This month I’m sharing a very recent Hollywood story. It will give you a little idea of the things we’ll do to make sure the show goes on. And trust me… the show MUST go on. It takes a whole lot to stop production. Schedules can (and will) be juggled, writing might be adjusted, but there is just too much involved to actually stop production unless something very major happens.
I’ll preface this story with telling you that we have a new cast member on my show this year. (Which, BTW, had it’s season 3 premiere this past weekend. Below is the trailer.) This cast member has the distinction of being the youngest actor I’ve worked with (not including babies who don’t talk). This little girl had just turned four when we began filming in April. I’ve worked with plenty of seven-year-olds, but four?! I wasn’t sure how that was going to fly!
Well, I’m here to tell you that some kids are absolutely naturals. I mean this little girl can deliver a line like nobodies business. And she’s adorable on top of it. So, that’s your set up. Here’s the story:
Working in children’s programming usually means we deal with outrageous episodes. Think slime. Think big costumes and over the top scripts. Especially since our cast is playing a family of Superheroes. A few weeks ago, it came time to shoot a particular scene with the kids dressed in outrageous mix-matched outfits. Imagine footie pajamas/tutus/cowboy boots/boa/big sunglasses… All on one little four-year-old.
We got to the scene, but it was the first time the actors were actually in their crazy wardrobe. And sometimes, wardrobe isn’t that comfortable. Clothes might pinch, shoes might be too tight or give you blisters… any number of things can happen that might make an actor uncomfortable.
Try explaining to a four-year-old that she has to do the scene no matter how much something bothers her. I’m here to tell you… it ain’t easy.
I’ve never begged and pleaded more in my life. Haha. We managed to get the scene done and all was well, but not until after I’d promised this sweet little girl an awesome surprise for the next day. (Yes, I resorted to bribery. A first for me.) So…there I am, that night, wracking my brain for what to bring to work that might be considered something “awesome.” I perused my swag shelf. (Everyone has a swag shelf, right? That place where all the crap you get at various conferences or vacations go when you get home.) Lo and behold, I found a wand. Not just any wand… but a sparkly wand! Hm… what little girl wouldn’t love a sparkly wand? BUT, I thought, I have to do better than that. Only how?
I’m a writer, right? I should be able to figure this out. And I did.
I wrapped the wand and went to work the next day. Before I presented Maya with her gift I prepped all the actors and producers with my plan. With several cast members standing by, I gave Maya her present. She opened it up and seemed to like her wand. But when I told her that it wasn’t just any wand… I got her full attention.
“THIS is a magic wand!” I said. “Every actor gets one at a certain point in their career. And you are the youngest person I’ve ever worked with to get her wand so soon. Do you know why you got it?” I asked.
She shook her head, no, her eyes wide as she listened.
“Because yesterday, when you were upset and uncomfortable, you found the strength to work through it and shoot your scene anyway. Now, you have the power to do it whenever you’re uncomfortable or upset.”
“How does it work?” she asked.
<holy crap>”Well,” I began, totally adlibbing my brains out. I took the wand from her hand and held it in front of her. “Whenever you’re upset, but you have to work in a scene, you close your eyes, wave the wand and count, one, two, three!” I tapped the wand over her head. “And that gives you the power to pull up the strength to shoot the scene.”
She bought it. Thank God. We ended up using the wand that day for real, but so far that was the only time we’ve needed it. I think she almost didn’t want me to use it, but I did and she got this look in her eyes, like… “well, I HAVE to do this now.” LOL. It was kind of very adorable.
Anyway… I’m here to tell you that this kid is going to work for the rest of her life if she wants to. Keep your eyes out for Maya Le Clark. She’s the bomb. (Of course, when she grows up and finds out what I did, we’ll see if she hunts me down and if I’m alive to share THAT story!)
So that’s just one of the things I’ve done to make sure the “show goes on.”
What about you? Any last minute tap dancing to keep something moving along? Tell me about it!