And That’s A Wrap!

Welcome back, readers! My first experience as a Production Assistant has officially come to an end (sad face). But, let’s be honest, it’s not really over before I recap it, amiright? Before we get to the very eventful final weekend shoot, let’s talk about the second weekend. After a successful first weekend of shooting the short film, it was time for the Regrets of a Dying Man crew to get back to work! The first weekend was pretty tiring, so it was nice to only have one night shoot slated for the second weekend. Even better, we only needed the two lead character, making the set up a lot easier with less people. One big lesson I learned from the second weekend: don’t change the call time at the last minute. The original call time to meet was 8:00pm, but the whole crew got a text from Gricelda that the call time had been pushed to 9:00pm since the director needed it to be dark outside for the scene. I made it on time since I was already out with friends in the area, but a lot of the crew was late since there was a huge accident on the freeway. In my experience, the call time usually serves as an hour long buffer for the crew to set up and the actors to do makeup and wardrobe, not the actual time we are starting rehearsal or filming. The moral of the story: trust your gut and DON’T CHANGE THE CALL TIME!

Now, the week off before the last weekend shoot was very, very exciting for me! Our producer, Gricelda, texts the whole crew asking us to help get as many extras as possible for the final weekend shoot. She then texts me asking if I can get some of my friends to be extras for a college scene, knowing that I’ve just graduated from high school. Being  a recent St. Francis graduate, I knew for a fact that I could, at the very least, get a few Troubies to be extras. Not to mention the extra bonus I had with knowing plenty of actors from working in theater for 4 years. Immediately after she texts me I am asking if people are available to do it (catch my Facebook post ;)).  I start by asking some of my actor friends, knowing they would probably be interested. Fortunately, my friend Ani, who I have done numerous productions with, was available! This was  just as big of an opportunity for her as it was for me as she is pursing an acting career in film. Then, I ask my friend Nicole. I made her do all of my film projects in school, so why wouldn’t she do this, right? (Sorry, Nicole). Two friends who I had previously worked with, Julia and Sarah, were also able to be extras and thrilled to do it! By then, it looked like we had enough extras but still had plenty of room for more. BUT WAIT! Completely unexpected, I get a text from my friend, Abby, that she read my previous post and that she and another classmate, Antonia, would love to be in it! Even  more exciting, my dear friend Kate said she could make it, too (go G6)! It was all working out to be an on-set Troubie Takeover and I could hardly wait.

The first day was LOOOOONG. We started the day shooting in a gorgeous rose garden at 8:45. I knew that some of my friends would be extras on Saturday, but I was pleasantly surprised to see Julia, Ani, and Sarah were able to come on Friday as well! Since it was a private garden and had the time slot payment donated to us, it was really, really important that we used the 3 hours we had reserved efficiently. We were doing pretty good on time, but, let me tell you, it was NOT fun shooting right in the hot, Sacramento summer sun. It was SO. FREAKING. HOT! I’m pretty sure that all of the water I drank just sweated right off me. Nevertheless, we were getting the shots we needed so that’s what matters, right? As soon as we are going on a steady pass to finish a little bit before the 3 hour mark, the worst possible thing happened. The sprinklers turned on (insert Sydney’s annoyed face). And every time one set of sprinklers would finally stop, another set would turn on! You’ve got to be kidding me! Despite that little hiccup, it was still a fun shoot at the first location of the day. Sarah and Julia played BFFs walking the park. Ani was a girl on a date with a guy she met online, possibly through Tinder. Sounds like a great day, amiright!

Next, it was time to go to another park to film after the lunch break. While it was still way too hot for my liking and way too many prickly plants around, Ani came to the second location to be an extra again! Yay for friends! But before we start shooting the next scene, we set up for the night scenes. We had to build a homeless camp for the night shoot, so we wanted to make it while it was still light outside. And, I must say, Gricelda did a damn good job in setting up the camp for someone who doesn’t camp. Once we finish building the set, we refocus to the scenes we needed to shoot before the homeless camp scene. With a lot of extras, like Ani the runner who hasn’t actually ran in years, the scene looked a lot more like a realistic day in the park. We finish with at least 3 hours before we can start shooting the night scenes. So, what do you do when you have time on your hands? Shoot some more! While we waited for it to get dark outside, we shot some smaller scenes with the lead actor. I was definitely getting tired by this point, but was luckily refueled with a pizza dinner break. (Thanks, G!) As it’s beginning to get dark around 9:00pm, we realize that it would be a good time to take a bathroom break. So, four of us, including Gricelda and the lead actor, run to the grocrery store down the street to pee.  The trip was a little longer than expected and the director was not pleased, to say the least. But, hey! When you gotta go, you gotta go!

I’ll admit, by the time we finish packing up after finishing the homeless camp scenes at 1:00am, I was beat! I knew we still had one more scene to shoot, but I didn’t know how much longer I could stay up. But thank the heavens! About 45 minutes later, Gricelda says I can go home! I go home, make a grilled cheese sandwich, and take a shower all without somehow not waking up my mom. Impressive, I know. It’s 3:00am and time to go to bed. . . and wake up again at 6:30am for the 8:30 call time. I was EXHAUSTED, but it was the day all 7 of my extras were coming so I was pumped! I get to the community center we were shooting the college scenes about 15 minutes early and pleasantly not surprised that my friend Nicole is already there (that’s my girl!) Then, Julia comes! Then, Abby, Kate and Antonia come (with Abby’s mom to sign the release)! Then, Ani and Sarah! After a long shoot the day before, seeing my friends on set was the  biggest energy boost I could ask for. Not to mention how amazing it felt to have them cheering me on like I was the star on set! (Although we all knew Antonia was the real star 😉 Sorry, Kate) We start late but we are able to create an authentic school environment with the many extras we were fortunate to have. And, of course, I was the proud mom who was annoyingly taking pictures of my friends on set. What can I say, my last day on set was pretty sweet :).

As we wrapped production on Regrets of A Dying Man, I am overwhelmed with gratitude to our producer, Gricelda. This was her first big opportunity to do what she had dreamed of and it showed in every moment of production how much she really loved what she was doing. She not only turned her dreams into reality, but she also gave someone like me with little expereince the opportunity to learn. Through working with the amazing G, I realize that I want to work with people who are looking to foster new skills for themselves and for others around them. I realize that, while it won’t happen all the time, I want to work with and for people who are looking to give people the chance the learn as much as possible about their craft with sincerity. And I think the whole crew can say that that is the kind of person Gricelda was on set.  My one regret I have after production wrapped? Not getting one of my friend, Abby’s, witty one liners in. Other than that, I wouldn’t trade my first experience as a PA for anything else.

Through my eyes,

Sydney ❤


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