I was back at SVA (School of Visual Arts) tonight, this time for a “class shoot,” working on a short film script called Cop Vacation. I got a call last night around 7, asking it I was available to come in tonight for the class. I confirmed that I was available, and around 9:30, I received the script over e-mail.
It’s a funny little comedy about two cops, one a detective and the other a captain, trying to work the system to get forced vacation. I was playing the detective, trying to convince the captain that I had caused so much controversy in the department that they must be giving me “mandatory vacation so I can cool my heels.” The captain, who was played by John G. Gallagher–and actor I recognized from TV–plays along, letting me know what a great detective I am, and how they couldn’t possible lose me until I finished the case. In the end, when I tell him it should all be wrapped up next week with a major takedown of the D.A. and police commissioner, he says “great, I’ll still be in Hawaii at that point.” He then stands up, revealing the below his jacket, shirt, and tie, he is wearing Bermuda shorts. Turns out he outsmarted me, and convinced the “uppity ups” that he, himself, was the hothead in need of some time away from the office, and was on his way to the airport. As he leaves, I sit there, dejected, and phone my girlfriend to tell her our vacation plans are off.
It was a great script and really fun to work in class. It was a class for first year students, taught my Sal Petrosino, with a woman named Martha as the guest lecturer. What I love about these projects is the free education I get from these superstar instructors who are actively working in the field, and it’s great to know what the next generation of filmmakers are being taught. I was there an hour early, so I was able to sit in and take notes–probably more than some of the students–while Martha was teaching them about the role of a script supervisor, something I knew nothing about! Not only am I learning a ton, but it really makes me appreciate everything that goes into the production aspect of a film. I understand how theatre works, and could tell you what most of the major players do on the production team, but film and television is still a foreign language to me.
It also keeps me on my toes as far as acting and memorizing! In theatre, we have the luxury of rehearsing and rehearsing until it’s “go time” and the audience is there. In film, for the most part, you look at your script and go. I had the script right before I was heading home to bed, and after working a few hours at the Equity office today, I had just enough time to grab a coffee and cram these lines so that I could have the script memorized and ready to shoot, and with an actor I had never met. John and I were able to shake hands, chat for a couple minutes, and after one run through, it was time to start rolling!
This was my third time at SVA and hopefully the work will keep coming. The students there are great, the faculty members are incredible, and the education I get, along with the acting experiences, have been stellar! And you never know, one of these quiet, start-of-their-career students, learning for the first time how to really make a movie, could turn out to be the next Scorsese!