This song rules so much. I love it.
We just wrapped “Harold and Kumar 3,” marking the end of my first experience acting in a film.
In fact, before we started shooting, I had never even been on a movie set. To me, the entire shoot was a crash course in movie making.
Here’s what I learned:
-I learned that acting is difficult, and the audience is unforgiving when it comes to excuses. Nobody cares that you only got two or three takes to say a specific line, or that you’re talking to a piece of tape on a camera, and not a human. They just expect you to be good, and in my case, they expect you to be funny — which is often a difficult task.
- I learned that while it’s difficult being on the cast, it’s probably more difficult being on the crew. On our movie, over a hundred extremely hard-working people were constantly busy moving lights, building sets, cooking food, running cables, balancing budgets, running errands and a thousand other things I probably don’t even know about. They arrive on set before the actors arrive and leave after the actors leave. And they don’t get any days off like the actors do — I was probably there for only half of the nine week shoot. It takes crews of hundreds of people working twelve hour days for several months just to make a two hour movie! That type of man-power and money could probably build a really tall building — though, to be fair, it’s probably difficult convincing millions of people to pay $12 to see a building (or $17 to see it in 3D!)
- I learned exactly what movie producers do, and why I could never be one. Coming up with a shooting schedule that fits various actor, location, and budgetary constraints is like putting together a two million piece puzzle– and receiving no credit for it. Name a famous movie producer. You can’t! Okay, fine, Harvey Weinstein, but you get my point. As difficult as it sounds to make a movie, being a part of the few people to finance, drive, and/or organize the effort seems nearly impossible. I met some of the producers of Harold and Kumar 3 but I bet there were several more that I have never (and will never) meet.
- I learned that actors have down time. A lot of down time. There were days that I was on set for 14 hours and shot for 30 minutes. Basically, I spent more time in a trailer near Detroit than Eminem. I was taught a very valuable lesson early on by another actor/writer, which was to treat downtime as an opportunity. Pick a hobby or a sideproject to work on, so that you look forward to those six-eight hour breaks. I tried to do that, but instead often just wandered around set talking to people and asking them mundane questions like “Does any actor have such perfect skin that you don’t need to put make up on them?” and “What was the wrap party for THE HURT LOCKER like?” (the answer to both is Cecil B. Demille.)
- I learned that you can be a “movie star” without being a “giant asshole.” The cast of this movie is extremely eclectic and talented, so I got to act/talk to a lot of popular, successful, prolific, attractive people, and everybody was so friendly — not only to me, but to the crew. I was kind of annoyed because I’ve been pretty eager to become a huge prick once I got a few more movies under my belt. However these other guys have been in hundreds of movies, and were extraordinarily kind and funny to everybody. It’s really starting to look like I’ll never be able to berate an intern for fucking up a lunch order. Speaking of which…
- I learned that it’s extremely easy to get fat on set. The only thing stopping me from eating a sandwich right now is the fact that I can’t have any sandwich I want for free at a moment’s notice. On set, you can eat whatever you want, all day, for no money. And that’s in between delicious catered meals. Do you have any idea how much cereal and fruit and turkey jerky and bagels and yogurt and donuts and potato chips and snacks you can eat when the only limit is will power and available room in your stomach? It’s a lot. There’s a reason actors get fatter when they get old. You’d get fatter too if the only thing keeping you from sucking down a cookies n’ cream milkshake right now is the shame of asking for it. Because that shame goes away right quick.
- I learned that Michigan is awesome. I was only able to see a small fraction of one percent of that great state but it was enough to inspire a return visit, perhaps to the UP. That’s right. I know acronyms about Michigan. It stands for the Upper Peninsula. Not a big deal.
- I learned that I really want to write a major motion picture. As fun as it was being an actor, I’d really love to sit on a big set one day, and see hundreds of talented people working tirelessly on something that came out of my brain. Best part of all: I could just turn around and ask for a turkey burger with avocado and they’d have to give it to me. WITH fries.