Welcome to my first Film Fridays series! Every Friday I will share experiences of working as an actor in the film industry. My first professional job was in 2001 at The Great Wall of China.
When I was 12 years old, my sister @katharinebiddle
and I were the first Western exchange students at Huijia Private School on the outskirts of Beijing, China. Our mom was volunteering as an English teacher, and my sister and I were in intensive Chinese (Mandarin) classes. In the teachers’ lounge, our mom heard of a television show seeking foreign actors. Katharine and I asked to be submitted for the project. Mom mailed our photos (we didn’t have headshots) to the film studio, and we got booked.
When we arrived at 5am, a part of The Great Wall was cordoned off and huge cranes were in place on either side - for the first time I saw trailers, craft services, and show runners. There were seven foreign actors in total, and most of our day was waiting in a historic courtyard to be called to set (most of a film actor’s day is spent in holding). The director and crew did not speak English, and thankfully Katharine and I knew enough Mandarin to translate for our fellow actors. We repeated the same Chinese dialogue multiple times, then went back to holding while crew “turned the cameras around” (changed angles), and then we came back to set and did the same thing again. I learned a lot from my first day on a professional film set: don’t look at the cameras (even though this is tempting when the cameras move around); be as natural as possible; always have something on your mind so that your eyes don’t glaze over; wear face powder to prevent shininess.
Two months later, I saw myself on television for the first time - sitting in a Beijing apartment watching a Chinese television show. What amazed me was that even though we had a 16-hour day on set, the tv footage totalled only 8 minutes. In 2017, my mom and I went back to where the television show was filmed. Someday I hope to track down the footage of a great first day on set. #china #greatwallofchina #chinesetelevision #sagaftra #unionstrong #newyorker #actor
#onset #actorslife #setlife #womeninfilm #filmfriday #filmfridays