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Acting is Dangerous to Your Health

June 21, 2009

hugMy first appearance after my eight-month long hospital stay was at my local church. Several church leaders were concerned for me that day. They were afraid that I was going get rushed upon by several parishioners wanting to say hello.

I had bodyguards assigned to protect me from any unruly church members who may want to hug me a little too long. Leaders were afraid of my frail state and that my immunities were still weak. It was suggested to me to reach my arm out to try to prevent them from hugging. That did not work. I would put my hand out to shake it with someone and then endure that awkward moment where they would still hug me with my hand out. The outstretched hand would then have to give a friendly pat on the back or that person would never let me go. I was accosted by several good-intentioned people who would suffocate me in their armpits and then beat upon my back. Even those who would shake my hands, would still hug me at the same time.

shakehugMy bodyguards just watched beside me. It’s a good thing they were there; otherwise I might have been attacked by another smiling lady shouting, “Hallelujah! You are a miracle, do you know that?” “Yes, I do.” “NO! You are a miracle!” “Yes, I am.” “NO! Do you really, really know that?” “Yes, I do.” This interchange would go on until another lady would grab me.

One of those smiling people was an actor that I had worked with before. He was directing a new movie and wanted me to do a cameo in it. It would be my first film since I got out of the hospital. Even though I still needed a cane to walk, I was determined to do the scene without it.

A month later came and my scene was ready to shoot. This was an independent production and you could tell by the fact that the director’s wife arrived to pick me up. I must say that I have never had the director or the director’s wife pick me up for a movie shoot before.  I felt special. I rode along with the small children of the director to the airport, where our scene was to be shot.

airportroom I walked into the area in the busy airport where the actors were to meet. When you work on major films, you can easily recognize the main actors; however on an independent film, you do not know who anybody is. The other actors see this frail guy walking up to them with a cane and they are wondering if I am going to ask for a handout. Instead, I tried to break the ice with some levity. “Where’s my trailer?” I shouted out forcefully. Apparently, I did not put enough sarcasm into my voice as they took me seriously. I am an actor after all, so I made it seem real. They did not know my sense of humor, so immediately I made everyone feel uncomfortable.

scriptpagesWe sat in the airport chairs for our makeup. I watched her put everyone’s makeup on, except for mine. I never did get any makeup. I had done films before without any makeup, so I figured they wanted me “AS IS.” They did not want to cover up the natural beauty, I tried to convince myself. I went over my three lines with the two page portion of the script that they allowed me to have. I was to portray a Guardian Angel, but I had no idea what the film was about. I did know my three lines. There are no small parts, just small actors… however; EVERY actor still knows how many lines they have. It is part of our breeding.

In my scene, I was to run across the airport. I still needed a cane to get by, but I had practiced all day without it. The director told me to just do it with the cane. That is how I became a Guardian Angel with a cane. Don’t all Angels have them?

All of the airport authorities knew we were there and they also knew that we had two actors who were portraying police officers during a fight scene. Even though their costumes did not fit properly, they were still asked questions by airport travelers. They had to shoot the film around real people, as they were not allowed to shut the entire airport down.

This scene has the main actor acting peculiarly and then is confronted by an actor portraying a police officer, who draws his gun. Another officer comes into the scene as backup, with his gun drawn. They shout for the main actor to get down on the ground. During the first take, a REAL police officer pulled HIS gun and told EVERYONE to get down on the ground. He apparently was not at the meeting and did not comprehend all the cameras, lights, boom mikes, etc. He was VERY close to shooting the actors! All cameras were rolling and I hope that footage will make the DVD release.

I spent eight months in a hospital… released a few weeks… and then almost killed while acting! During all of the remaining takes, the director would shout out in a sing-song fashion, “Standby for the ACTORS who are ACTING in this scene…. ACTING! PRETEND! Don’t shoot us!”

I asked for hazard pay. I can’t fall to the ground! I would never get back up! I may have been mistaken for someone who is threatening the officer by still standing… and I had a big, black stick in my hands! “Hey officer! Let me limp over to you very slowly and timidly hit you with my cane!” “Freeze, sucka!”

I had two scenes that day, but I later found out that the actors that I did the first scene in were all wearing the wrong clothes from a different scene.  That is one scene that will not make the film, as they only had the Airport permit for that day. We will see if the mystery of the cane-walking Angel makes the final cut of the film or not. Either way, it was fun to get back on the horse again after lying in a bed for most of the year. Independent Films are usually more interesting and fun to work on than the mainstream ones… I tried to convince myself.

It’s true, though… if you do not get shot in the process!



(C) 2009 by Tracy Young

One Comment leave one →
  1. July 1, 2009 5:55 am

    Hi! I was surfing and found your blog post… nice! I love your blog. 🙂 Cheers! Sandra. R.

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