Monday, April 21, 2014

The CARRIER Book Trailer Shoot - Anne's Diary

If any of you follow me on Instagram or Twitter, you would have seen some pictures I took of the CARRIER book trailer that was shot this past weekend.

I wish I could adequately describe to you what it felt like to watch CARRIER be brought to life in front of my eyes, but I can't seem to find the right words.
Here, let me try...

I've written scripts for television before, so I know what it feels like to have my words spoken back to me through the television set - but these were all freelance scripts I sold to someone else's show. These were not characters I created, but ones that already existed. I was just putting words in someone else's mouth.

But to have the world of Auberge come to life (the city where CARRIER takes place), to have characters I'd only seen in my head come running past me - it was an emotion I can't quite articulate. To say the least, it was overwhelming. If I didn't know any better, I'd say it was freaky enough to make me lose touch with reality for brief moments in time. Like some sort of sick and twisted deja vu.

The first location of the book trailer shoot was in an alley in downtown LA. This alley was off 6th street and came with it's own cardboard house, yelling homeless residents, a discarded rubber glove on the ground next to a glob of petroleum jelly, smears of and an actual pile of human feces, and a river of urine running down the middle of the road, which pooled at a drain that had long ago stopped draining anything.

The smell! Oh my God. The smell!

In CARRIER, one of the most distinguishing factors of Auberge, the corporation that owns the city, is the smell. The air is so toxic it makes Naya nauseous throughout the entire book.

To then have the lead actress playing Naya coughing and covering her nose and complaining about how the air tasted badly, and then to experience that myself! - it was like listening to Naya step outside the Line for the first time. It was like being Naya as she stepped out of the Line for the first time.
There were actual moments as I stood in the alley, smelling that horrific stench, that I teared up - because if I could barely stand it for just a few hours, imagine what it must have been like for the people in Auberge to live in that 24/7, not to mention the real life man who lived in the cardboard box down at the end of the alley. It was too much to bear. Too much. By the time that location wrapped I was cranky as hell and desperate to get out of there. Desperate. If I could have, I would have run back to base camp and left the rest of the crew in my dust.

Another aspect of the shoot which brought me to near tears was when we created the hallway of the Line. In the book, naked girls are lined up, inspected, and assigned "appointment" rooms. These imaginary girls were then expected to get raped by ten men a day, seven days a week, until their bodies gave out, or they died.

Since we were limited by the confines of REAL LIFE (thank God!), we couldn't exactly hire actresses to strip down naked and line up in the hallway of a sex factory, so our director, Wes Armstrong, found a hallway in a television studio, dressed it with Auberge logos, and we hired four actresses, plus our lead, to wear distressed tank tops and underwear and to simulate the motion of an assembly line of girls entering and exiting an appointment room. Plus, we had a "guard" in full tactical gear patrolling the hallway. And - WOW - the image of these girls - HOLY MOTHER OF GOD - did these actresses knock it out of the park - I WAS A MESS!

If I stood on set and saw the girls, their real life faces with smiles and laughing and chatting between takes, I was fine. But the moment the camera was rolling, and they were in character, and I was in the control room watching them from behind the screen, them suffering as girls on the Line suffered - I couldn't handle it!

For better or worse my two daughters were at the shoot with me, and they wouldn't leave me alone.
"Mom, are you crying?"
"Mom, are you okay?"
"Why are you covering your eyes?"
"Mom?"

It was like watching my worst nightmare. My. WORST. Nightmare.
It's one thing to have written about it, and create that horrible place - it was all in my imagination, safely locked away in my mind's eye. But to have it VISUALIZED - and done sooooo well -
it quite literally wrecked me.

But because I'm a "professional" and because my daughters were there, and because I didn't want anybody to know what I was REALLY going through, I made a few comments about how it was really, really disturbing and sucked back my emotions - but the truth was, I wanted to go hide in a corner and bob back and forth like a lunatic.

It was like shoving a person with claustrophobia in an elevator.
IT FELT LIKE THAT!

I was beside myself. And then, thankfully, mercifully - it was done.
I shook hands with the actresses (again, they REALLY did an amazing job), and handled business and was all smiles. But internally - holy shit in a bucket - TURMOIL.

For the second half of the studio shoot, we moved to an "appointment room," and had the main character inside, Naya, while several different "johns" entered.
There was not much to it, technically. And it was shot minimally, but creepily. It was not AS disturbing as the girls lined up in the hall.
BUT STILL -
It was damned uncomfortable.

The actress, Briana Wilson, did a fabulous, fabulous job of showing Naya's vulnerability and her strength, and Wes, the director, kept asking me questions about her frame of mind, and how did I like this shot? And how was that? Keeping me involved and keeping the mood of the room just on the cusp of fun and business.

But all I kept thinking was that I wanted to leave and go hide in a corner, any corner - maybe have a gin and tonic, or go stand in the parking lot, alone, and smoke a cigarette, or two, or six (and I don't even smoke!) - but no, I'M A PROFESSIONAL and I held it together.

They finished the shoot. I was all business, took care of closing down and cleaning up the studio - gave out tee shirts and pens to the crew as a thank you - all smiles and hand shakes and thank yous.

But I'm telling you right now - after you have seen the darkest regions of your imagination come to life - you are never the same again.

Or, at least for the last few days since the shoot, I haven't been the same.
Maybe I'll feel "normal" again after a day or two?
Maybe?
I hope?

But even despite all that mental anguish, torture, and uncomfortable feels - to show you, my readers, just a taste of what I was trying to show in CARRIER - it will change you. And to me - that's worth every ounce of angst.

It's true what they say…

A picture is worth a thousand words.






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