So, I’ve decided that my first “Fascinating Firsts” post should be something truly fascinating. I’d write about my first ever role, but that was just a standard-issue first role (you know: like 5–7 scenes where I say very little, maybe less than 10 lines). Besides, that happened in October 2013 and I don’t really remember much of it apart from the fact that it involved a lot of waiting for my turn and the part where I completely humiliated myself and became the laughingstock of an entire film set and I kind of don’t feel like blogging about that now, do I?
Well, I thought what happened on this day is worthy of my first “Fascinating First” entry:
Oh, look: I posted that on 12:51, just like The Strokes’ song.
I can’t remember if it was even on purpose.
It all started like any other audition: one of my agents sends me off to an audition for that thing I’ve been typecast into… And it ended just like any part I end up getting: I get cast for something I didn’t originally audition for.
That day, after I’m done doing my thing, the casting director approaches me and he has that look on his face. I know that look: it’s the look casting directors and casting assistants have when they think you might be better for something else and that something else happens to a supporting role (or something smaller than you originally auditioned for). Apparently actors are supposed to have this thing called a ‘big ego’ and it’s supposed to hurt their delicate feewings when they don’t get to play lead roles. Boo-hoo.
The first time I had casting ask me whether I was “wiling” to play supporting was at an audition for an ad that involved beauty queens (we all auditioned together in groups of four and played winning pageant contestant, runner-ups, and losing in a cycle). When casting asked the actresses in the room, “if the client decides you should play a supporting role [one of the losing contestants], would you be wiling to take the part? Because we understand some actors aren’t wiling to do that kind of thing and we understand, but we’d just like to know who’s okay with it and who’s not [to avoid drama and time-wasting].” The casting director/assistant looked terrified. LOL.
I didn’t care (probably because I was the least attractive girl in the room–still not even sure how I got that audition in the first place). I actually enjoyed playing one of the defeated girls more, it was just more interesting: I Googled beauty queens and learned what ‘keprok-keprok’ (being obligated to clap when another contestant wins instead of you, and all sorts of weird stuff) means and I really liked being bitter and sour-smiling and being salty for winners I wasn’t really happy for. The audition itself was nearly as catty as a real-deal pageant, and I say this as someone who’s never really met a stereotypical “catty actress” before. It was basically like a beauty pageant within a beauty pageant, an Inception of beauty pageants (if you can even imagine such thing). And when I said, “I don’t care [about playing supporting roles in ads],” one of the actresses gave an Indonesian equivalent of a horrified gasp, as if agreeing to playing supporting roles was the equivalent of selling all my artistic integrity… to The Devil.
Okay, I’m rambling.
Point is: I know the drill.
I know when a casting director starts looking petrified, they’re trying to carefully break the news that you’re probably better suited for one of the smaller roles they have, you know… without breaking your ego.
And I’m like, “yeah, yeah… I’ll play supporting.”
And he’s like, “but no… We want to ask you if you’d be wiling to be a hand talent.”
And I’m like, “a what?”
And he proceeds to explain what it means to be a ‘hand talent’ and I’m all ears.
And then I was like…
DUUUDE… OMG, yes! YES!!!
And best part of it all, my hands (or rather my right hand) got to play a gold-digging hand… Light years away from my usual casting type. And frankly this was far more interesting than the part I originally was there to audition for.
Not to be an ungrateful twat, but the typecasting thing gets old… Really fast. You’d be surprised at how fast it takes you to get pigeon-holed, I think it happened to me by the end of the second quarter/first semester (my auditions stats don’t look so good). Like, I swear the next time I get audition for that type I’m going to thud and “zzz” at the waiting room at the casting office. I’m not even going to tell what I’ve been typecast as on here ever because I don’t want to give people any ideas.
So they start taking pictures of my hands and arms and they literally told me not to wipe the nail polish off or clip my nails. I still had my purple nail polish of sex on, which was part of my Halloween costume:
So weird that I, of all people, would be hand acting. I am an avid nail-biter and I have dermatillomania (just an fancy medical term for enthusiasm for cuticle-picking, really). My hands aren’t exactly the ‘elegant’ type. In fact, I think I’ve missed out on certain roles of people who use mobile phones a lot because my hands aren’t pwetty enough for them HD closeups.
Anyway, I kept asking the production people (during the callback and screentest) whether I should repaint or tidy-up the nail polish, and they kept saying “no”, adding that no matter how badly my nail polish chips off, I should keep the nail polish untouched. And that under no circumstances should I clip my nails.
And so I didn’t clip my nails. And it was HELL-ish for me, because I can’t stand having my nails longer than 1 millimeter, normally. Like that’s my limit. Once it gets any longer than 1.5 millimeters, I just get restless and it feels… Not ‘icky’… Just weird and bothersome. And it ‘irks’ you somehow, then drives you a little cray-cray. Like you know how certain wallpaper patterns just rub you the wrong way, and they start moving in your imagination and it makes you just want to rip it off the wall? Or like when you see a musical instrument and something about the way the strings are aligned, or whatever, just makes you want to smash the wretched thing into little pieces? It’s like that.
Ugh, and they grew over 1.5 millimeters!
It was a 7-day old paint job. I painted my nails on October 28, by the time we filmed it on a Monday, it was a week old.
It didn’t make sense to me at first–why would they prefer to keep my nails messy? But then I eventually figured that they wanted to be able to show the original colours (which they liked) to the makeup people so they could replicate that exact same thing, but neater. Because my application sucks because I don’t have the steady hands of a professional makeup artist. It was the only logical explanation, so I decided to bring the nail polish I used for my Halloween costume. Because I figured it would make everyone’s life easier.
The nail polish I used over a base coat were: a layer of Essie in “Recessionista” which is a wine colour, warm-toned, matte in colour–glossy in surface texture. Then on top of that, a layer of OPI Bond Girls Collection in “Vesper” (an eggplant, cool-toned, liquid sand). With a clear top coat.
We couldn’t use “Vesper” in the end because liquid sand was just too edgy and inappropriate for a gold-digger’s hand. Well, what can you expect from a nail polish named after only the awesomest Bond girl ever? Ha. Because it was liquid sand, it just didn’t seem right as the character would have liked to look polished. We experimented with using my normal runny OPI RapiDry top coat, then tried Seche Vite (thicker in consistency) but the liquid sand was still too edgy for a gold-digger’s hand.
Thankfully, the makeup team had a cool-toned purple (sort of an electric blue-violet, shimmer). Well, duh (the makeup team’s stuff was awesome, by the way–I just wanted to look at everything: they even had a fancy spray to make nail polish dry faster, polish corrector markers, and sharp q-tips! I waaant…). So we used that under my wine-coloured nail polish.
There are all these oddly-shaped ‘things’ at film sets and they’re not like makeshift stuff, they’re specially manufactured for film and television productions and I wonder what kind of companies make them and what the market for that kind of thing’s like.
It’s for a company called Traveloka. I’ve personally never used it before, just because I haven’t had the opportunity to travel between the time the site launched and now. But I’ll probably try it out when I need to (because it seems to take Indonesian internet banking payments, which Kayak unfortunately doesn’t).
Yeah, my hand was totally feeling it. Totally ‘menjiwai’, y’all… Totally. Then it reminded me of that part where Holmes and Watson snuck through Milverton’s greenhouse. Not sure why. It must be the sneaking around… Though, to be more accurate, I’d prefer to liken my right hand to Daniel Day-Lewis’ left foot.
And Down the Rabbit Hole She Goes…
Anyway, my current fascination is this thing called ‘continuity’. Like, they literally hire a dude, an entire dude, to ensure that everything looks the exact same way every time we retake (including options). So basically this dude goes around carrying a digital camera and takes pictures of the mess I made. Every time we have another take or shoot a different option, he puts everything exactly where it was before and I mess it up again. *Uwek-uwek-uwek* Repeat.
I can’t believe I actually do this for a living! Like it’s my legal, professional obligation to mess things up and then this guy puts everything back in the exact spots… Only to have me mess it up again. How absurd.
Like, I swear to God, this industry. Sometimes it feels like I’ve fallen into a rabbit hole.
Also, the wardrobe people are always on stand-by to make sure the clothes look the same every time as well. I don’t have a photographic memory, but by the time we were done with that scene, it felt like I did: I remember exactly how the actress’ sleeve was pulled, down to the wrinkles, and the angle of her head.
Excuse me for being such a dork about it. I know this is all fairly obvious to most actors, but my first role didn’t involve that many props, so continuity wasn’t a big deal. So this is all a novelty to me. It’s only my second role, so everything is still very interesting and exciting (only the typecasting has gotten boring).
Indeed it reminded me of Milverton and Appledore because the house we filmed in was awesome. Maybe not as epic as Appledore, but awesome nonetheless. While I was waiting for my turn, and not responding to work-related and UN YPP emails, I wandered around. And at one point, I needed to use the little girls’ room but the talents’ toilet was occupied so I explored the house only to find this super epic bathroom:
And then it reminded me of Driss from “The Intouchables“. LOL.
I was supposed to do a voice-over thingy on Friday too, but then I think they decided to keep my hand silent/not to use my squeaky voice, or something, and that got cancelled–which is cool because I got sick the day we were supposed to record anyway.
But how awesome was it that I got to play Sadako hands in my Halloween costume? Best. Halloween. Ever.
So, ja… My first ‘Fascinating First’ blog post. I hope it was sufficiently fascinating. I figured I’d share this experience because it’s something that most actors, even those who’ve been doing this all their lives, will probably never get an opportunity to do. And, yes, hand acting is actually a thing.