Over the weekend, I spent approximately 35-40 hours shooting _Moving Day_ with an absolutely amazing cast and crew. I had met Louis and Samuel (writers and directors) when Kevin Machate recruited me to help shoot our “Chiphuahua” Doritos commercial for a contest. It was a fun shoot and I thought the commercial was great.
So when they approached me to audition for Moving Day, I jumped at the chance. I thought the script and characters were great and that it would be a fun shoot and a great film. After my audition via Google Hangout (I’m Austin based and this film would be Dallas based), they asked if I had a preference between the parts of Pete and Adam. I loved them both and thought either would be great, but in the end I leaned toward Pete. I felt Pete was a bit more of a challenge for me personally and something I hadn’t done as much of, and, quite frankly, there were elements of the part that made me a little nervous and scared. I would have happily played either part, but I figured that was a good reason to go for Pete to try and grow a little more in a direction I was not as comfortable with and a little further from the types of parts I sometimes tend to get pigeon-holed with. I was ecstatic when they decided to bring in one of my best friends in the world, Brian Villalobos, to play Adam. He is like a brother to me and I love any time we get to play together.
The shoot was one of the very magical experiences that come along all too rarely. My cast mates (Brian, Rachel Crothers, Edie Davis, and Christopher Cassarino) were all amazingly talented and more than that, they were all wonderful, hilarious people who I immediately loved. The crew were equally talented and amazing and it was one big, happy awesome film family. I loved getting to hang out with these people all day and I’ve rarely laughed as hard and had so many good conversations between takes. Everyone was so creative and it was almost like a big 3 day improvisational play session off camera. I can’t count the number of jokes, ideas and running gags we accrued along the way.
However, in additional to a plethora of laughs (yes, a plethora, El Guapo) It was also very emotional, both due to the story and having to go to certain emotional places and certain things in my own life weighing on my mind as well. My friend, O’Ryan Landa posted this quote, “It’s not who you are that holds you back, it’s who you think you’re not,” and it really resonated with me. For many different reasons, this summed up what is probably the overarching biggest struggle for me in many different ways. By the end of this shoot, I had been through a whole range of emotions.
On the second day of shooting, there was a tense fight scene involving Christopher Cassarino and I. We had done a few takes already and refined some of the choreography. When the time came, I lunged at him, and he slammed me into the wall. There was a distinctly bad crunching sound and I felt the wall give way behind me. Chris and I, finished out the scene with him punching me to the floor. The cameras cut and I looked to see the lovely hole in the wall, perfectly fitted to my shoulder. Everyone was fine, however, except the wall.
That night, it came time to shoot the most emotionally intense scene of the film with Rachel and I. She was amazing and made it so very easy to do. It was exhausting but beautiful all at the same time. Unfortunately, we realized toward the end of the night, that due a particular problem (that was no one’s fault, these things just happen in film), we would have to re-shoot it all again the next night. At first it was definitely something that kind of knocks the wind out of you. This was the moment that I knew would be the most difficult for me and was nervous about, hoping that I would be able to bring it to life and I felt like Rachel and I had really done a great scene, and we would have to do it all again Sunday night. After the initial shock however, I thought about it and decided I would choose not to to see this as a negative thing. I love what I do, and I love what we’d done and this just meant I would get to do it again, and recreate this beautiful, emotional moment.
We filmed all day Sunday, relishing this last day together as a film family. I think that it was quite appropriate that we ended up re-shooting our emotional scene as the last shots of the entire shoot. Brian graciously agreed to stick around longer than he had to so we could shoot the most most difficult stuff for me last (and the last shot of the film) when we could have shot it earlier to get him out quicker. This is kind of generosity that permeates Brian’s being and really helped me, a lot.
Louis had sent me a playlist of music that he felt represented the emotional arc between Pete and Carrie and as a musician, music is one the most powerful tools for me. It really helped me with the emotions and to build a history between these two. When it had come time to actually shoot though, I had made a quick playlist of my own of songs that I knew could put me where I needed to be. As we prepared for the re-shoot, Rachel asked if she could hear some of my playlist, so we stood outside on a beautiful, cool night under a nice moon, sharing my earbuds for a few minutes to get ready for Pete and Carrie’s last moments on film. Then we went inside and, in my opinion, did an even better scene than we had the night before, so everything happened just as it should have.
Rachel very generously offered to stay for my last scene if I needed her there and at first I said that would be great, but then after thinking about it, I realized that not having her there might be better for what I had to do for my last scene. Brian and I finished out the shoot with the last scene of the film, and the last scene of the shoot. That was a wrap. There were hugs all around and the sound man, Chase, told me that he had never teared up before during a shoot, much less during a no dialogue scene that he was only listening to with his eyes closed (the scene with Rachel and I). We all said our goodbyes, and as always happens in film, the family dispersed into the night, and on with our lives. Thus is the nature of the beast. I was exhausted, my ankles had been bitten up by some unseen parasite, there were many various bruises across my body from various sources, I was emotionally spent and still had to make the 3 hour drive back home. And I loved it all. Except maybe the drive but even that was fine because I was doing what I loved and created something that I can hopefully be proud of if I can get past my own discomfort and self-criticism.
I got home around 4 a.m., took a shower and emailed that I would not be into work the next day. I only got 5 hours of sleep before my brain insisted on getting me up. I feel like I have an emotional hangover. My heart is a bit heavy, I suspect partially from my own life and partly from character residue. The plan is to convalesce on the couch, nap, watch TV, play Xbox, recover and process things. And maybe get some pancakes. Goodbye, Pete. It was fun Quantum Leaping into your life. Oh, boy.