Friday, May 31, 2013

Filming on the Beach

Filming on the Beach

“Is This the Author or the Super Star?” -Kees
Have you ever wondered what happens when you drag a writer out of her cave…on the first sunny day of the year?
About a month ago, one of Maria’s good friends from Amsterdam, Jan Henk, asked if I’d be interested in playing a role in a short clip for the upcoming release of a new project he’s been working on. Jan Henk is the man who has taken an interest in my book “Sihpromatum – I Grew My Boobs in China” and has been trying to find a publisher in Holland so we can have it translated into Dutch. He has been wonderful to me and I am so grateful to him for having faith in me and my book. He is currently dealing with Kluitman Publishing which is a good sized children’s book publisher in Alkmaar. After all he has done for me, I was happy to agree to be his actress for a day to help with the promotion of the new internet website he’ll be launching in June.
Jan Henk always has something to say about history, the latest fashion, hottest music and always asks me, “do you know so and so?” or  “this and that?” and I continue to surprise him by saying “no.” What can I do but laugh, “You make me feel like I live under a rock!”

"Yes, you do, where have you been living?" hahaha. I really am focussed on my own thing, and it makes me realize how much I am not up with my contemporary arts, hits, media etc. Perhaps I need to spend more time with Jan Henk!

He being so business-like it was a hoot to meet his good friend Paul, the cameraman. He welcomed us into his house, full of character and stacked to the roof with old dust collecting books, CDs and music... a true artist’s house and someone who has been living a life of enjoyment and beauty.

"You are always early!" Paul says, just sitting down to breakfast. "Because I know that you are always late," Jan retorts. I knew immediately these two were complete opposites and made a wonderful match.

After hearing all about his filming and script-writing successes I was expecting something quite different. Before we’d even begun Paul was saying how lovely the weather was for a cup of coffee on the beach, setting the stage that we were in no rush at all. It was nice to see that artistic, creative people are in constant need of pleasure and enjoyment, making me feel a little less guilty about my work ethics. He laughed freely and had an endearing smile, surrounded by the scruff of his beard. He actually had a deep French twist to his accent, making it even more perfect for the character he was building up to be in my mind. 
They spoke mostly in Dutch, surprising me with how much Dutch I actually know! Some words of course, like "minister" or "pastor" I don't know, but I'm learning.

Paul’s done all kinds of filming for well-known people and from the sounds of it he’s been all around the world and to some very remote places such as Mali and Congo. This impressed me as I’m still wondering how he managed to film there, and it was something we both could relate to. One of his next projects will be interviewing Armenians living in Turkey and how the genocide still affects them today. His clip on Mali will be playing next month on Dutch tv, so I hope I will get the chance to see some of his work.                          
As we walked down to the seemingly endless stretch of Bergen’s smooth sandy beach, after a lekker cappuccino, Paul only laughed about his brand new camera not yet being insured. I think this was its first outing...a perfectly appropriate practice run, wouldn’t you say?

I love how it always seems that behind a massive, expensive camera you have the wildest artist standing waving his hands, acting out the scenes etc. This was Paul. In contrast to Jan Henk’s gel styled hair, fashionable leather jacket and shoes, Paul has shoulder-length hair, and wore a plaid shirt with a vest then loose jeans and boots, he was in very relaxed attire. I was happy for this because his relaxed, comfortable energy really set the mood for the day; that we were going to make it fun, and not have to stand around with sticks up our bums. His 24 year old assistant Raf was very friendly, with French-like curly hair and dark eyed features… it wasn’t until later that I found out his father is French, though they claimed he looks nothing like him. I am constantly writing scripts and creating characters in my mind about the things and people I meet. Raf was helpful in giving me tips as we shot the scenes, like not to blink so much! You just don’t notice those small things while you’re concentrating on the script and where your head needs to be.
In the beginning of the day, the shore was covered in giant mounds of shimmering bubbles like a big bathtub, floating in the wind and bouncing playfully like white marshmallowy Jell-O on the shores.
My experience in the film industry being an extra on many movie/TV show/music video/ commercial sets in Egypt had me somewhat prepared for what to anticipate. Filming takes a lot of time with reshoots, preparing the camera for the lighting, settings and then of course, the actress needs to have her lines down, which were 1-5 sentences long. It was a team effort, sometimes it was me fumbling on my lines, in which Paul would say, "pick it up again,” or it was a matter of technical and filming problems.
Some scenes I had the audio box clipped to the back of my belt, mic clipped furtively to my bra, other times depending on the level of wind and distance of the shoot, Raf would hold up the boom, the large handheld microphone attached to a long pole, over my head.
As the cameraman and his apprentice ran left and right, Raf running behind holding up the audio wires, the boom and other equipment between shoots, Jan Henk would be on standby to help me back into my jacket.

Luckily, like us, no one was expecting to have such great weather after all the months of grey and rain, so the beach was not busy. There were a few dogs and kids making castles in the sand. We had to ask a few people if they could move out of our shot. It started to get busier later in the day, especially at the restaurant where we were shooting. Apparently everyone was looking, and others were asking if we were filming a movie, but I was so concentrated on what I needed to be doing that I hardly noticed the stares.

The day consisted of me walking up and down the beach, walking through the water and the bubbles, running up and down the dunes through prickly grass and up and down stairs. By the end of the day I had my share of battle wounds and stiff muscles. I had also started to get really red, and the guys tried to do their best to cover me up, but it was too late. I just never expected to have such great weather!!
When I got home I was no longer a shade of human, and I don’t’ know if I belong to the lobster or tomato family. You just never expect to get burned at home or at least that's how I feel. But it's home that catches you most off guard. 

So now I’m sitting in a dark box hiding once again from the sun, covered in cucumber skins on the second most beautiful day this year, hahah. .
But I did have a wonderful time yesterday. Jan Henk was very gracious in treating us to a wonderful day full of cappuccinos, a lovely lunch, drinks to our satisfaction and keeping our spirits high. I can't thank him enough for letting me be a part of this. It has been great fun and I hope we get the chance to do more projects together.

I feel a bit frustrated with myself that I haven’t been writing on the blog as much as I’d like. I still have at least 2 or 3 blogs to write about Guinea. I just booked a ten day holiday for our birthdays next month so I am really hoping to get those Guinea blogs done before we take off, so I can start fresh with new material.
For an update on what I’ve been doing, I have a few more interviews and photo essays on other great travel blogs.

True Nomads photo essays SRI LANKA: