We’re the Millers is over
I found myself strangely nostalgic as I cleared my desk and packed everything from my desk organizer to my mini jade traveling Buddha into the stereotypical cardboard box of the employee who’s been let go. Thankfully, I hadn’t been fired. On the contrary, my boss was disappointed to hear I’d be leaving a little early. But when I told her that I’d be leaving for a Costume Designer position on a local feature film, A SHORT HISTORY OF DECAY, she was very excited for me. The timing worked out very well, as I only had to leave one week before WE’RE THE MILLERS changed location to New Mexico.
I could not be more thankful for the incredible experience I had on WE’RE THE MILLERS. Even though I was hired originally as a Costume Assistant, I had the opportunity to work one to two days a week as an additional Set Costumer. Which, besides giving me valuable experience, was a pretty big pay increase.
As a Set Costumer, I (with my fellow set costumers) checked and dressed background actors (extras), prepped stock clothing, handled extras’ vouchers and kept an eye on the background’s overall color palette. We had a big carnival scene, so there were days when we had as many as 300 background all sitting around in a huge tent with air-conditioning blasting in through giant tubes. Most of our carnival scenes were at night, so we had 6pm-6am shifts, and the background tent felt like a hurricane shelter – children running amok, people in various stages of dress sleeping in chairs or on the floor, a woman rocking her 2-year old in her lap.
Vans shuttled us to and from set, and there were snacks and coffee (“crafty”) available. Also, we had a truck. A really big one. And it had a washer and dryer in it, a fridge, office, and tons of racks of clothes! I may or may not have used the cross bars for gymnastics.
The strangest, most difficult part about film (in my humble opinion) is knowing that most of the people you’ve worked with and become close to over the past couple weeks or months will head back to their respective homes and you’ll never see them again.
Now, I know that sounds dramatic, but think of it this way: working on a film is a little bit like going to summer camp. You meet a bunch of new people, work with them day in and day out, hang out with them on the weekends (because your last batch of friends left town after the last film ended), deal with drama, laugh about past events, develop these close friendships, and then you’re suddenly removed from their presence. Just like that.
Maybe you keep in touch with these people – via Facebook, Twitter, or other social media, but phone calls are rare occurrences, visits practically unheard of, and after a while they just drift away. After a couple of gigs like this, you stop investing in these relationships. You begin to accept the transience of your friendships and the fact that you may never again have close friends that are also close in proximity. This is part of my struggle with film work: the nature of the work prevents forming close relationships.
Where do I go from here?
That issue aside, I have been finding some success in the industry, and I am excited to see where it might lead me. I’m hoping to do this for a little while still – as long as I can hold out on my social life and other side projects, I suppose (you may have noticed a bit of a hiatus in my blogging. It’s rather difficult to spend hours writing nonsense when you work 70 hours/week).
In any case, I have managed to say no to a couple of projects this month in order to take a little vacation (it helped that I booked my flight months ago). We’ll see if I can keep up that trend. I’ll try to get up a couple posts about SHORT HISTORY OF DECAY and WITCHES OF EAST END soon, so stay tuned. I’ll also try to get up my pumpkin pie recipe this week! Yay, delicious treats!