A film crew of 50, Kim Knuckey and Rachel Griffiths at our studio
A room next to The Writing Business Studio was involved in filming the NBC-commissioned ‘dramedy’ Camp last week. Rachel Griffiths was there to do scenes as the camp owner meeting a bank manager played by Kim Knuckey. The set took three days to prepare and passers-by thought it was a real office not spotting the US flags.
Matchbox Productions had photographed, measured and viewed the location several times. The location manager identifies up to 10 potential sites presenting ony two or three to the production heads. They had already searched the eastern seaboard of Australia before choosing this area, Murwillumbah.
I mentor teen writers late on Fridays and warned this week’s student that things would be far from normal. He arrived early to a tranquil set and we edited line-by-line the new chapter of his trilogy. We work to a colour-coded mind map on butcher’s paper.
The crew started to pour in carrying lights, black sheets, boxes of kit into the studio. A big camera was placed in the centre of the room. Crew members introduced themselves on arrival, courteous at the frontline of a (pre-arranged) invasion. We moved furniture and soon every space in the rooms and corridors was packed with the paraphernalia and people of filmmaking.
It was unspeakably, unseasonally and stinkingly hot. Unhelpfully the air-conditioning unit had expired the day before.
Glass panels were concealed by black sheeting wedged with poles and were later taken down to allow light through the glass for takes from different angles. A Rachel Griffiths double sat in the star’s place on set as camera angles were lined up. Then Rachel Griffiths sat at the desk across from Kim Knuckey. Several rehearsals were run. As directed we were silent. In no time I knew the lines too but my untrained ear could discern little or no difference between takes. It’s the same as a reader not realising the dozens of big and small adjustments that a writer makes to every sentence.
The director quietly gave instructions and at one point Rachel Griffiths called out to everyone to quieten to listen to a crew member’s idea.
I said hello to Rachel and there was a quick handshake. I’d thought about asking for a photograph having been a big fan of Muriel’s Wedding, my hometown movie, and recalling the director P.J. Hogan from school days. I loved ‘Six Feet Under’ and watched it no matter how late the hour that networks in the UK and Australia pushed it back eventually resorting to DVD. Hilary and Jackie is still on my ‘to watch list’. And I followed Brothers And Sisters. Several friends are huge fans of Rachel Griffiths in all of those shows and I’d have loved a photo to share with them.
But I didn’t ask for a pic. I’ve never had a paparazzi mindset and the actors and crew were focusing on their clocks and their craft, and photography during a film shoot is not a big hit with directors so I’ve just these few phone shots.
I’ve met, and interviewed VIPs in business and show business, and never worried about snaps. For many years I enjoyed the luxury of working with photographers.
So what’s Rachel Griffiths like? She’s very slim and not quite as tall as I expected, and she’s very impressive to watch at her craft. What does she think of this role I wonder? Well I imagine she thinks it’s work and probably no different to how any of us feels about the job at hand.
Now, apart from fresh green walls and vacuumed carpet in the next room, and until Camp hits the TV screens, it’s like filming never happened, except for one thing. It was greatly inspiring to have an influx of people who work hard and care about that work and craft and about doing it well, the same way I care – non-famous people with whom you could get along famously.
Please get in touch for your writing needs whether you are famous or not.