Laundry Day

The big day came this weekend; my actual scenes as the Showman character in the independent movie The Pink House were filmed this Saturday.  Yes, after weeks of prep work and anticipation, it was finally time to make my way to set and act.  To bask in the magic of moviemaking.  The sunlit glory of Tinseltown.

Well, scratch that last part – this film is shot on location at a brownstone on Bank Street, in the West Village here in New York City.  So in the course of getting to the film shoot on Saturday, I did have to make my way through a driving March rainstorm – no California sunshine for me, at least at this moment in my life.  But the whole point of The Pink House is that it’s shot at the very same eccentric old brownstone where the story takes place.  Regardless of the weather, and any other logistical difficulties, we wouldn’t want to shoot anywhere else.

Of course, since this film operates on a certain dream logic, we can’t use the brownstone exactly as it is.  For instance, my character of the Showman is modelled after an old-time Coney Island carney barker, and he operates out of a little booth that’s materialized at the landing of the second floor stairs.  In order to shoot his scenes, my little enclosure – more than one crew member likened it to the ‘Zoltar’ booth from Big – had to be built in the doorway of the actual room which was at the top of the real landing.

The laundry room.

An audience will never know, of course (unless they’ve conveniently read this post); the washer and dryer were well out of camera frame.  (I wound up using them as prop tables).  And brocaded, royal blue curtains were hung behind me, to serve both as set dressing and as masking.  But for the three and a half hours it took to shoot my scenes – which will count for perhaps a minute or two of the finished film, at most – I was in my old-timey costume leaning against a modern day washing machine, my stocking feet feeling the laundry room tiles beneath me.

About that – remember the driving rainstorm that day?  Well, my shoes – which I’d worn to match my costume, mind you – were soaked completely through as a result.  So as soon as I arrived at the brownstone I got a nice roaring fire going in the living room fireplace and set my shoes to dry in front of it.  (This brownstone contains not one but two working fireplaces and has fresh firewood delivered to it – at 3 in the morning, because that’s when firewood deliveries take place in Manhattan.  Who knew?)  Said living room served as the production office for the day, so our associate producer was happy for the warmth.  Meanwhile, I spent the rest of the day in my fuzzy socks, which fortunately dried out faster than my shoes.

So, to reiterate: when you see this film, and behold me in my magical little booth from out of some lost time, you’re actually looking at me standing in somebody else’s laundry room, shoeless, smushed into the tiny little fraction of the room that hasn’t been curtained off.

Oh, and there was a dog hanging out on set, which was a nice perk!

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