Recently it feels like I’ve been living in a pinball machine. I’m noisily bouncing between clients, projects, emotions, and baggage. In moments of clarity I’m actually astounded by the fact that I’m a separated toddler-mom/creative entrepreneur, and producing a short film while basically living out of a suitcase.
Last year this time I was pregnant. I was married. I had no idea that only a couple weeks later I'd be going through my 2nd miscarriage of the year. I had no idea that Hubs and I would drift into a different context, or how quickly Baby Girl would move from being my baby to being my little girl.
Life moves fast.
So fast, that I get scared I’m going to forget to teach Baby Girl the really important stuff.
Sunday we were on location at the Running Room from 8am to 12pm.
We had 2 scenes to finish shooting in that time, the weather was wet, we had a ton of equipment to move into the modest retail space and set up... By day 4, everyone was feeling the wear and tear of long days so we were all featuring a bit more of an edge than usual.
The Vancouver location was perfect for us. Perfect. The staff was awesome and we even had a visitor from their head office in Edmonton drop by ‘the set’. It felt really good to know that we were going to showcase this awesome Canadian brand in our short.
The head of BC events was actually helping us move racks around and basically doing set decoration.
There was just one teeny tiny little thing. There was a running group at 8:30am, as well as a massive race pick-up scheduled for noon, sharp. Just to clarify, by massive they meant about 1200 people were going to be coming into the store to check-in, pick up their pinnies and other racing gear. We needed to be OUT by then.
Oh wait—don’t forget customers coming in and out. The store was open for business as usual. We didn’t want to be disruptive at all. Because really, how could a crew of 14, and a ton of cables, cameras, and lights be at all disruptive in a retail environment? Ha.
I was still scattered from saying goodbye to Baby Girl. That and the fact that I’d gotten a call from her dad almost apologetically saying that I’d forgotten to put her passport in her bag.
Of course I had.
I guess she’d sort of need that to get on the plane to Toronto. Balls.
I had decided to be ultra responsible and actually use the hotel safe at the Fairmont Waterfront for all of our important papers. Which was great, except for the fact that using a safe was not routine for me in the least. It was the one thing I completely forgot to empty. Of course I totally remembered to pack the extra baby shampoo and bath wash they gave me. Sigh.
Note to all working moms traveling with their kids—don’t try anything to tweak your personal routine while you’re away. Because seriously, in moments of total exhaustion you end up reverting to your basic, primal, non-safe using instincts. Just saying.
So at the end of a long day of shooting the night before our super early morning on location at Running Room, my awesome co-producer had to drive me out to the airport hotel strip so I could deliver my toddler’s passport. It was 1am.
Call time for hair and make up was 6:45am.
And did I mention that my co-producer/impromptu chauffeur was also the writer and lead actor? So it’s not like he needed any rest. Cringe.
I have no idea how we did it, but between no sleep, a slow start, a stream of customers, interrupting door chimes, and avid Running Room runners and would-be racers, we actually managed to get all the shots we needed that morning.
The thing that kept the experience light and fun was the enthusiasm of all the Running Roomers from head office to the sales floor. It was contagious. They were excited to be a part of our project, and the feeling was mutual.
I was so pumped by their sponsorship and support that I briefly considered doing a running clinic. Briefly.
Then I realized that I should probably stick to running this production—at least for now.
Thanks Running Room! You guys rock.
PS. A super huge thank you to Pure Souls Photography who captured some amazing stills and behind the scenes shots for us!
So here's the deal. Baby Girl and I went out to Vancouver on Thanksgiving Monday, and settled in at the Fairmont Waterfront Vancouver for 5 days during a whirlwind of preproduction. That Thursday we started shooting a short film called Ten Thousand Steps — the first film I've ever produced. Gulp. A complete passion project. I've kept a journal throughout the entire production, and I'm sharing it with you. Here's what went down on Saturday.
“I’m making a movie. My mummy’s making a movie here. In the mountains.” Baby Girl’s voice pipes up to the lady in the elevator.
She has been velcroed to my side for the past week and I have loved every second. I’m on set for day 3 and she is part of our family. She has friends. She is our mascot. Maybe even our champion.
She’s going home tomorrow.
As we break for dinner on the cramped set, she is snug in the lap of our amazing craft service provider, Natasha.
Baby Girl’s eyelashes are casting a shadow over her cheeks and all at once she is sound asleep. A sudden hush falls over our boisterous group. It is so sweet and disarming to see everyone tentatively peer over to make sure they haven’t woken her up. I want to cry with joy seeing her so relaxed and happy, even in the midst of all these moving parts.
I feel proud for a second. I allow myself that.
I can’t believe that we’ve already been here in Vancouver for almost 6 days.
I watch our director of photography, gaffer, Tabatha our director, and Dave our writer/actor quietly construct a fort around her to make sure that nap time lasts. She has her toys with her, some plastic horses from home, a stuffed bumble bee that the folks from the Fairmont Waterfront left as a gift, and some action figures inherited here on set. She loves everyone. And they love her.
Later that night back at the hotel, she asks me where everyone is.
“Mummy, where is Fiona? Where is pretty Tabatha? I can’t reach this. I need Dave to reach this. Where is Shuffles the cat? Can’t I play with everyone?” There are large tears in her beautiful eyes.
“Yes Sweets, you can play with everyone another time. Right now we have to get ready for a very special trip. Do you know who’s coming to play with you tomorrow?”
“Fiona? We had French fries.”
“I know. Fiona will play another time. I promise. But we’re going to get packed up and make sure you have all your toys, and then a very very special person is going to come and play with you, and take you back to the Little House in Toronto.”
“Nice Lady Nasha? Tabby Lady? Dave is really Iron Man so he is a little special. He can take me.”
This is killing me. I don’t want to say goodbye. I don’t want to be without her and the waves of Mummy Guilt are flooding through my ambition.
“No honey. Daddy. Daddy is going to pick you up. Isn’t that wonderful? Daddy came out to the mountains to do some work too. So tomorrow, Mummy is going to stay and finish making the movie, and you and Daddy are going to have some very special fun together and ride on a plane and everything!”
“Oh wow that sounds great. I like Daddy. And flying. But Mummy…I like movies. I like the mountains. I like the ocean. I want to stay here with you. I want to play with Fiona. And Spiderman. I need my pink car, and Shuffles the cat. Mummy, I need you. Please let’s stay. Maybe Daddy can stay a while too.”
That’s it for me. My eyes are a buckling damn and I can’t control the tears. I tell myself to pull it together. It’s lack of sleep. Yep. That’s what it is. We’re all stretched a little thin from this project.
I scoop my sweet blonde bundle into my arms and breathe her deeply. She puts her teeny hands on either side of my face and says “Mummy, I love you so much.”
My heart is ripping.
Not for the first time I wish desperately for some way to pause my life. Just to think for a minute without feeling the pressure of time passing. There’s got to be a way to have it all.
I wish she could stay with me the whole time. I wish I could somehow figure it out. I mean, of course I want her to spend time with her awesome Dad, but she's my amazing kid. The flash of her eyes is what inspires me to keep going after my dreams. Her sticky little face is my beacon of homecoming no matter where we are.
‘But you know Kat, it’ll be more simple. It’ll be way easier for you to work on set.’
Yeah. My team is right. Ok.
But the absence of your child does not revert you to pre-motherhood.
Once a mom, always a mom.
None of the other credits I might earn here mean as much as that.