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Acting is one of those any-hour jobs. At two in the morning you could be shooting a scene set in the dusky cold of a mystery drama, only to get up for nine in the morning to rehearse for that play down in the West End. It’s incredibly exhausting, you lose count of the amount of times you forget a line or think a plot thread is in the wrong play but I tell you, television sets are the worst! You probably think they’re giant empty lots, right? Well, you’d be wrong. Most of the sets I’ve been to look something like giant open plan factories. And they’re usually won’t be more than one piece being made at one time. Complicating this further, you have a film being made in RT1 (RT stands for Room Theater), Sit-com construction in RT2, etc. Even worse is the labeling for the RTs. Rt1ab, RT12abd. These are beginning to sound more like abstract drugs than room numbers.
That’s one of the things I blame the incident on. Already confused and a little frazzled, I had been working on close to 8 hours sleep for 4 days. Even coffee was pushing the effects of sleep-deprivation and this new set was really throwing me off. Fortunately I was in the same building for two different productions. In RT2, I was filming a light hearted comedy about a children’s television entertainer called “Mrs Toggle”. Awful, if I’m honest with you, but I had a parking ticket I need to pay off. In RT8, which I should mention by the way is a 30 minute walk from RT2, there was a grandiose slasher horror set. Normally these types of “art” are filmed on location but this film was set in a parallel universe and required green and blue screen effects, so it was easier to shoot the bigger scenes in this building… or so I was told anyway. It struck me as odd that two very different clashing productions were taking place in one building. Often props became mixed up with set designs and the wrong make-up palettes would be sent to the wrong locations. I remember once when filming “Pandora: Return of The Killer Queen” (yes, that really WAS what it was called) I looked in my costume fittings only to find that my colourful wig had been placed on top of my vampiric blood stained garments. It was funny at the time… obviously now, not so much.
So, everything began when I arrived to film more of this tedious slasher movie. I began the long walk down to the obnoxious production when I saw a production assistant waiting at where the buggy carts usually where. We had buggies to make the journey through the sets a little quicker you see. I was already late and upon seeing that there were no carts today I started to panic.
The assistant trotted over to me and handed me a release form.
“Fuck!” I sighed. Release forms meant that I had to come back for a re-shoot… and usually the fat-cat directors would set these on my off-days so they wouldn’t have to shell any more money out if I was out on assignment. Just my luck.
“I’m sorry that the buggies are all in use today, Ms Watson. You should also be aware that RT8 is relocating your dressing room to RT8214b. The damp was just becoming too extensive in your prior room. Is there anything I can get you?” The assistant pulled a garishly wide grin, as if to suggest he didn’t want me to shout and complain about the fact I had never even noticed that there was any damp before.
“Coffee.” I sighed, too lethargic to argue.
“Of course. Would you like me to escort you to the-“
“No thanks” I said, almost too quickly. Being on this job for several weeks now, I was fairly certain I could make my way over to the relevant studio without becoming lost. To be perfectly honest, I just wanted the day to fly so I could crawl back into bed again.
“Excellent,” His smile slipped somewhat. Christ, another fan. “I will bring your coffee over to you”. He slumped slightly as he made his way to the café.
“Thanks!” I called out, to my eternal shame I forgot to ask his name.
After what seemed like hours, I finally arrived. People fretted about me as I was already late of course. I was pushed into my new dressing room and left to change. RT2814b. Yes, that’s what the coffee guy said. It took me about 20 minutes to slip on the leather tight skin suit with satin gloves. My fangs slipped into place and as I was filming a gore scene, my “barely-there” look would work. It was strange to see my props had been set out for me. Ever heard of Brandon Lee? Well he was the main star of “The Crow” who died tragically during filming, when one of the fake, unloaded guns was swapped for the real deal. Loaded. Cocked. Ready for the kill. But I didn’t have time to ponder this too much, my call had already been pegged at the one minute mark. So I grabbed the samurai sword and banded on set. My director at the time was very much improv centred. He liked to just let me walk on set and act. His camera guys were under instruction to just film and not cut unless he liked how the scene was going. Then they’d edit in the angles.
Eager to get this over with I bounded towards the puppets that were sat neatly in a line on the floor. The first few were quickly decapitated with my samurai sword. No expense was spared on the puppetry I noticed. Their faces had been fit with motors so their eyes could dilate and react to the mauling. The bodies had been crafted so that when I cut through the torso with one swipe, hyper realistic intestines would gush out of the stomach as the little doll would topple over and grapple at the exposed organs. It impressed even me, although of course I’d seen it all before.
I had successfully “killed” my subjects and looked up at Todd, my director for advice.
Todd wasn’t there. I looked around the set I was standing on. An all-white background for the green and blue screen effect, except for the blood of course. Yep, they were definitely ready for me, so where the fuck was Todd?
I turned back around incredulous only to see the terrified coffee guy holding my costume for the kids’ show.
“Y-your department…there was a mix-up in props” He stammered, throwing down the clown-like colourful robes onto the floor.
Constrained annoyance on my face grew unstable when I saw a desk full of props. A desk that had been splashed with comically oversized paint bubbles, adorned with crayons, pens and anything you’d find in a standard youngsters’ crafts’ box. Approaching the desk…a name-tag made my legs fall from under me. Vomiting, I limped towards the phone booth on the wall and proceeded to call emergency services.
The name-tag had read: “The most loving and gentle Mrs Toggle”.
“Emergency, which service do you require?”
“Madam…is anyone there?”
I don’t remember much else. Everything has been such an arid blur since the inquiry. Apparently, I kept stammering the same thing:
“I…I must be…I must be on the wrong set”