This is it. This is what I’ve been training for. This is the moment that it all comes down to.
The first day of our shoot.
We don’t have a set decorator, a 1st Assistant Director, continuity, or wardrobe.
The director has been puking all night, and I have no on set help with my daughter today.
Surprisingly, most of me doesn’t care about the potential obstacles in our path, because things are finally underway. Even though there's a strange queasiness lurking in my gut, I still feel swept up in the contagious momentum of our project and how it has come together.
I have a few minutes before I jump into the car and head over to set.
We’re picking up equipment from White’s this morning, and shooting until about midnight tonight.
We have a bunch of shots to get through today, and for most of the interiors, there will be about fourteen people, hot lights, and super heavy gear stuffed into a 700-square-foot apartment.
You learn how to share space quickly on set.
Relationships are defined in the extreme, as you spill over into each other’s tasks and work together to pull a fictional reality together. It’s pretty surreal, actually, and somewhat addictive. The team becomes a kind of cohesive amoeba of creative execution—a sort of dirty, sweaty, scruffy family that busts in on the scene and lives in a makeshift caravan of c-clamps, and cables, and cameras, and booms.
So, what would happen when my two-year-old joined their ranks?
What if she was in the way?
What if she hated them?
What if bringing her on to set was the worst mistake I’d ever made?
I could tell that my team was wavering with these thoughts, too. They didn’t know me as a mom, they only knew that I had signed on to produce their film. And I’m sure they wondered if I could follow through when dirty diapers would trump everything.
Frankly, I wondered the same thing.
And to be completely honest, there were many times when I didn’t know how I would be able to juggle everything.
At the end of the day, I found myself bashing through things rather indelicately—baby on hip, while I figured out wardrobe for the support; bringing her into my world of contracts and posts, while sitting in a fort on set; watching her pet dead cat mics lovingly, or hide behind scrims.
But that’s what happens in real life.
People adapt. At any age.
And just like my two-year-old had to adapt to a new routine, people, and customs, I had to adapt to the fact that my kid was happy without conventional comforts. I had to accept that she was going to miss the people and the fun on set, as much as she might miss me when she left to go back to Toronto.
Amazing how a pint-sized little thing can toy with your heart like a wrecking ball.
Amazing how she can win over a team of hardened creatives.
Amazing how nothing matters when you’re doing what you love, together with the people you love.