Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : August 1st 2014 Contents 6 Friday, August 1, 2014 • Issue 151
So, unless you were living under a rock, you know
that a month ago Trinidad and Tobago was the site of
a major film shoot for the movie "Grown Girls Get-
away" starring Garcelle Beauvis, Malinda Williams,
Essence Atkins, Terri J. Vaughn and directed by Roger
M. Bobb, former Executive VP of Tyler Perry Studios
and now President/CEO of his own film company, Bob-
cat Films. When I got called to work as a stand in for
the actresses, my first thought after googling what a
stand-in was, was to see how giving three weeks of
my life to this project could benefit me.
Thanks to Google, I learnt that a stand-in is a person
who literally stands in for an actor to help the camera de-
partment light the set and focus the camera. Not as
glamorous as I would have wanted, but when I read that
the job brought you in close constant contact to the ac-
tresses, DP, director, technical crew and their conversa-
tions, I realised I could gain a lot of otherwise expensive
film-set education for free. What I didn't expect was all
the valuable knowledge and advice I got not to mention
the observations I made that could benefit me as a per-
former living in Trinidad and Tobago. Although not all the
points will be new to you, many of them we tend to for-
get easily. But for me they sunk even deeper when wit-
nessed in a practical way and on an international level.
1. Keep Loving The Crew
This should go without saying but let's be honest
many of us work on a rank system, with main focus
given to the upper tier of the cast/crew hierarchy. It was-
n't easy being around the same people, working almost
nonstop 15 plus hours a day. It's enough to make anyone
get at least a bit irritable but I realised that the actresses
remained pleasant to everyone (and I mean everyone).
The most common phrases out their mouths was
"Thank You" and they always had a pleasant word or
smile for those around. Even the US crew leaders would
take time to thank crewmembers for good work. Re-
member, keeping the crew happy and motivated is key
to you being kept happy.
2. Be a Jack of All Trades
"I know everyone's job", Roger M. Bobb said to me on
our third day at Maracas before jumping to help crew
members steady a tent. It's critical to know more than
what your portfolio says you should. Most of the US
crew I spoke to started in positions very different to
those the filled during this film. Don't just be an actress,
gaffer, light tech, AD, director etc - have at least an idea
of how to function in other aspects of the craft. A more
expansive portfolio will increase your value to any pro-
duction and could save you money/time on your own
projects (being able to tell when a team is not doing a job
properly or get things done when people are late or ab-
sent). Lastly, let's be honest, in this local industry it's
near impossible to make a full time living as just one
thing - especially if you're a performer. I can personally
say I am only able to work exclusively in the arts because
I do various jobs in various areas - stage management,
wardrobe, lighting, set design, stand in, drama in educa-
tion practitioner, acting coach, journalist, director and
most recently, make-up artist.
3. Be where the action is
So you get to your location, look for people you know
to hang with or go to your stipulated holding bay. You do
your job and between time you go off to lime or relax.
The smarter thing to do is stay around where the action
is. This doesn't mean ask a million questions but you can
learn so much (for free) by observing people and tech-
niques that you wouldn't learn liming with those people
you see every weekend or at every show anyway. In two
weeks, I have learnt more about cameras, lights and shot
angles than I have in my life. Also, by showing interest
(and maybe helping out in another area during down-
time) you could make great links and maybe secure fu-
ture side gigs as an assistant or intern.
No one wants a crappy team so assume everyone
hired to be part of your project is talented in their own
right. If you were chosen, it stands to reason that they
were too and thus have something to offer, regardless of
their position in the hierarchy so build as many links as
you can. You don't want to badger people but it makes
no sense being exposed to persons in your field and hav-
ing nothing to show when the job is over. Exchange num-
bers, emails, make friends, mention your other talents
(don't brag), be prepared to show off your talents if
asked, show genuine interest in what other people are
sharing with you. Make unforgettable genuine impres-
5. Manage your time
The more hectic your schedule is, the more necessary
it becomes to manage said schedule. When your current
project and it's associated paycheck ends, you will be
very upset you didn't find the time to reschedule that
meeting with that client or finish that article for that
magazine you have been dying to work with. This means
you can't lag on your other commitments. Your smart-
phone is more than a social media connect. There are
amazing apps that keep your business life in tact so use
TIP: iPhone users, remember that mail from the same
address stores in bulk so ensure you open all messages.
6. It's just a...
Another piece of Roger Bobb advice. I will forever be
grateful for him allowing me to pick his brain down to the
last shot. How did I get so lucky? Refer to #3. He related
a story to me about the great director Woody Allen who
he worked with early in his career and from whom he
learnt one of the greatest lessons. Allen, being a huge
fan of basketball and the Knicks, would stop shooting
early any day this team had a big game. "We knew a
Knicks game meant the evening off," he said. The lesson I
learnt? Although it will be a major priority, never get so
passionate about the job that you lose sight of yourself
or put it above the human element.
7. There is no time to waste time
Stormy day in Maracas? No problem! We will go over
sides and plan the next few shots. Some lights malfunc-
tioned? Ok. Let's use the lights we have and do close ups
until the technician arrives or go shoot some scenery
while actors go over sides. GGGetaway wasn't without
hiccups but what it did lack was wasted time on set.
With the quiet intensity of Bobb, a high energy technical
team like the US contingent and the likes of Steven Tay-
lor, Karla Gonzales and Sekou Charles repping T&T, we
definitely kept it pumping
How often do we feel like there is never enough time
to do everything that needs to be done to get that show
Then shouldn't a halt in one aspect of production not
cause a halt but simply open a window of opportunity to
do some other thing you didn't think there was time to
There is no time to waste time, especially when work-
ing with a budget as we often have to.
For my last three, I asked the ladies their advice for
persons who wished to enter the industry. This is what
they had to say.
• Garcelle Beauvis - "Persevere. You have to persevere.
You may have to deal with a lot of no's before you get
that yes and if you really want to do this line of work, you
have to be able to take it all and keep it moving."
• Malinda Williams - "One piece of advice I would give is
to know your limits. Know what you will do and what you
won't do. People will always try to push you past your
boundaries and if you don't have that line..."
• Terri J Vaughn - "Stay humble. It's a blessing that we
get to do this. It's a privilege that we get to do what we
love. Never forget that."
Grown Girls Getaway will premiere on TV One on August 31.
On the set at Maracas Bay.
Cast of Grown Girls Getaway from left: Garcelle Beauvais,
Malinda Williams, Essence Atkins and Terri Vaughn.
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