No, it’s not a joke. Although being able to tell a joke is useful in a restaurant as well as to actors. Nothing like a joke when you’re just about to swallow, as the producer said to the starlet…
Okay, and I promise that the tone of this blog is going to rise above that joke. It can only rise, can’t it?
Tonight, while sitting around on set waiting for the five people apart from the producer who actually had something to do to come out of the room they’d locked themselves in so the rest of us could have our 9pm lunch, I realized that acting – or working on a student film set at least – requires almost all the same skills and involves all the same perks as waitressing – except getting paid, naturally.
Waiting around for hours
Even when you are not actually needed. You are not waiting for anything. You are just waiting. Please try to look important, so that you can match the way other people who do have something to do are currently feeling.
Being nice to people.
Nobody wants bitches on set. There will always be at least one bitch on set, but that’s the AD’s job, so you can’t hold it against them.
Wearing a lot of make up.
If you’re an actor, it’s your job. If you’re crew, it’s either because you got bored and let the makeup guy experiment on you, fell asleep and let the the makeup guy experiment on you, or are vain.
Stroking the egos of those wealthy emperors with no clothes.
This may be the irate next door neighbor of the house you’re borrowing, or the DP, or the crew member who is sulking because they don’t have anything to do. A little comment such as “great work” is the on-set equivalent of “great choice” in a restaurant. It’s a lie, but it’s going to pay off in the long term.
Carrying stuff around without dropping it.
Noise and breakages cost money in both a restaurant and on set. I lack skills in the nimbletude department, so I try to avoid jobs that involve being nimble and instead I spend my time tidying away cords and clearing debris. Not to be a martyr, but so that I don’t trip over them myself, ruin a shot and become the fuckwit everyone gossips about for two years.
Meeting a lot of people.
What I’ve enjoyed most the last few days has probably been people watching. People watching at their most stressed. Also the random bursts of ideas generated on-set. Tonight, talking to a cinematographer, I realised how to solve a script problem I’ve been butting my head against for days. I chatted to an 18-year-old actress who I know will be a huge star one day. Yes, the one in the pictures.
Eating staff meals and drinking free soda.
Don’t knock it. Actually food on set is generally a lot better than staff meals in restaurants are. I particularly loved the crafty stuff Ayelet the producer put out – I’m a fan of Foots. It’s a few feet of dried fruit that’s been pulverized, died bright red and then rolled up like thin tick tack. Sounds yucky. Feels like you’re a chameleon sucking in its own tongue as you devour it. Awesome.
Weird working hours.
I thought journalism was bad, but I’d forgotten what it was like to have a waitressing job… grafting til 2am then coming down til 4, then hitting college for the 7.45am class, then crashing for two hours, maybe studying some, before the cycle hit BEGIN again. Well I’m back there, just without the cash. In fact, WAIT. I’m paying to do this.
Having your own trailer.
Interestingly, if you’re a good actor, you get a trailer. IF you’re a lousy waiter, you get a trailer. MAYBE a spot on the Jerry Springer show or equivalent. See what I mean about the money?
Okay, not too sure that actors get laid, as I’ve never been an actor, but I know that restaurants are pretty hot. Not the one I worked in. The ones where they’d heard of cleaning products and food.
Here are some pics from the production of Wilt, written by Lucien Knotter. There have been a few moments of touch and go, but I’ve managed not to snap anyone’s head off in return. On the whole, everyone’s friendly, professional, and doing everything they can to get the job done – and then some.
Another similarity is of course that without a sense of humour, you absolutely will not survive either job. So the more practiced the professional, the more they tend to be able to see the lighter side, at the worst of times. Like action heroes in the thick of battle, tossing clips and quips around as if their lives depended on it. On set, it really may depend on it.
Five minutes after he told this joke it repeated on my overtired brain, and set off an hysterical laughing fit. I crawled into the kitchen to look for something on the crafty table with which to stabilise myself and ran into the producer’s assistant. He was having a laughing fit too, but for some other reason that I still don’t know.
THE END – cause I need to sleep now.