The Eloquent Garden

The garden you create or dream of creating is a mirror of yourself

My Brilliant Career as Unit Manager and what I found out about Actors and filmmaking

Many people who’ve had Brilliant Careers have to work very hard at them.

But sometimes they just fall into your lap. Or you fall into theirs.

And that’s how I discovered my Talent.

My Daughter, aspiring Director, was making a short film ‘The Storymaker.’ I said “Ok I’ll donate the money for on-set  food.’

Possibly right then, memories of culinary delights as she was growing up, a nostalgia for times past, overtook her.

oldpics007(1)More likely she was always on the lookout for a free, reliable worker. ‘How about you come down and do the catering?’

I discovered I had a Title. Unit Manager. That’d look very good on my CV.

I discovered that every day at 6AM the Crew would arrive, feeling very hungry. That they would be busy all day so would need many many cups of tea, coffee, snacks delivered on set for between takes.

And I discovered the Actors wait around, a lot. They’re therefore able to consume great quantities of lollies, chocolate. Amazing since they were all svelte.

SM_ScribesAtDoorA clue to why this is so, after the shoot. The DOP (Director of Photography) said ‘I won’t need to eat for a month after this.’

Ah. So now I know actors are special humans, with camel-like abilities. Fascinating.

I discovered that every afternoon a Call Sheet would be delivered to me. It’s an impressive document. It lists precisely the scenes, time of each scene, which cast or crew is involved. For me that meant how many would need to be kept fortified with tea, coffee, snacks, meals, drinks.

Next day, I discovered that the Call Sheet should have come with the disclaimer…”any resemblance to these stated intentions, will be accidental and hugely co-incidental.”

I discovered that if a scene is going well, there could be a sudden visit from the 1st AD (first Assistant Director) telling me that instead of lunch in an 15 minutes, it’d be in an hour. Then in ten minutes again would come the 1st AD with change of plan. ‘We need lunch, for actors in 20 min. For Crew, in a 50 minutes.’

I discovered my Talent for inventing recipes. If there’s an Olympic Category for innovative, speedy Recipe switching, I’m in with a chance. It was a lot like Demand Feeding, of which I was a proponent in the 80’s. But more menu variations and people involved.

I discovered that Haribo (Bears are excellent but any Haribo good) and Chocolate are essential. That without them the film won’t get made.

Actors have many fascinating tales to tell. They are obsessed with Film, stage, dancing, Haribo bears, and know hardship that they deal with in innovative ways.StorymakerStill1b(1)

Then, 4 years on, Emma’s lives in London. Again my Talents are called upon. She’s shooting ‘Scuffle’. Will I cater again? Love to.

This time I met a group of Dancers as well as actors.  Because the film was shot in  London, I had to order Good Weather as well as good food. Luckily for my reputation, I was able to deliver on both.

One recipe I served the Cast and Crew was Tuscan Vegetarian Terrine from Dr Heidi’s Anti-Aging Cookbook.2014-11-02 16.33.58 There are lots of Superfoods in her book, as they are now called. Dr Heidi was ahead of her time, she wrote that book in 2007.

It’s very important for actors  to remain looking youthful. If it’s a long film shoot, actors need to remain looking the same age as when shooting began. That’s called continuity.

Those actors prone to Cosmetic enhancement could save a fortune on Botox and plastic surgery if all Unit Managers knew Dr Heidi’s as I do.

If word got out, Actors would probably refuse to be in any Films at all, unless I was Unit Manager. My Brilliant Career would become Stellar.

But I guess the Actors Plastic surgeons would probably put out a Hit on me then, movie-style. So I’ve decided to work exclusively on Emma’s films, as I like a quiet life.

For the  Terrine I layered sliced tomato, cooked pumpkin as the centre layer, basil, mozzarella cheese. I mixed together the salad dressing of fresh herbs,  1 tspn wholegrain mustard, 2 tblspns Balsamic Dressing, 2 tblspns Olive oil. Put dressing all over Terrine and refrigerate overnight.

IMG_4915Look at them. Director, and AD, thinking. IMG_4917

Sound Engineer, DOP, AD, Actors.  They look so hardworking. Soon they will consume amazing amounts of food.  And say “OH good, Haribo.’IMG_4918

Being a Director, you can change the way men look. You can put moustaches on them, without anyone crying assault, or control freak.

Here’s an Actor, choosing his Fruit salad. He looks a bit startled. Maybe he’s never had a woman put a moustache on for him.

IMG_4924Go ahead, choose exactly the one that’s perfect for you. Eat with abandon, because I have  a feeling things are not going to turn out well for you.

As I predicted, dead. IMG_4922

Gosh, Emma’s taken his moustache off him after he’s dead. IMG_4933

There’s a word for that, I’m sure. I won’t talk about that  on this Blog. My readers are sensitive people.

In January 2015,  Emma will shoot her first Feature full-length film ‘Papagajka.’

Emma’s written the script  and her film will be set in Sarajevo. It’s the first psychological thriller to be made there. It will be exciting to seeing how a year in Sarajevo, doing her MA at FilmFactory under the mentorship of the great Director Bela Tarr, has impacted on her film-making.

Sarajevo in fullon Winter? Not ideal for me or my Brilliant Career. I would be too cold.  I wouldn’t be at my best.

I met some of the other Film Factory young Directors when I was in Sarajevo. I discovered that Directors are very into Superfoods, so Emma will find one of them to be Unit Manager, I am sure. I could be UMC (Unit Manager Consultant) if she wants. That would look good on the Film Credits.

Perhaps the film after ‘Papagajka’ could be set somewhere warmer. Montenegro? Albania.

I believe they’re lovely in Spring,  fascinating places. I am bound to feel very creative in Warmer climes.

Emma’s film will be funded by her Indiegogo Campaign.

Please go on over to the site #PapagajkaFilm on Indiegogo,  and consider donating. There are some unique, fabulous Perks.

Emma’s mentors believe in her project, so they donated Perks too.  Bela Tarr! Guy Maddin, Brothers Quay! Jonathan Rosenbaum! Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Cristian Mungu!

Oh, look at the Vimeo! The Director herself talks about her film.

Gosh, Emma looks very good.  She looks about 21.  I think it’s all those Superfoods. You can see ‘Papagajka” in Sarajevo, in the background! Read about the Actors, Adnan Omerivic I met him in Tusla. And Susanna Cappellaro

The Crew, Aleksandra Niemczyb, I met her, she’s also into Superfoods. So she’ll be around for a long time, making  Artworks. Look at her website, I love ‘overheard – overlooked’ oil on wood works. And Guy Fixsen, wonderful with Soundscapes. That’s what the Sound, Music is called, I discovered. I’ve met him, too. Talented Annika Summerson DOP, Emma’s excited she will on her Project.

I discovered those are the perks, too, of being Unit Manager. Meeting diversely talented people who are, and will be, Filmmaking Greats.

And finding out all their food quirks.  But that’s a story for another blog!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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6 responses to “My Brilliant Career as Unit Manager and what I found out about Actors and filmmaking

  1. rachelstolzman November 17, 2014 at 12:12 pm

    Hi Lilith, thanks for checking out my blog. I enjoyed reading this one about catering on your daughter’s film project. The humor in your writing is so good! All ebst!

  2. gerard oosterman November 10, 2014 at 2:43 pm

    The food looks delicious. What an exciting life mingling with actors and film directors and that is apart from being in Sarajevo. Balsamic vinegar is a world on its own in salads or anything else worth cooking.

    Here in Sydney there used to be a bar where people could taste different vinegars and oils. You just sat on a long bench and were given samples you could dip hunks of bread in while listening to Baroque music or AC/DC.

    It attracted lots of singles and no doubt some met each other while sampling the different vinegars and virgin oils. It makes a break from getting blotto and ending up in a nighmarish situation under the harbour Bridge or steps of Opera House.

    • lilith January 4, 2015 at 11:21 am

      o! THat’s hilarious, can we hear more about nightmarish situations on steps of Opera HOuse?….hmm…if they provided books too, we could discern who could be silent while we are deep into a book and cannot be disturbed! The ultimate Singles Bar!

  3. Sarah Potter Writes November 9, 2014 at 2:28 am

    You have a very entertaining way of writing. I loved that post. It made me laugh … quite a few times! Some actors don’t find time to eat properly, so I’m sure that to have an adaptable cook like you around during filming is a real boon and stops them starving on set.

    • Lilith November 9, 2014 at 9:39 am

      OH! Glad you laughed..Always good to recheck a day later after posting. I feel even funnier after some sleep. Thanks, Sarah..heading over to yours now to see what you’ve been doing..

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