Monday, December 22, 2008

DAY TWO – “An Annotated History of Penny de Precious,” or “Corporal Cretin Speaks!”

Today is our first full day of shooting, and the first day we have a substantial number of cast members on set. Most manage to find the place okay; in fact, Bill Sewak (a.k.a. General Adams) is already sitting in the green room waiting for us when we enter the building promptly at 10 am. Nayli (a.k.a. Penny Precious) was not so lucky. Earlier in the week she had assured Jeff that her trusty GPS would guide her to the studio with no trouble. So this morning on our way to the set, Jeff gets a call from a very lost Nayli. "How are you?" he asks. "Prettty baaad," she intones. The GPS was not living up to its hype. Later in the day, when we are shooting a scene in Jack's car with Penny behind the wheel, Jeff is tempted to make a GPS joke. He thinks better of it upon learning that Nayli is an orange belt in karate.

Nayli has written up a rather entertaining backstory for her character Penny. She reads some of it to me from the make-up chair while Midian and Rachael work on her fabulous '40s hairdo. Here's an excerpt:

"Penny Precious was born in Yucatan, Mexico, the third of four children of pilot Antonio Precious and Maria Conception Garcia de Precious. She was a solitary and independent child, and a tomboy. She was close with her father, but had a difficult relationship with her mother.

"Penny completed her secondary education at Dr. Valentin Gomez Farias High School in Oregon. She is said to have discovered Dr. Jack Cranston's book "The Inter-Dimensional World" in the high school's library and to have been inspired by it. Her mother resisted the idea of higher education for her daughters, believeing that it would make them unmarriageable."

Even Jeff had no idea that Professor Jack had written the afore-mentioned book. Let's see, if it had been published while Penny was just in high school, then the professor would had to have written it when he was only nineteen years old. I suppose that's not too unreasonable. After all, I wrote a book about inter-dimensional worlds when I was only nine. It was written in crayon, and I am sad to report that the prospects of publication remain bleak.

Today also sees the debut of Corporal Cretin, as played by our second cameraman, Aaron Bernard. Aaron got the job after I steadfastly refused it. The description of Cretin in the script is that of "an oafish looking fool of a man holding a stick of dynamite." And as much as I appreciate Jeff's faith in my ability to portray such a person (hmmm!), I did not relish the prospect of having my first-ever acting credit be listed as one "Corporal Cretin." Jeff even offered to promote him to Colonel Cretin as a consolation, but I just wasn't having it. Luckily Aaron, a seasoned comedic actor, was willing to assume the role. Although I later found out that Jeff had conveniently forgotten to mention the character's name when offering him the part. So when I saw Aaron at our production meeting and remarked that he'd be playing Cretin, he gave me a bemused stare and replied, "Oh, that's his name?"

After shooting the big Cretin scene, we work through a number of the vehicle sequences. Since all of the vehicles will be built digitally around the characters in post-production, the actors have little more than car seats, green boxes and their imaginations to use when driving their cars and piloting their planes. And for his scenes in the cockpit of the biplane as Flyboy, Andy Blood (yes that's his real name) gets a little help from prop guru Chuckie, who uses monofilament wire to flap his scarf around as if it's blowing in the wind. Intensely pretending to be locked in a fierce dogfight while not actually moving, Andy looks a little like Snoopy in pursuit of the Red Baron.

That is hardly to say that Andy is a "dog" by any degree. In fact, Nayli is already campaigning for a subplot in the sequel in which Penny has an illicit affair with Flyboy!

1. Nayli as Penny in the car, happy there is no GPS in 1947
2. Aaron Bernard behind the camera...
3. ... and as his alter-ego, Corporal Cretin
4. The "vehicles" of the movie: green biplane cockpit and car seats
5. Andy Blood a.k.a. Flyboy gets his scarf tugged by Chuckie


Nayli said...
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Nayli said...

I can not stop laughing!!!
Great blog!
btw, I HATE MY GPS!!!!!