Three Postcards Food: The Answers!

Back at the end of the school year, I was ASM for the musical Three Postcards. I put pictures up of all the dishes, and let people guess what the food was. What's real? What's fake? What is something other than it is?

So here are the answers for what everything actually was!

"Seafood mousse with mushroom caps and fried grapes"

I put Cool Whip (well, actually, the generic store brand) in the little cup. Then I sprinkled on some Folger's coffee crystals. The grapes were fake plastic. The green stuff is fake plastic grass that I cut off of a mat "fake lawn" every night. Obviously, the actors ate around the fake stuff. The little crackers were real from a box, and were stuck down to the plate with honey.

"Cream of fennel soup"

This was low-fat, non-dairy creamer (trying to keep things healthy for the actors). It's garnished with fresh parsley.

"Cornish hen with bulgar wheat"

The cornish hen is actually made from styrofoam, painted and covered with some kind of poly-styrine... or something like that. We hid a small piece of breaded chicken (nugget-sized) underneath it so that the actors could have something to eat that would look like it. It was garnished with real parsley. The bulgar wheat is cooked brown rice (which helped to hide the chicken). The carrots and asparagus are real, but we bought canned ones so that they wouldn't make as much noise on stage.

The mystery red sauce in the corner? It's dyed honey. The actors had to sing so much during the show AND during the class day that they were doing damage to their voices. They requested that we find a way to put honey on their plates and lemon juice in their drinks. But the honey (clover honey, to be precise) looked too weird on a plate, so we dyed it red.

"Veal paillard"

The veal fake, and made from the same stuff as the cornish hen. We put a piece of chicken under it, too, as well as the same cooked brown rice. The rosemary garnish is plastic, that I cut off from a bouquet of plastic greenery every night. The carrot and the asparagus are real.

Sadly, this picture isn't true to what the dish REALLY looked like. Originally, we were making it with some sort of uncooked Asian noodles, that were long and twisted, and they looked like spaghetti. Near the end of the run (I think the second to last night), we ran out of them. Our designer went out to buy more, but he couldn't find them, so he bought those brown chow-mein-ish noodles. They didn't look anything like the previous noodles, so I personally went on a shopping mission to find some. I couldn't, so I bought the egg noodles. I ended up mixing them for the last two shows and putting them both on.

"The duck with cherries"

As you may have guessed, the duck is fake like the last two, and had a piece of chicken (visibly) laying underneath. I did my best to scrape the breading off to a point where it was similar in color to the fake duck so that it wouldn't be too noticeable from stage. The red sauce is the same dyed honey. There is a cranberry sauce garnish which came from a can (and separated into solid and liquid like that every night, much to my dismay). The "cherries" are plastic grapes. The herbs on top are more fake plastic grass.

"Rum-flavored apple aspic"

The aspic was Jell-O from a snack cup, that I cut in half to make it shorter. I put a dollop of Cool Whip on top. Then I sliced an apple and fanned out the pieces. The actors usually ate more of the apple than of the Jell-O, because it was easier to grab off a plate from across the table.

"Coffee and cream"

The sugar bowl was, as you can see, empty! No one used it, and you couldn't tell from stage, so we just left it like that. The non-dairy low-fat creamer doubled as actual creamer after moonlighting as soup. The coffee was Folger's decaf that I prepared during the show. I had to figure out when to make it so that it would be warm enough to not be gross, but cool enough to be drinkable.

And the winner of the Three Postcards Food Contest is...


(Blogger of A Drop of Water)

Tim correctly identified:
- whipped cream for the "Seafood Mousse"
- milk for the "Cream of Fennel Soup" (well, it's creamer, but I gave it to him)
- brown rice "Bulgar Wheat"
- noodles from the "Veal Paillard"
- chow mein from the "Veal Paillard"
- real apples with the "Rum Apple Aspic"
- real "Coffee"

And in general, he phrased his answers in a way that made me laugh, so I gave him bonus points. (Because it's my contest, and I'm totally allowed to do that.)

The first runner-up was Mary K.!

Mary K. identified:

- real carrots
- real asparagus
- Chinese noodles with the "Veal Paillard"
- cranberry sauce with the "Duck"
- apple slices in the "Apple Aspic"
- gelatin for the "Apple Aspic"
- real coffee and cream (but also said they might be made of gelatin so as not to spill... so I gave her half-points for hedging her bets)

And the second runner-up was Kathleen (aka... my mother!)

My mom identified:
- cream for the "Cream of Fennel Soup" (well, she guessed Half-n-Half...)
- parsley for the "Cream of Fennel Soup"
- fake prop for the "Cornish Hen"
- fake prop for the "Veal Paillard"
- Chow mein noodles for the "Veal Paillard"
- real apples with the "Apple Aspic"
- real cream
- empty sugar bowl!

(But I'm pretty sure that I told my mom about some of the things I was doing with the show before she entered the contest, so I docked her a couple of points).

Tim and Mary K., please send your addresses to AngelaActs(at)gmail(dot)com, and I will send along your prizes. :)

Check back for more contests in the future!



Summer Updates: Part II

So right after posting my last "Summer Updates" post, I was reminded that I left off a few credits (thanks D-Train!). So here goes.

Newbie has been spending the summer in Vermont, acting in the Dorsett Theatre Festival! (I have no idea how this slipped my mind... it's so cool!) She just finished a run of Merton of the Movies, and will be appearing in Agatha Christie's The Hollow from July 22 through August 8. A recent graduate of my program (the actor formerly known as "3rd-Year DY") is in the festival as well, and I believe he will also be in Alice in Wonderland in August.

Iceman got married last week (yay hooray!) up in Alaska. He'll be heading back to Florida soon to be in a workshop of a play called The Blue Guitar. Both of my roommates from last year (the newly-graduated HK, and the almost-3rd-year NP) are going to be in it as well.

Big Show is doing a reading at Player's Theatre in August (but I have no idea what it is).

Yay classmates!



Summer Updates

I'm not the only person in within the 11 of '11 who has been hard at work (and by work, I mean acting/theatre/movies) this summer.

I was working as a stage manager, curtain puller, and general stage hand for some dance shows at a theatre in Connecticut when the summer began.

Killer has been doing light design for an Equity theatre company in Florida.

D-Train is currently in rehearsals for Fat Pig with an Equity theatre company in Florida. ETA: I just found some pictures on Facebook of him working on a graduate film in Tallahassee as well.

Thrill has been in several plays in Florida, with his most recent performance being in W;t (which is one of my favorite plays). Thrill was also in a graduate film in Tallahassee.

Big Show was in W;t with Thrill. He, too, went to Tallahassee to be in a graduate film. He was also in a SAG film called Deadly Closure (which has apparently made his IMDb hits increase by loads this week), and he passed along the trailer to me today.

Official Trailer for "Deadly Closure" from Deviated Films on Vimeo.

Big Show is the convict brother. Isn't it exciting?

Man, I'm totally proud of my class. I can't wait to see them again.



The Film Set

(Me on set!)

As promised, I'm finally going to share my experience working on the short film, Evelyn Sack's Eleven o'Clock Number.

I got to Tallahassee on Saturday evening (July 27th), and the adventure began.

The Production Designer, the Art Director, and I went to Bed, Bath and Beyond to buy some additional props that had not yet been obtained. The three of us were scheduled to go shop for one of my costumes on Sunday afternoon, but I realized that the director wanted to shoot the scene I needed the outfit for on Sunday morning… We ended up getting to the mall 30 minutes before it closed. In a mad dash, we went to 6 stores in that 30 minutes, I tried on a bunch of really ugly things and a couple of cute ones, and we bought two dresses, a suit, a jacket, and three shirts (knowing that most of these items would be returned unworn).

On Sunday morning, I got up, straightened my hair, and went to a television news studio where we were filming our first scene (which is chronologically last in the film). I ended up wearing a red dress we bought at Ann Taylor Loft (the first thing we bought in our shopping rampage) with a black jacket that I had brought with me to Florida. That first scene went pretty well, and was totally a piece of cake! We only did a few takes.

We went to the place we were filming afterward, which is turned out is this huge house. And when I say house, I mean mansion. It has two kitchens, two laundry rooms, maids’ quarters, and even its own guest house. It’s pretty incredible. I rehearsed with the other actress, and we choreographed our big fight scene.

On Monday, I woke up early and went through my Fitzmaurice tremoring and my other vocal warm-ups, despite the fact that the scenes we were filming that day were for an action sequence without dialogue. Somehow, just going through the warm-ups puts me in a better state of mind to act.

I got to the set around 6:15am. My character was supposed to have sort of given up on her appearance. I happened to already own a muted brown suit that looked pretty drab on camera. I also wore a turquoise tank top and black shoes that I owned. We let my hair air-dry. I wore my glasses, and I had no make-up on. When the Production Designer (she was in charge of the way the costumes, set, and props looked) saw me, she said, “You look terrible. It’s perfect!” Initially, I was mildly offended (after all, I was wearing all my own clothes and looked how I normally look on Mondays), but I understand that it’s a little different for camera.

People were setting things up long before the other actress and I had anything to do. Around 8:00am, the First A.D. (which seems to translate to a Stage Manager in theatre) called for a “New Deal”. The New Deal happened before every scene that we shot. The other actress and I would act out the entire scene while the rest of the crew watched (most were seeing it for the first time) and the Second A.D. videotaped it. Then, the Director of Photography (who is in charge of cinematography -- designing the lighting and setting up shots) explained all the angles that the scene would be filmed from, and with what camera lenses. After the new deal, the crew started setting up everything to prepare for the first shot.

This movie was being filmed on a camera called “The Red” (called that because it has a red lens), which produces digital film. It’s a lot less expensive than traditional film, and everything is shot in HD.

Before each shot, I’d have to stand on several marks (i.e. places that I would end up during the course of the action) and the crew would arrange things around me. The D.P. (Director of Photography) held up a device to whatever was supposed to be in focus in the shot (usually my face, but sometimes a prop I was holding) and call out that things were at various numbers (like “2.8” or “4”), and then the camera team would adjust things. I asked if the device measured light. They explained that a camera lens works a lot like a human eye. Just as our pupils adjust depending on the light in the room, camera lenses have to do the same to get a clear picture. The device was not technically measuring the light, but rather was measuring how much the camera’s equivalent of a pupil had to open in order for the shot to work.

The camera team also used a measuring tape to figure out the distance between the camera lens and my eyes. From what I could gather, the focus of the camera is operated manually, and the two people operating the camera have to make adjustments mid-shot when actors move. For some really close shots, I was told that I had to hit my mark within two inches or the shot would be “soft” (fuzzy and not focused). That was especially crucial – and difficult – for a shot where I fell to the ground and had to land in the same place every time. I got pretty good at hitting my marks as a result of that shot.

We spent all of Saturday just filming the fight scene over and over again from every angle possible. Sometimes the camera was static, and sometimes it moved on a track. Sometimes one of the actors wasn’t in the shot at all, so the person who was had to react to something imaginary. Sometimes they moved the furniture around in order to “cheat” shots (make it look like an angle was right when it really wasn’t for the sake of continuity).

Between takes, the director would come over to me to privately give me instructions. "I need you to be crazier, and sickly enjoy hurting her," for example. A couple of times I got, "pull it back," and a couple of times I got, "don't be afraid of going too far," depending on the shot. A lot of times I was told to slow things down (so that it will be easier for them to cut things together in editing; film acting involves far slower of impulses than stage acting). After filming, he made a joke that he wanted me to have, "Flames. Flames, on the sides of your face..." (it's a quote from the movie Clue).

(The Director, giving me notes)

Before every take, they called for "Last Looks", which meant that the Production Designer would make sure everything looked consistent to how it looked in every other take, so that the footage would cut together properly in the editing room. My character was supposed to be sweating and stressed out. Therefore, my Last Looks meant getting my face, shoulders, and hair sprayed with water from a spray bottle, and messing up my hair, and then patting me down if the water looked too drippy. For the other actress, it meant making sure that her facial mask looked perfect (and since I was "smothering" her with a pillow in most takes, it needed a lot of touch-ups... and it meant cleaning some of her mask off of the pillow).

(The other actress and me posing by her "heart monitor".)

During the times that the crew was preparing for shots, the other actress and I occasionally had a little time to head over to Craft Services, which is where all the food for the cast and crew is, and is probably the most dangerous thing on a film set. Apparently, crews eat pretty much only junk food. There were so many different kinds of cookies and crackers and muffins… I successfully managed to avoid all of the really treacherous food and tried to eat mostly fruits and veggies, but it wasn’t easy. At one point, the Producer (which, for this project, was sort of the equivalent to a Production Manager) went out and got me pineapples and bananas (which I swear that I did not request in a diva fashion, and he was super sweet to get them for me).

(Me trying to stay out of people's way between takes)

By the end of the first day, I realized that being on a film set felt sort of familiar to me; it’s a lot like being an actor in a play during tech weekend. Some of the crew people have tons to do (Director, Director of Photography, First A.D., Gaffer, Key Grip, Best Boy Electric, First Camera Assistant, Camera Operators), some of the crew people have a lot of time where they’re just waiting around for the chance to do something (Sound Team, Script Supervisor), and the actors have to stand in places for long periods of time, and then repeat the same 10 seconds of a scene over and over again. In short, it felt like I had one of the easy jobs.

That said, by the end of the day, I was tired. Being on set was exhausting. And the fact that I was doing a lot of combat (well, stage combat… but I don’t know if you call it the same thing when it’s not on stage) all day was probably the culprit.

The second day (Tuesday), we filmed every other scene in the movie. We filmed in an order that was not chronological in any way, but seemed intuitive to the crew in terms of set-up locations. Because the set ups were all over the house, it meant more downtime for the actors. And since I didn't have to be "sweaty", I didn't have to get sprayed down with the water at all.

There was one scene in which I had to run down a staircase. And then they'd call "cut", and I had to climb back up the stairs and do it again. I got my exercise that day.

Near the end of the day, a couple of the crew's professors showed up to check in on them. I think it was their Production Design professor and their Cinematography professor.

(The man with the ponytail is their Cinematography professor. Among his many credits, he did the Underwater Photography for the movie Jaws.)

After all of my scenes had completed, the crew applauded for me. They were really sweet. I then went and watched the monitor as the other actress filmed her final shots. They looked so cool! I was excited.

Once she finished, the other actress and I went off with the Sound crew. Normally, we'd be called in during the editing process to say lines while watching ourselves on the screen for any parts where the sound wasn't clear, which is called "ADR" (one person said it stood for "Automated Dialogue Replacement", and another said "Additional Dialogue Recording"... both are on Wikipedia, so who knows?). But I'm pretty far out of town, so I'm not really able to come back for that. Instead, we went to a quiet room and recorded our lines a few times into a microphone, trying to say everything with the same speed, inflections, and accidental paraphrases (or rewrites) that we used in the filming. They called these recordings "wilds".

One of my favorite things to witness happened after all the filming was over and most things had been packed up. The people who were ATL ("Above the Line" -- Director, Director of Photography, Production Designer, Producer) went through and thanked all the BTL ("Below the Line" -- everyone else) and the other ATL for their help. It was lovely. Every single person on that set was important. And it was neat how we all worked together to create something.

(Me with the Artistic Director, Daniel. I stole these pictures from his Facebook.)

Anyway. It was a wonderful experience, and I feel incredibly blessed to have been a part of it. I hope I have more opportunities to work on screen in the future.

All good things,



Film Screen Shots!

As those of you following me on Twitter know, I worked on a graduate student film in Tallahassee last weekend. I started typing up information about the whole process (it was so cool!), but haven't had time to finish it yet...

But, in the meantime, the Director of Photography took some screencaps of the footage, so I thought I'd share them with you.

Lara (me) in silhouette on the phone with her boss.

Lara on the phone with her boss.

Evelyn walks to her vanity.

Evelyn putting on makeup to make herself look sick.

Evelyn telling Lara how worthless she is.

Evelyn sleeps while Lara tries to murder her.

It looks like a real movie! I'm so geeked, I can't even tell you. :)