On Set With Philip Headline Animator

Monday, October 11, 2010

Sundays at Tiffany's

Is a made for TV movie/TV pilot based on the book Sundays at Tiffany's. It is set in New York and is a woman and her childhood experiences of separation, betrayal and true love. As usual, this blog posting is not about the movie. It is about the production of the film - specifically about my experiences while working on the set.

I normally work as a background performer. This set is different as I am working as locations security on the night shift. The second night I worked was a Thursday and the location was Church St and Adelaide St. E. There were three of us working the overnight shift - Mike, another guy and myself.

This area of downtown Toronto has a lot of mentally ill homeless people. The weird thing is they seem like normal people that are down on their luck. One such character, I will call Richard as he kept calling me Richard, is the son of an Afghan and Kashmir (India) immigrants. We talked for hours about his experiences staying at homeless shelters and Somalis that protect him and other less fortunate residents of the shelter. Two things that struck me about "Richard" was how well educated he is and how anti-American and anti-Islam he is. As you may imagine, Richard did most of the talking and helped keep me awake and pass the time. Finally, around 5:00 a.m. I had enough with his ramblings about how evil both Muslims and America are and how Muslims will destroy America, I pointed out to him his arguments did not make sense. When I tried to show him why his argument did not make sense which only made him angry and accuse me of being brainwashed by the US government.

While talking with Richard, a city shelter employee, who I will call the "Shelter Guy" came out for a cigarette break and temporarily joined the conversation. After Richard left, the Shelter Guy came out again and we talked for a bit. He told me about his son. Guy's son had an accident shortly after birth that left him with severe brain damage. As you can imagine, Guy is very broken up and emotional about his son's condition. According to the doctors, his son will always be a vegetable. Guy's son is now four years old and recognizes his parents. Guy is also happy to acknowledge that his son understands a few words and actions like high five.

As the sun started rising I noticed something blue and black under the generator truck. Closer examination revealed it was a blue fabric and black metal frame folding chair. Since I was scheduled to work till 11:00 a.m., I decided to use the chair and now have something to sit on instead of sitting on the sidewalk.

The third night working on this set was Friday. The location was Ryerson and Wosley Sts. My location was near background holding, which was in a church. Again, the supervisor was Mike and I was partnered with Will. Will and myself were watching the filming trucks that were parked on Ryerson, Wosley and Denison Sts. in the Queen and Bathurst area. The night was uneventful. The next morning was a different story though as there was a funeral starting at 9:30 at the church. There were a couple film trucks parked in front of the church where the hearse and two funeral cars would be parked. The trucks needed to be moved. The funeral director arrived at 8:45 a.m. and was understandably upset as the trucks were still in front of the church. At 9:00 the drivers from the transport department had not arrived yet. I was in contact with Mike to let him know the situation. Mike arranged for a driver to move the trucks that were parked in front of the church to Ryerson and Wosley. Moments after the trucks were moved, the hearse and funeral party arrived. While the funeral was going on, the drivers from the transportation department arrived and began taking the trucks away. Before all the trucks were taken away, the funeral ended. There was a bit of a traffic jam as the people started leaving the church for the cemetery. Cars coming down Denison were not allowing the cars with the funeral to leave the parking lot. I decided to help out with traffic control so the people with the funeral were able to travel together. The last trucks was taken away at 11:00 a.m. and our shift finally ended.

The fourth night was the busiest and longest for me. The set location was on King St. W. between Yonge and Bay Sts. I was positioned on King St between Bay and York to watch the picture cars parked on the north side. Will was positioned at the north east corner of King and Bay for crowd control. I was really happy that I found the chair on the Thursday night shift. (Jason, the guy that owns the chair, let me use it till I see him again.) Saturday night was a bit busy for us as the normal Saturday night clubers were out with the drunks and homeless trying to disrupt the film set. The set finally wrapped around 4:00 a.m..

Transportation was scheduled to remove all the picture cars before 9:00 a.m. but the streets were closed by 8:00 a.m. for the Scotiabank marathon. The road closures for the marathon combined with road closures due to construction made the downtown core a series of circles that took hours to navigate. Jason's chair was eventually places in the middle of King St. W., half way between Yonge and Bay Sts., with backpack covered with a construction vest to alert motorists that bypassed the police barrier that the road was closed to the public. The expression on the faces of motorists coming up Jordan St. and turning left on King was priceless wehen they saw the chair. Many motorists drove around the chair and proceeded to Bay St only to be turned back by the police at the barricade. This resulted in many cars lining up on King to make a U-turn at Bay at King and more cars on Jordan St waiting to make the left turn onto King. I started singing "Follow the Leader". The chaious lasted till almost 5:00 p.m., about an hour after the marathon ended. My shifted, that started at 11:00 p.m. Saturday finally ended at 7:00 p.m. Sunday when the last picture vehicle was picked up.

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