Saturday, February 20, 2016

Hey, Legs!

I'm no actor, so it's best if I put decades in between my acting jobs.

Back in college, a filmmaker friend roped me into playing the lead in his film "Druid" and I was predictably awful, hardly a surprise given I'd never acted before, unless fake tears to get sympathy from your mother count.

Yet despite my poor emoting, he put me in his second film, although eventually I figured out that he also wanted to date me so perhaps that was partly responsible for his casting decisions.

In any case, fast forward to this week and I get a message from a friend asking me to be in a crowd-sourcing video. I agree because I believe in the cause, but I also warn him that while I have many talents, acting in front of the camera isn't one of them.

As he put it, "We will be coaxing a fine method acting job outta you! Oh, and we have a prop for you."

When I ask if I can hold said prop in front of my face, he responds, "Not a chance!" but when I ask if they can just shoot my legs, he agrees. "That could be arranged! You have admiring fans behind the camera after all."

So I show up on Broad Street, appropriately clad, at my appointed time, ready to embarrass myself for the sake of the cause, only to learn that more than my legs will make the final cut.

And the coaching begins. The angles are worked out, cues are explained to me and we have the scene mapped out. Sorta, anyway.

Taking a cue from the opening of "Saturday Night Fever," I start walking down Broad Street, with the camera beginning on my feet and panning up my legs, only to be reminded by the director that I should be strolling rather than my usual fast walking.

This is not my usual M.O. I stroll poorly, just ask my slow-walking friends.

We do this five or six times until everyone's happy with it, then move on to the actual interactive part of the scene, where I see James, nattily dressed in a brown plaid vest and pants, fedora on his head, and stop and have a conversation with him.

He teases me into the scene. "Okay, what's your character, who are you, what's your methodology?"

Um, I'm a Jackson Ward resident who loves seeing movies old and new in public places, especially my neighborhood? Bingo.

We work out the dialog and shooting resumes. This is where I'm reminded of those other acting roles decades ago and that's the endless repetition of shooting scenes, first from this angle, then from that, with the camera in his face and then in mine, from behind, as I spot James, as I sit down.

Part of the action involved me handing him a $50 bill with Groucho Marx on it and this is where my method acting resume comes in, or at least, the method to my madness.

As we're sitting at an orange table in front of Candela Gallery, I slide the bill just under the hem of my skirt, so when I have to reach for it, we're back to my legs. The crew loves it.

I consider this little piece of brilliance a far greater contribution to the filming than anything I actually say on camera. Of course, it, too, is filmed repeatedly.

"That's the money shot!" the director yells with gusto.

And that's a wrap. Let's just say I'd have made a terrific silent movie actress and leave it at that.

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