If there was ever a reluctant subject, I was it. At first, my idea for this movie was for me to be never seen, just heard in a few scenes while I asked a question. I wanted the camera to shoot from my point of view. As you may have read in my first blog post about the beginning this was not to be- something about having a story to tell in order for the movie not to bore audiences to death, blah blah blah.
And so I resigned to the fact that I would be sweating all over this movie as we started shooting during humid summer months in Istanbul while the camera guys told me there would be no fans or ACs during the shoots due to interference with the audio recording. What’s a little humiliation for one’s art/research agenda! Our audio technician Görkem nearly went deaf as I used my fan furiously right by my microphone anytime someone yelled cut for a 10 second reprieve from the sweat shower I was taking.
Our first day was planned to be a city shoot of me walking around, taking in the sights and doing numerous random things to be used as needed in the movie. It was also to break me in a little so I wouldn’t have too many blunders in front of our participants as I interviewed them. As we walked around the city for over thirteen hours shooting various scenes, I am told to walk this way and that way, look around and ponder things on a notebook while writing gibberish. I am told to act really naturally so I walk up to a spot to gaze at the Bosphorus bridge and I am reminded promptly not to look away from the camera.
That means I would be looking at the trash bin on the side as if I am admiring the city and the bridge but really it is a trash can. Then I am told to not be so static, do something natural; like look around but never in a way to lose sight of the camera. Not a direct profile, but somewhat of a diagonal look. So, look left, but if you look left truly then the camera loses your face, so don’t look too left, but do it naturally. Walk normally, but that is too fast, and this is too slow. Don’t stop, linger a little, don’t look at us, but act normal.
At the end of the night I am feeling slightly clownish and a whole lot of sheepish. It was fun nevertheless with a steep learning curve. I think I somewhat understand what they mean about natural. It is a total re-construction of reality. Act real in a camera savvy way. Do things you normally wouldn’t do as if this is all you do. Be believable, make it happen! I can’t believe I am failing at looking at the damned bridge that takes up 200 degrees of my view. There is a first for everything, apparently.
I got to see so many streets and corners of the city I have never seen before. It was lovely wandering around. It was also fun to be working with others, in a team. Rarely in our profession do we work with others in this manner. We had drinks and food in between shooting and laughed a lot. They argued about which shot to take and how to make it better. They tried to educate me as quickly as possible. Their enthusiasm, patience and love for their craft made me respect them even more. Even after a ten-hour day, they were still arguing about the best location, best shot, one last look. But most importantly, I liked our camera crew because they love eating. They order and eat with gusto, passionately disagreeing about the best place to eat künefe. I think we’ll get along just fine.
I am told the camera adds 10 pounds. I believe the food during shoots might be responsible for a few others- i.e., buy a simit and eat it, have some mussels, let’s get a fish sandwich, we need you tasting something in the shot! You need to take another bite one more time.
Did I say I enjoyed myself? Hey, being a star in a food movie ain’t so bad after all… until you watch yourself on the big screen in high definition that is. Minor setback I say 🙂