By Aislinn De'Ath

By Aislinn De'Ath
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Tuesday, 1 February 2011

The golden glimmery glamour of filmmaking

Reader, I am afraid I shall have to dispel a myth. I know for some it will be difficult to digest. It may be painful, indeed, I almost feel cruel for telling you but I feel it's my duty. The fact of the matter is this.

Filming is not glamorous.

There, I've said it. Breathe. Sorry if I've stomped on your dreams but that's just the way it is. We film actors do not waltz around in furs and diamonds (more like 2nd hand wool jackets that smell a bit and Primark earrings), we don't have our own trailers (that's for the A-list set) and very few of us are truly good looking (no matter what our very shiny and beautiful headshots may lead you to believe).

The reality is this. Film is uncomfortable. It's slightly ratty and damp. It's full of people having strops and locking themselves in cupboards. When you're in the big league this is probably a bit different, I'm sure A-listers lock themselves in their posh Winnebagos instead.

I used to be like you reader! I used to think that as a 'proper' actor I'd whirl in in my mink, dripping with emeralds and a perfect complexion, hair done up in a really Bette Davis sort of way, air kissing the director then popping onto set to do a bit of acting that was so artfully perfect that even the tough sound guy sobbed. Then they'd applaud me and I'd totter off to my trailer to have a massage and sushi before I was needed for the next 5 minute shoot. Maybe Vogue would pop in to take some pics and interview me in the meantime, and I'd talk about what an honour it was to work for said director whilst smoking through a mother of pearl cigarette holder.

Of course, the funny thing is that it doesn't quite work like that. The reality is thus. You have to get up really really early in the morning to be ready for make up and costume, and you have to avoid anything fun for breakfast in case it bloats you or sticks in your teeth. You sit wearing a bib bored until you're called then it's either hours under very hot lights (with sometimes rather smelly co actors who turn even more ripe under the heat) or if you're exceptionally unlucky, you'll be called to an exterior shot which will inevitably take place in the middle of January when it's dark out and there's snow on the way. Dogs bark at you, joggers stop and gwap (with good reason, because it's the luck of the draw that your costume will be a bikini or a couple of teabags laced together with toothfloss) and the shot will take forever because your co-actor can't quite remember his lines, or the light's not right or it's just a little too windy for sound. Your acting skills will be pushed to the point and you try and fight the goosepimples and blue lips. Then you'll have a break which you'll be initially despo for but by the third hour you'll want to pull your hair out. And you won't be able to smoke. Why? Because smoking ruins your skin and teeth and you'll look awful on screen. By the end of the day your legs will ache, your skin will have broken out in spots thanks to hours of sweat and the smell of enhanced BO will have made you feel all icky. You'll want to curl up in bed, but still you'll have to learn a few pages of lines, so you'll prop your eyes open with toothpicks and work on till your Asda price bulb fails.

The thing is, despite ALL of this...we still do it. Because as much as we complain and grumble and wish we had decided to be accountants instead, acting is the only thing we could ever really feel complete doing. It's not just a career choice, it's a calling. And all the exhaustion, the cold, the sweat and the hiding in cupboards next to an industrial strength carton of floor cleaner is worth it at the end of it all when we get to watch the whole thing, this piece of art that we've somehow made.

Working in film isn't glamorous. It's not dripping with pearls and full of glory, but it's our life, our bread and butter. We do it for free, in awful working conditions at times, because there's nothing quite like it.

Hope I haven't killed your dreams too much folks!


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