Acting One’s Age

 

First acting gig of the year last weekend. Unpaid of course. We amateurs, actually I prefer the term “Gentleman Thespians”, shun the corrupting influence of monetary incentives and practice the Art for The Art’s sake. In fact the assembled cast for the scene I appeared in bore a striking resemblance to The Gentlemen of Nottinghamshire captained by the redoubtable Dr. W.G. Grace circa 1899.

This follows two short film appearances last year. One as the barman who looks like Ridley Scott and the other a neighbour with what seems to be a South African accent and a passing resemblance to Ridley Scott.
This demonstrates the value of having two daughters, both of whom are actors. There is always the need to balance the demographics. As even Home and Away acknowledges, the world is not entirely aged between 16 and 35. So when you need an old guy (with some tools) Dad’ll do it.
Did I mention it was a music video? The very thought of music video brings a wry smile to the lips and a simultaneous shudder down the spine. All those broken promises, “Next time we’ll have a proper budget”, “Don’t charge us for this one and we’ll pay double for the next one.” That was 1998 and I’m still waiting.

Anyhoo ‘tis interesting to be on the other side of the camera again. Freed from the pressures and tribulations of directing I soon recalled how boring it all is.
Can’t fault the crew though, shooting on what appeared to be a Red Epic with a budget that extended to a single Chinese Lantern, a Hazer and some rolls of Gladwrap, they were unfailingly polite. Scarily so at times. What ever happened to the arrogance of the young videographer? I was asked if I was allergic to seafood (the scene was an elegant “Gentlemen’s Club” dining room) assured that lunch would be served promptly at 2pm (it was) and then quietly taken aside and asked if I was willing to participate in a stunt.
“Stunt! Now you’re talking. Will there be blood? I bleed easily these days. I’ll show you my commando roll if you like. Who do I hit? Do you know people actually don’t fall backwards when they get shot.”
Sadly, the stunt consisted of me being grabbed from behind and dragged off my chair, presumably to the kitchen where I would be blended into the gazpacho. It also took a little convincing that my performance would be much better if someone really grabbed me (“wruffly” to quote Pontius Pilate) and hauled me away, rather than just pretending. I was just getting warmed up and thinking to incorporate a spinning glass of red wine into the act when the Director (one of two) yelled . “Cut! That’s great!”
“Really, I was just practising?”
“No. It’s perfect.”
“ I can do a thing with the wine glass.”
“Hell no, the wine glass belongs to the guitarists mother. In fact everything belongs to the guitarists mother.”
I must point out the location was a rather magnificent Victorian “Pile” in Petersham – ground floor chock a block with the complete 19th century.
In my day guitarists lived in garages.
“Great you’re wrapped!” They said.
“Are you sure?” said I, trying to avoid the jealous gaze of my fellow cast members who had another four hours of performance in front of them.
“Yep, you said you had to go 4pm so we organised the shoot around that.”
I’m not exactly sure what a “conniption” sounds like but I suspect it was the noise emanating from my fellow “Gentlemen Thespians” as I bade my goodbyes and stepped into the warm Autumn afternoon sunshine.
I have learned a thing or two over the years after all.

Mark Leonard is probably Seeing Things

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