The Longest Day
You ever wake up for work really early and I’m talking about still pitch-black outside early and think “Ugh, I have to go to work today?” Well, that has never happened to me when I know I have to be on set. In truth: it’s because I love my job. But today really did test me. Now normally I never do just one-day shoots in London, it makes sense to do multiple days and then find a B+B or blackmail a friend for the use of his sofa overnight as the commute from Cardiff takes it’s toll after a long day. A few weeks ago I was asked:
“Are you available on *date* Saturday and Sunday?”
To which I said yes, then got a confirmation e-mail
“Great! You are booked for Sunday!”
Just the one day? Balls…
So, the day started by having an early night and waking myself up at midnight. Yes. 12am. Figuratively and literally the earliest anyone can wake up for work, as I was meeting a few friends in a car park just outside Bath, from there we’d car-share all the way to the ass-end of London. Sounds like a simple and economical plan, except that this car park was a notorious dogging site.
You know that assumption you just jumped to as you read that? Well guess what?
I was first to arrive as I was the furthest away I didn’t want to be late, to a rather… lively road considering this was the early hours of a Sunday morning. The car park itself was fenced off for renovation so I had no choice but to park in an unlit road with the same 3 cars alternating between parking right behind my car, doing a u-turn at the end of the road and going back out and just sitting there in their darkened vehicles. Me, however, wanted to let everyone know I was not there for funny business so kept my drivers door open so the guys I was meeting would hopefully see me as I was illuminated and kept my face stuck in my phone, praying that 9gag would keep me sane. One gent who was doing laps of the place in a white van with a headlight out even approached me and asked:
“Do you know if there’s a show on tonight?”
I wish I were making this up but I swear on my vital anatomy: this happened.
Eventually the guys showed up to rescue me from the debauched alfresco sex-fiends and after we made sure the cars were in a safe and out-of the way place we were London bound.
As there wasn’t much parking at the location, we had previously been instructed to head to one of the main studios (not saying which one!) where a coach would take an hourish to the other end of London. Had a few jovial reunions with several guys on the bus who I’ve met on different productions over the years. Obviously, we didn’t know they’d be there as we weren’t meant to tell people due to ridiculously strict non-disclosure agreements. Still the bus ride was a pleasant way to cram in a power nap which was thoroughly appreciated.
There were 250 of us today so the queues were understandably massive, with the AD’s alternating us between queue for costume and breakfast. I was lucky and got sent straight to breakfast whereas my my mates who I came with had to get changed first. Oh how much I needed that cup of coffee, even if it was instant rubbish!
Costume was hysterical. There was a woman who was throwing her weight around and I could swear that she could be the bastard child of Ms. Trunchbull from Matilda and Hitler himself, straight-up going to a gents face who was casually reading his book in line snorting: “You’re here to work, not read!” before throwing it on the floor at his feet. My mate also told me she confronted him stating “Are you sick?” Confused he answered “No” to which she grabbed his bottle of Lucozade and threw it straight in the bin barking “Good! If you’re sick you shouldn’t be here!” I know we get treating like garbage sometimes but she was taking the piss! I felt more sorry for her colleagues who’d have to work with her for god-knows how long.
Obviously, due to NDA’s and the strictness of this high-profile production I cannot discuss what it is or even what is was we were doing in the scene. Even though the tabloid newspaper was there snapping away and had it all on the internet within a few hours, I’m still not allowed to discuss it. But IF I were to find a link to a paparazzi news story which is “COMPLETELY UNRELATED TO THIS BLOG” there’s no harm in sharing with you guys as the information is already in the public domain, right? Even IF I was the blob on the far right of image 33. Which I’m not, of course.
But what I can tell you all is that my ‘character’ if you will, required bandages so it was quite cool getting bits of me wrapped up and had some expertly-done cuts and bruising going down my face. I also found it quite ironic that the strictness to remove phones from our persons into lockers to prevent leaks was in place but didn’t stop this one kid straight up rolling a spliff in front of everyone on set.
It was another occasion where I was thankful for all my thermals. Not only was we on the mouth of the River Thames with a very cold December wind trying to freeze us to the spot, but also because the costumes were itchy as hell! Like seriously, the bits of my skin which did touch my costume (especially around my collar) felt like the lining had been interwoven with chicken-pox infested poison ivy.
One thing that did surprise me is, despite how many of us there were, the food was brilliant and well organized. In my experience, the more people on set is inversely proportionate to the food quality, regardless of budget. But alas, it was hot (which was a welcome temperature change to our system) tasty and more importantly, they had way too much cake. Oh the horror.
At the end of the shoot, which seemed like an endless day with the lack of a phone or any device with a clock function in that fact, I was lucky enough to be one of the first to sign out which gave me plenty of time for my feet to readjust to comfortable shoes and check my e-mails whilst I waited for my mates.
Then, after the bus to the car, my mates drove me to my car for me then to drive myself home. A half-asleep shower to wash off the fake-dirt and make-up I had the sudden realisation: that this is literally the longest day I’ve ever had working. From leaving my house at midnight to arriving back had been precisely 23 hours. Nearly an entire day of my life dedicated to this one shoot. Yes only 13 or so hours of that was physically on set but even with dozing off on the commutes in between it really did take it out of me.
And you know what? I’d do it all again!