less pictures because of the cold. I did stop, however, to take a picture of some squirrels running
around in the trees and leaves.

When I finally made it back to 110th and Central Park West, the sunny and warm day had was now dark and cold. I hopped right on the M4 bus and tried to get warm as I rode it home.

Monday, February 2, 2009

End of an Era

In case you all didn't get enough of me when I was in Salt Lake, I'm week. I know what you're thinking--You just left! Or in my case--I just got back. But upon returning, sitting in my inbox was a message from an old acquaintance who I had ran into while working Sundance who asked if I wanted a job on a film shooting in Park City. After fretting about it all weekend, I decided to take the job. I don't know why I was even fretting--it's not like I can make the kind of money I'll make on this film working at J. Crew. The only thing J. Crew has going for it is that it's in New York. But I can now officially say that I no longer work there.

I should also mention that there have been lots of changes here in New York since leaving, and it's partly because of those changes that I'm able to leave the city again. Rosemary moved out on Saturday, to a place that's cheaper and has better sun for her plants. Maria and Mark got married in December before I left for Sundance (it was totally special and I got to be their witness and the only person who knew about it! I love them!). And that of course changes things, as they are on a different course now. I was going to live with them, but now with me leaving for almost two months, and rents going down, they will just get a place for the two of them. And all of this makes it the perfect time for me to leave. My stuff will go into storage for the time that I'm gone and then I'll have to decide what to do when I'm done filming. But this apartment is done. It really does feel like the end of an era.

Also, while I'm Salt Lake I will need a car to get up to Park City for the shoot. If anyone has an extra car at their place, or a family member has one, that's not being used and just taking up space, I would be extremely grateful if I could borrow it for the time that I'm in Salt Lake. Let me know!

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