Acting Debut & The Dress That Ate Cleveland

Posted: September 5, 2011 in Project Twenty1

I thoroughly enjoy writing. As a matter of fact it fulfills something in me that nothing else can.  I recently discovered that I am also content, you might even say blissfully happy to be behind the scenes joyfully watching my lines come to life through a capable actor.  But as they say, when duty calls sometimes you just have to take one for the team…

I was graciously invited by producer Chris Pierdomenico of Numa Network  to join his fabulous crew who were competing in the Project Twenty1 film competition –having won Audience Favorite two years in a row. Entrants have twenty-one days to complete their films after the “secret element” is announced.

I met with the director, got an idea of what he wanted the film to be about, and excitedly went about writing my portion of the screenplay.

We filmed the first couple of scenes beautifully and began going over what the next scene, to be shot in two days, would require.  The director had the location and actors lined up, but suddenly realized that the female he had in mind was way too young to play the wife of the male actor. That is when he turned to me and said, “I was thinking you might want to play the part!”

Shaking off the initial shock and wondering whether I should be complemented or not – wanting to be the team player that I am – I gulped and said “sure!” Fortunately, the part required narration, so the acting did not include any actual lines. But that did not deter the female insecurities from kicking in — how  was I going to be ready to be on the other side of a camera in two measly days? I mean everyone knows about the ten pounds a camera puts on. Being a team player was seeming more overrated by the minute.

After starving myself for two days and squeezing into a ”money back guarantee” tummy tucker as best I could, I took one last look in the mirror and told myself everything would be fine, and that this could turn out to be a dream experience.  Then I raced downstairs to meet the very lovely costume designer who had just arrived.

My eyes bulged as I watched the crew haul in all three parts to my period-piece dress. It was designed, I was told, to fit anyone of any size, through the use of satin ribbons, clasps, velcro, and perhaps a small pulley.  It was decidedly the largest, bulkiest, albeit masterfully designed dress I think I had ever seen. I exhaled my held in stomach, removed the tummy tucker, and resolved myself to the fact that despite all my efforts, my acting debut was not going to be every girls dream but developing more into my worst nightmare.

I managed to stumble my way onto the set holding up as much as I could grasp of the dress, desperately trying not to end up on my face. And thanks to Michael Dixon,  my very dapper and gifted acting partner,  I got through the scene only looking at the camera accidentally once.

I later learned what I believe to have been nothing short of divine intervention when the still photographer on set announced that her camera broke and she had to use mine to capture any photos of the dress that ate Cleveland. Realizing I would be the only one outside of the film itself to possess any evidence was some consolation.

But suffice it to say that after convincing the producer to please find an edit cut that didn’t have a wide angle, I was way too happy to  have a sandwich, crawl back behind my laptop and get back to creating scenes that real actors can stress over – huge dresses, tummy tuckers and all.

  1. Judy White says:

    Kathy: You make me laugh. Worst nightmare is right. Worser (I know it’s not a word) nightmare for me would be a bathingsuit scene! Yikes! Bring on the Burka!

  2. Michael F. Dixon Sr. says:

    The Sun the heat the bugs the costumes,why do we do it?To be known as a “Trooper” that’s why.What a delight it was to do a sceen with Kathy.To take direction is one thing but to do it with grace is quite another.

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