Day 3 – The Long Wait
The SA green room is quite often a surreal experience. Not just aesthetically as in everyone’s in period or weird and wacky costumes which are obviously out-of-place to start with. But riddle me this: what other situation would you find where you are placed in a room with several completely random strangers from all walks of life and you just start chatting with each other with ease and zero social-awkwardness? Difficult to answer, isn’t it?
This is how I and many others pass the majority of the day on set, regardless of creed or even introvertedness. Generally speaking there is so much downtime as an SA. This is for a number of reasons ranging from you’re not needed in the particular scene they’re shooting at present, you have a specific part which is required later, the camera is facing a different direction to you so you’re out of shot, the list goes on.
Luckily I’ve been in the industry so long that 90% of the shoots I go on I’d end up seeing someone I know but as much as it is nice to chat to some lovely and weird (not to mention the occasional bat-shit crazy) SA’s, it is still recommended to bring something to keep you entertained in these quiet moments. A book is the most popular choice whereas mobile phones and tablets are the most obvious choice, but some productions even have strict policies where they confiscate phones before entering the premises to minimise potential plot leaks, especially on popular productions with a large (and crazy) fan-base such as Dr. Who and Star Wars. Sleeping, happens occasionally but sometimes cannot be helped but is very frowned down upon by the crew. Especially one popular TV drama due to one day an SA came in with a sleeping bag, signed in, found a large sofa and slept behind it for the entire day and then woke up when it was time to sign out. That was actually very early in my career and I couldn’t believe the balls of the guy in my inexperienced state.
Today, was one of those days. Call time was 10am was through costume, make-up, breakfast and was sat in the green room at 11am, had lunch at 2pm (ish) and didn’t get taken to set until 6pm Yes, 7 hours without setting foot anywhere near a camera. To exacerbate the situation, there were only 2 of us for company. That day was long. Very, very long. So long I’m embarrassed to say I ran out and regenerated full lives 3 times on Candy Crush (embarrassed because I just admitted I play it, not the running out of lives bit).
Now, if I had £1 for everytime an SA moaned because they were “bored” or “just want to do something”, I’d have enough money to give up this life of sweaty armour and dodgy wigs, fly to L.A. and marry Jennifer Lawrence then drive into the sunset in a gold-plated Lamborghini powered by Unicorn tears. But seriously, we’re in a industry where Joe-public would give their right-leg to be in and you’re complaining just because they don’t need you at this present moment in time? Learn from experience, bring a book, crossword, anything to quit your whining! Shesh!
Again, taking the positive from it, on particularly long and dreary days I like to think that I am getting paid to read my book. Who can say they get paid to read? Admittedly, if you do get paid to read I’d take a wild guess that you’d be in a more comfortable environment and not in faux 16th century chain-mail.
When we were called down, it was evident when we arrived on set why we were kept waiting. The hussle and bussle of everyone going about their business on set was in double-time; it was obvious they running over and was rushing to squeeze in these last scenes before the end of the shooting day.
Half-way through, the 3rd A.D. approached us and asked about our availability for tomorrow. We were both free and without missing a beat he proclaimed “Sorted, your booked” giving us a thumbs up then wandering off back into the fray on mass hysteria and panic.
Well, let’s see what tomorrow brings then, shall we?