Well, that’s not entirely true. I was starstruck once a long time ago when I worked in the motion picture industry. It was my first job and I was working in the production office as an assistant. Alan Alda breezed through our tiny office with a group of location scouts. They were touring the office spaces for a film he was producing. When I saw him, my breath caught in my throat and my cheeks burned. He was not only a star, he was an icon by then. No one else in my entire life has ever rendered me completely speechless the way his presence did that morning. That’s what being starstruck feels like.
Working in that fickle and demanding industry taught me a few things about life and about myself.
One morning the production coordinator, Alecia LaRue, asked me to copy sides for the shooting crew that afternoon. Sides are copies of the script that will be shot that day. I was to copy a certain part of the script, six sets, one for each person, and I was to reduce the size of the copied portion to a smaller page that can be held easily with one hand. I thought this was going to be a simple task, but I ended up being sent back to the copier to repeat the task over and over again because I just could not get it right. How in the world did I keep misunderstanding what she was asking me to do?! I can see her disappointed face and I can hear her soft Texas drawl saying,“Oh honey. No, this isn’t right. Do it this way and let me see it when you finish it.”
I finally did get the job finished correctly, but I had also lost valuable points in the respect department. The next morning I came to work earlier than usual. I was trying to make up for the flubbed sides debacle. I wanted to have all of the morning tasks completed before anyone came to work. I wanted them to smile and think I was awesome again and not the fuck up that couldn’t get the sides right.
Puttering around the office looking for things to do after I finished making the coffee and setting out the craft service, I saw a note from Alecia to my colleague. It was perched on her typewriter and kind of hard to miss. I am betting now that Alecia wasn’t expecting me to be the first one in the office that morning because she was not a cruel person and would never have left it out and so visible. It read: “Sandy, Please copy today’s sides and put them in Joe’s Inbox. Copy these pages, front and back. And for god’s sake, whatever you do, DO NOT LET KATY DO THEM!!”
I was devastated. I stood there, wavering between tears and bitter frustration. It was an awful place to waver. I remember going to sit at my desk. All of the fervor and ambition I had when I arrived there that morning just dissipated like a misty fog burned by the sunlight. When everyone else started to arrive that morning I smiled and acted like I knew nothing of the note Alecia had left for Sandy. I went on with my day and told myself that I would continue to try to improve my job performance, no matter what she thought of me now.
On the movies following this one I was once again responsible for making sides. I switched from production to the art department, so now I was only making sides for the Art Director and the Production Designer. After I had a few more films under my belt, I decided to make my mark on those dreaded sides.
Each time they make a script change during pre-production, they print the changes on different colored paper. You end up with a pretty pastel infused script by the time they start filming. I waited until all of the script changes were completed and we were starting to film. I took all of the colored paper changes and the regular white pages for the script to the printer and had them make two miniature scripts, the size of a small paperback novel. They were divine!
The next day John Myhre, the Art Director and Amadeus Capra, the Production Designer, pulled their tiny scripts out of their back pockets when they arrived on set and they turned to the proper page being shot. They drew the attention of almost all of the Above the Line crew, like the Producer, the Director and Executive Producer, on set that day, including some of the cast. Everyone wanted a mini script like theirs!!
That afternoon the production coordinator called me, “Okay Katy, I give up. Where and how did you make those sides?”
If you work in the motion picture industry and you’re lucky enough to get a miniature script of sides, you can thank me. I will definitely take credit for that brainchild because it was born out of my own heartbreak. So Alecia, if you’re reading this, thank you for being disappointed enough to leave that note for Sandy. It propelled me high enough to not only get it right, but to make it something that people were almost starstruck over.