Tag Archives: filming

Why Would an Elephant Want to Tap Dance?

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Hello and a very merry Monday to you, you lovely reader!  How was your weekend?  I hope you got some decent rest.

A lot of my weekend was taken up with a film project for my theatre company, Empty Photo.  We were filming a bunch of actor types doing monologues, and I must say they were all bloody marvellous.  The cameraman was my friend Paul, who is an excellent photographer, keen fan of coffee and all-round digital genius.

On the second day of filming he got pretty irate, because some people elsewhere in the studio building were being incredibly noisy.  I mean, elephants-having-a-tap-dancing-lesson kind of noisy, and it was affecting our recordings. This was a real shame, especially when the actors’ performances were so flipping good.  C’est la shared studio space.  I’m sure we’ll find a way to sort the sound out.

The reason I brought that up is because Paul got so cross that he expressed a desire to go upstairs and physically assault the unknown person or persons who were responsible for making such a racket.  While I completely understood and shared his feelings, I realised that people tend to be a lot more vocal and expressive about their anger when it’s directed at strangers.  Isn’t that odd?

We all get cross from time to time, and with people whom we might never meet: noisy neighbours, the person who pulled the emergency brake on your train and made you late for work, whoever it was that used up the loo roll in a public toilet.  These are all people whom we mentally direct venom, anger and disbelief towards: “how could anyone DO such a thing?!” we think.  Well, the awkward thing is that we’ve probably done some of those things ourselves, perhaps without even realising it.  After all, you’re a wonderful human being, but you’re not perfect.

Let’s look at this from the other side: how upset would you be if a stranger came up to you in the street, pointed an accusing finger at you and yelled, “YOU!  You’re the pratface who accidentally knocked my ankles with a pushchair in a shopping centre four months ago!  How do you sleep at night??”  You’d be mortified, wouldn’t you?  First of all, you didn’t mean to spoil this person’s day, but also you’re a complex person who says, does and thinks all sorts of things.  How can someone judge you for having made one mistake when there’s so much more to you?

That’s how I’m trying to think about the noisy people in the other studio yesterday.  I will only ever see them (or hear them, I suppose) as pachyderms with a Billy Elliot complex, but I’m sure that they are many-layered people who have hopes, dreams, sandwich preferences and allergies.

Have the kind of Monday that should be in a movie montage.

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Here We Go Again

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Good morning, lovely reader!  How are you today?  Love the bag, by the way.  Where did you get it from?

Tomorrow my flat mate Ash and I will be returning to Elstree to film our second episode of Pointless.  (For those of you who don’t watch the show, everyone records two shows because you get two chances to go through to the final.  Very generous of the producers, no?)  I am very excited about this, but also very nervous.  You’d think that having done it once before I would be able to swan into the green room and make myself right at home, chat chummily with the make-up lady, wave coquettishly at Alexander Armstrong and generally ooze confidence, charm and wit.  (Sounds exactly like something I’d do, doesn’t it?)

In reality, I will probably fall gracelessly into the studio, make no verbal sense until Ash has force fed me at least three of the complimentary green room coffees, have a sulk because I have’t done enough revision and generally panic about sounding like a moron in front of Alexander Armstrong, whom I absolutely adore.

The last time we went to Elstree Ash and I had a blast: the people were all really nice, the food was good and the experience as a whole was very interesting.  However, because we know what to expect I am hoping that Ash and I will both feel more confident the second time around.  This time I hope that I remember to tell Alexander Armstrong how much my brother and I enjoy his and Ben Miller’s RAF pilot sketches, and that I manage to do so without coming across as slightly weird.

Revision?  Yeah, I should probably do some of that…but I have The Armstrong and Miller Show boxset, so you know… priorities.

Have a glorious Wednesday!  May your professional interactions be productive and courteous.

Welcome to the Hotel Elstree

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Hello, dear reader!  How’s your weekend treating you so far?

I’m sorry I didn’t get around to writing a blog yesterday.  Although there was a lot of waiting around at the television studio, I was kept busy chatting to the other contestants, trying desperately to revise my weaker subjects (especially geography) and consuming free coffee.

Unsurprisingly, Ash and I are not allowed to say very much about our experience of filming Pointless, but I can tell you that we had a lot of fun and the production team, presenters and fellow contestants were all very nice to us.  The aspect of the experience that I am allowed to tell you about (and will be focusing on in today’s blog) is our stay in a nearby hotel the night before filming.

As an actor who has been on a national tour, Ash has stayed in some very good, odd and awful hotels across the country.  When I was working at UK Theatre and doing talks around the country I had my own fair share of bizarre accommodation experiences, but we both very much enjoyed our sojourn in one of the well-known hotels run by a company whose name rhymes with Shmemier Bin.  Even though we’ve been house mates for just over seven months, it was a decidedly new experience for us as a pair.  Here are some of the aspects of our stay which made it a bit different from our usual evenings:

  • Sharing a double bed: we’ve shared a bed many times before, but on this occasion we were in an unfamiliar room.  This meant that when she rolled over and accidentally hit me in the middle of the night, Ash woke up a bit, freaked out that there was someone else there, and hit me again.  Not out of rage or fear, just confusion.  I think as soon as she heard me say “ouch” she worked out who I was and where we were, and happily fell back asleep.  I stayed awake being cross for a few minutes.
  • Having a picnic: Ash and I met at the hotel with a lot of snacks to share, including some cheese biscuits that my lovely mum had made (and which Ash ate a surprising number of, given that she’d just been out for a slap-up meal with her dad).  Again, as house mates we have spent many an evening sitting on our sofa working our way through an unseemly amount of food, but in a new place it felt like a special treat.  If either of us had been to boarding school, it probably would have reminded us of midnight feasts in the dorms.
  • Having yet more food: I cannot extol highly enough the virtues of a breakfast that you’ve not had to cook for yourself.  A glorious buffet of eggs, bacon, sausages, etc. made our 6am start much more manageable, and again, the free coffee went down a treat.
  • Behind closed doors: since there were other contestants in need of overnight accommodation and the rooms had all been booked at the same time by the BBC production team, it shouldn’t have surprised me to discover that the rooms along our corridor were all occupied by people in the same sort of excited/nervous mood as us.  Having said that, walking past a row of closed doors and hearing various voices chanting the periodic table, the kings and queens of England and the capital cities of the world did freak me out a little bit.  This was especially disconcerting given that our main form of revision was gazing vacantly at a map of the world and watching an episode of Dara O’Briain’s School of Hard Sums.
  • Unfamiliar faces: I have never had to try and sleep in a room with a large picture of Lenny Henry’s face on the table, and having done it once, I hope that it will never happen again.  Ironically, this image was being used to promote the hotel’s reputation for guests always having a good night’s sleep, but I can tell you now that nothing is less conducive to proper rest than the image at the top of this blog post.  No offence to Lenny, but at home Ash and I have pictures of our friends and loved ones around us, not famous people trying to kip.

Have a stupendously joyful Saturday.