Thursday, February 23, 2012

It's Magic!

Shell Beach, February 2012

Yes, I did do some (minimal, but satisfying) training since my last post; and no, I am not ready yet to sign up even for a short 200k. But at least, I feel healthy again. It appears that my repeated and extended stays in Shell Beach do a lot of good to me.

So, why don't I get in more bike rides, then?

Well, you see, this time I was being called upon to act in a movie (and otherwise help with the production in various ways); and that took so much time and energy, there was none left for bike riding!

Let me explain.

My daughter Fabienne has been mentioned several times in this blog already, alone or with her sister Valerie (check out this or this). Given that it's considered very bad taste (where I come from) to brag about one's children, I won't. It's just a fact that they happen to be talented in some areas, with Fabienne being a good bit more show-offing than the others and more determined to pursue a rather artistic life. Her list of "professions" includes (in no particular order) violinist, dancer, actress, writer, graphic artist and singer, which makes it hard for her to select a specific career. Consequently, the parents were hardly surprised when they learned that she and friends had decided to make a movie (a short film of about 15 minutes) to be entered in competitions. They were only surprised when they learned that they would be somehow involved in the project ...

Fabienne wrote in short order a script (after all, she is also a UCLA graduate in English and Film) with working title "It's Magic!" She knew or found all the many expert friends and connections it takes to make a (low budget) movie, and after an initial location scouting trip with director and camera, brought the whole crew of well over twenty competent and passionate movie makers in various denominations to - Shell Beach!

Before coming to Shell Beach, Fabienne and Nayda spent several days casting to find the best fit for the various as yet unassigned roles - a long story in itself, way too long for this blog! In the end, it all worked out, except for the role of a "sweet, french-speaking grandpa." The auditioning candidates all looked too much like criminals. Now what? - Yes, you guessed right. Fabienne promoted me from retiree to actor, and director Nayda approved. According to the script, I was still at least five years too young, so I didn't shave until after the shooting. I don't think it made me look older; rather, it made me look more like a criminal. But I didn't have anything to say, other than my lines; and that's what I did.

I know that for people like Fabienne (and many others, I'm being told) it's a dream to be in front of a camera, acting as if it were. I am a little sorry to say that there is no future for me in this line of work. The required enthusiasm and passion just isn't there (it's elsewhere, for me!). But the whole experience of accompanying, watching, assisting the big crew for several days in a row, meeting and getting to know all those brilliant, creative, talented, passionate, generous present or future professionals was priceless. I felt motivated myself (regardless of my missing predestination for acting or the whole movie business), and I was finally able to understand Fabienne's favorite environment much better.

It may sound shocking to them, and they may not quite get the "compliment", but I did find parallels to what I for myself appreciate in randonneuring. Those movie people think nothing of getting up at ungodly hours to set out for a long day of indulging in their passion and they think nothing of staying up late at night and keep going until the same ungodly hours. They put up with unfavorable conditions (to put it mildly) smiling, and they don't mind eating a cold lunch at 5 p.m. (with nothing since breakfast, because there was too much pressure to get the job done in time) on the sidewalk in front of the theatre, barely protected from the battling rain:

They feel a connectedness with their likeminded just as the randonneurs do during a brevet, and they demonstrate and live camaraderie at its finest. In other words: I liked it!

When, in addition, the situation called for carrying rather heavy equipment (they have use for lots of heavy-duty sandbags and weight-lifting accessories to weigh down the tripods and camera cranes and jibs) up and down some serious stairs:

to set up the shooting of Fabienne's dancing on the beach (see third picture from the top), the randonneur apprentice was more than happy to oblige and even do some extra up-and-downs, faster than necessary, just for the heck of it. The DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) in the legs two days later was a sweet recompense.

But he still would rather be back on his bicycle.

Photo credits: Some of the above pictures are from set photographer Nick Altamirano.