JISHOU, HUNAN — My first brush with Chinese film making has ended. Now I’m waiting to see the results, like everyone else.
My services were needed for only three days. I’ve already related the first two days’ events. The last day was Tuesday, coincidentally the last day before a week-long break for the National Holiday.
First off, consider that my schedule that day began with four hours of classes, and ended with four hours of classes. Sandwiched between these sessions of Oral English was that day’s filming in Aizhai and Dehang and a very late lunch at 3 pm. A really long day.
Along the way, I got a better idea of my role in the movie. One scene on Tuesday had me in hiking clothes in Dehang, coming across a local woman drumming in the local Miao style in a canyon.
This scene happened some years in the past. At the time, my character, Jason, was moved to the point of tears and wanted to meet this woman, but she refused to see me. I left disheartened.
My other scene filmed on Tuesday was in the Ford used earlier. Jason is in the back seat looking at the video he made of the woman years ago, and once again is moved to tears. Somehow the lead characters in the mini-movie reunite me and the Miao drummer woman, but those intervening scenes don’t involve me.And that was it. For three days’ work, amounting to about 15 hours of time, I received 1,000 yuan (about $160, so about $10 an hour) and three free meals. I got to keep the bad ass sunglasses (as my daughter calls them) I wore on the first two days of filming and a ring, which I found online for 2 yuan, about 30 cents. On the downside, the sunhat I offered as a hiking accessory was lost, though I suspect a member of the camera crew adopted it while the prop manager wasn’t paying attention. Attempts to retrieve it failed.
The ring, incidentally, has the Lord’s Prayer — in Spanish — written in it. Chinese fashion is eclectic. One wonders if the designer even realized what he or she was using in designing the ring.
I did learn a few things along the way.
- Crying on command is very difficult, even aided by eyedrops and stage make-up, and fairly exhausting. On the third day of filming, the crew forgot to pack the “tear drops,” so we improvised with my re-wetting drops.
- Film acting is a lot of fun, but also involves a lot of boring downtime.
- The male lead, Hua Kun, is a good actor and a very good photographer, and I got along with him very well.
- The female lead, Qu TongYu, is a good actress, but rather self-absorbed. Her downtime was usually spent with her boyfriend whose involvement with the movie seemed otherwise minimal. She also has a kind of wheedling tone when asking for something, which would get on my nerves if I had to spend more than two days working with her.
- The director, Chen XiaoXi, is a likable perfectionist. Being fairly young, he may be embarking on a successful film career. As far I know, this is his third movie.
As soon as I learn when the movie is finished, I’ll post it here.