Saturday, October 28, 2006

Pinewood Studios Diary 3

Once your fame cherry has been popped, you can never go back.

For me, it was the first time I stood back stage in the dressing room of a comedy club, waiting to go on, only to find the headliner standing in his pants, ironing his trousers on a brown stained creaking ironing board.

The fact that he was bounding onto the stage an hour or so later with a spring in his step to rapturous applause didn't have quite the same glamour anymore. The bubble was popped, for I had seen behind the curtain to a world not of magic and wonder but of mundane and every day concerns.

Performers were not gods. Comedians had the same worries and problems as everyone else. Dressing rooms could be dirty, smelly crowded places, no different in many ways to factory locker rooms. This was just another section of the real world, with a glamorous public face, true, but a disappointingly common place underbelly.

The same was true of the first time I saw my words being performed by others: initial excitement, then irritation that the lines weren't being delivered exactly as I imagined them in my mind, then finally boredom as I saw the same lines being said ten times in a row for the benefit of coverage. The dream had lost it's sheen as it entered the world of work.

But now. To my film.

We are filming at Pinewood and we have been rehearsing at Shepperton. Pop goes that potential glamour bubble. It feels just like two factories, with all the attendant security guards, hanger like spaces and whistling caretakers with walkie talkies.

In offices on the lot, there is a growing team of artisans designing and building sets, scouting locations and planning the shoot. All based around things I made up.

I think it will be a while before that bubble pops.

And rehearsals? Ah, rehearsals. Here I did the opposite of imagining glamour. I imagined frustration, assuming that the director would direct (it is his job description after all) and that I would watch, inert and powerless on the margins, fearful of breaking the bond of trust between him and the actors, fearful of overstepping my own job description.

Instead I have been welcomed in to a wonderland of collaboration, as we all work to make the script and performance of that script as good as it can possibly be. All credit to the director, Gareth Carrivick. Only someone who is supremely confident of their own position and ability could give the actors and myself the liberty which we have enjoyed.

I mentioned to my wife that these days had probably been my best working experience as a writer so far. "Well." she said "Then what you mean is that this has been the best working experience you've ever had."

She's right.

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