Diaries of a Hollywood Gypsy.. #SetLife

We are 3 weeks away… the official countdown is on to finishing my latest second team gig —Alias Grace— and I must say I think you (the audience) will be pleased with this latest Netflix / CBC miniseries when it airs in 2017. This true story is based on a Margaret Atwood novel and was written for the screen by the multi-talented Sarah Polley. The show stars Sarah Gadon, Anna Paquin, Paul Gross, and Zachery Levi.

For those who don’t know what second team means… It refers to an actor’s “stand in” for setting up lighting for scenes so they don’t have to wait around for the camera team… The hours have been long and the location shooting has been a bit of grind, but when you really love what you do, it doesn’t matter. So far the production has taken us all over Ontario, Canada, recreating the 1800’s of Ireland and Upper Canada, using beautiful turn of the century farm houses and heritage protected landmarks to bring this true story to life. Sometimes I feel like I stepped out of Doc Brown’s DeLorean into the past. The costumes, the script language, the distinct class system the characters represent, the hardships of the 1800s that are recreated, make for a unique world to live and work in for 65 days.

When you choose #setlife as your occupation you tend to work on various productions throughout the year, work in random locales you probably would never experience in your daily routine, and work with eccentric and passionate people from all walks of life…

In the last two weeks alone I’ve been to 4 different small towns in Ontario that I didn’t know existed, met some incredible actors, crew members, and have been surrounded by so much 1840s Victorian opulence, I’m beginning to feel a little regal by association. The attention to detail has been incredible and you truly feel like you’re living in another era being on these sets for 14 hours a day. You’re only reminded of reality when everyone pulls out there IPHONE’s and checks to see if the Blue Jays are going to make the playoff finals(which sadly they didn’t); It’s been a funny contrast to see indeed. Along with being transported back to another time and place, the crew I’ve been meeting have taken this experience to a new level. The conversations have been funny, deep, and meaningful. The stories, talents, dreams, and aspirations of this group has made me gain a new appreciation of the creative process. Each week I feel like we get a little closer as a group, and this family bond continues to grow.

As all normal unionized work usually goes, the day has a beginning and end, and that’s where the true Gypsy nature of the film industry begins to show its face. When you arrive on a big budget union production you will tend to have a dozen trucks with equipment, wardrobe, catering, make up, actor trailers, and bathrooms lined up, taking over an entire street. You will also have half a dozen transport vehicles travelling around for crew, actors, and running errands to the office in the city, ready to go at a moment’s notice, as well as 50 crew member cars parked and used for power naps at lunch. The environment always is full of life and it’s essentially a mobile city. It’s quite the site to see when the first AD (assistant director) calls wrap at the end of a long day. You truly feel this gypsy vibe when you watch this incredible site of trucks and production atmosphere clean itself up quickly and just disappear.

Living out of a suitcase can have its drawbacks but It can be inspiring too. My film making side has had a chance to reflect, regroup, and continue to be educated in my second team position on this show. I’m truly earning my Gypsy stripes and with several new towns, cities, and new people to meet, the journey to reach my ultimate goal of creating and directing big budget productions like this one continues to grow closer. That’s it for now… second team is being called back to set. Until next time…