Thursday, July 5, 2007

How I spent the 4th (and the entire week).

Happy Belated 4th of July!!

We are FINALLY done with everyone's shoot!! It was a crazy 3 days of crewing, but we all had a lot of fun, and I learned SO much. On Monday morning, Leah and I acted in Mike and Aaron's shoot, which involved a green screen and a massive human pile.

Unfortunately we were all in the pile, so no one was able to snap a photo!

From there, Leah and I headed over to Petrin Hill to assist Emma and Maggie on their film, BLIND DATE. There we met Pavlo the Midget (yes, he really goes by this name). He was SO much fun to work with, and a really talented actor as well. It was great to be outdoors (it rained briefly, but during lunch) for the day. I got to set up and guard (read:nap) in a hammock! I also boomed with Leah. Petrin Hill was filled with dogs, and a bunch of them enjoyed jumping in the fountain near us. Some even stuck around briefly for our shoot.

On Tuesday, Leah and I assisted Chris and Jasmine with their film, SPECIAL DELIVERY. Leah and I had a blast acting as airhead American tourists. Chris and Jasmine's actor, Petr, was perfectly cast as a mysterious Czech man who gives Chris a bouquet of flowers to deliver. Mike and Aaron played the thugs who chase him through Prague in an effort to steal the flowers. In between our takes, Leah and I boomed and flex filled.

Wednesday day was the day of our shoot for our film, VECEROVA POHADKA/DINNER FAIRYTALE. Leah and I wanted to smuggle both of the actors home with us from the moment we met them. They were absolutely PERFECT, and incredible actors. Mike, Jasmine, and Chris were our crew and doubled as actors as well. Mike and Jasmine played tourists with southern accents, and Chris played a tough guy from New Jersey. One of the professors from FAMU starred as the American mother, and her daughter, Clara, played the little girl in the film. She was so adorable, and her mom was such a great actress (she teaches theatre at FAMU-- what luck!). Leah and I were SO grateful for all of their help-- without them, we definitely wouldn't have finished on time!! Leah and I even got to make cameo appearances as (what else?) airhead American tourists. Our stars, Jiri and Ani, were so patient and willing to go wherever we dragged them (we must have had at least 6 locations).

We finished the day with class at the main FAMU campus. We had a special screening of Jiri Barta's THE PIED PIPER-- a brilliant labor of love. You can watch a clip here:

I was actually pretty scared during it! Definitely not a fairytale for children. Barta cleverly depicts greed and avarice without using any dialogue, and has them transform into rats in the final scene. At the end, Jiri Barta was actually there with two of the original puppets!! We all got to take pictures of him with the puppets. From there we headed to the pub at the basement of school and relaxed. We even got to meet Peter's brother who was visiting from London. At the end of the night, Leah and I somehow managed to stay up until 4:30am, which explains my day-long nap today.

It was really bizarre not being in America for the holiday, or being near a beach for that matter! I realized yesterday that all of my 4th of Julys have been spent on the Eastern seaboard, with warm weather. Yesterday it only got up to about 70, but it was pretty chilly to begin with. Regardless, we were SO tied up with our shoot and the rest of our classmates' shoots, that no one really had much time to think about it. But I did have a pretty good American experience during lunchtime. Leah and I were taking a rain break (thundershowers were predicted for the entire day), and we sat near some Fed Ex pilots who had flown in from the States for work. We got to talking to them, and they wanted to hear all about Prague and our program at FAMU, and our film. They shared their stories about shipping live cargo (horses, cows, pandas)... one of them actually got bit by a panda. We discovered that we all shared a love for Car Talk (and I found out that Leah got on the show when she was younger!), and they both had nieces or nephews similar to us (read: perpetual students and work-o-phobes). They were really pleasant to talk to (both from the South... yes, I steered clear of bashing Dubs), and when they left and we went to pay for our bill, we discovered they had actually paid for us. I ran down the street looking for them, but couldn't find them anywhere (if you haven't guessed already from my pictures, Prague is a pretty great for secret alleyways and windy roads). Maybe it was because of the holiday, maybe it was because I was stressed, but their act of kindness really got to me, and I had a pretty good cry after that. I know, I'm a sap. Leave me alone. Regardless, it was a nice way to remember the holiday. Leah and I got apple pie after that :)

Today I had to run over to FAMU studio to drop off our tapes so that they could be transferred to VHS. Not knowing that I had to do this until the very last minute, I literally rolled out of bed in my pajamas and glasses, and headed into the city. On my way back, I was approached by a Czech family at the tram stop. They were asking me for directions in Czech, but once they discovered I was an American, they were pretty excited. The two sisters practiced their English on me, and they did a pretty good job, because I was able to figure out that they needed to go to Strahov Stadium, which is on my running route. I decided to help them get over there, so we all rode the tram together. They were going on holiday in Prague, and staying at one of the hostels by the stadium. The younger sister, Jana, is a violinist/guitarist/pianist. They were all very sweet, and I was suprised when they all wanted to take pictures of us together. I wish I had taken a shower and put on normal clothes beforehand, though I am sure they are used to seeing lazy Americans in sweatshirts and flip flops. We exhanged email addresses and mailing addresses, and I promised to send them a postcard from Boston once I return. It made me really happy to talk to them and get them to their destination. I only wish I knew more Czech!

After my excursion, I took a nap until 6:30pm (I was still wiped out from the big day of shooting). When I woke up, Leah and I went to an incredible vegetarian restaurant called Mala Buddha (Little Buddha). The restaurant is underground and looks like it could have been a dungeon at one time, though it's beautifully decorated now. They keep the entire place lit by candlelight day and night, and the food is AMAZING, and healthy!! We overstuffed ourselves on vegetables and shared some ginger tea. And I finally got to drink some mango juice, which I haven't been able to find since I left the States. We did find room, however, for our not-so-healthy dessert-- fried bananas and pineapple with walnut ice cream. But we deserved it after a successful shoot!

I'm terribly conflicted about leaving this place. I'm a big geo-freak, and I try to muster up pride for wherever I live (Shippan Ave in Stamford still ranks at the top!). Prague has somehow swept into my heart, and I've grown pretty attached, all wacky culture shock aside. I'd love to come back here, but it makes me sad to think I might not get back here, or to Europe, ever, thanks to my ever-increasing student loan debt, and the need to find a job with health insurance (no, they're not screening SICKO here yet, and yes, I am going to go see it the day I get home from Prague). I really wish I could return in the future to study at FAMU longer. I found out that one of the grad students there is from the States-- she's attending FAMU as a Fulbright scholar, studying documentary filmmaking. I might actually look into the program and see what it entails. Mom, don't panic! :)

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