I am really reluctant to write about my day yesterday without accompanying pictures, but I think I'm going to have to because I didn't have my camera. I took a bunch of pictures on David's camera, but he is flying to the Phillipines tonight and who knows if he'll get a chance to send them to me. I also have crappy pictures on my cell phone, but I don't know how to get them off, and none of the cords I own seem to be able to do it. So sans-pictures it is.
Yesterday was possibly the silliest, yet easiest day I have ever had on set. It was long, and there wasn't any food I wasn't allergic to, but it was still easy. If my description of it is vague and convoluted, you'll have to forgive me-- I experienced the whole thing and yet am still confused as to what exactly happened. I will try to put it all together in a logical way, to the best of my ability.
My friend David from AFI has worked for a documentary company in the past that is based in New York. This company and a company here in LA were, together, working for a very very rich client who used to own Kraft Foods, or be CEO, or something like that. In any case, this guy was loaded, and he was about to marry his girlfriend of apparently many many years. These people were probably at least 60, and have been dating (with some ups and downs, if I understand correctly) since Pretty Woman was in theaters. How do I know this? Well, their first date was going to see Pretty Woman, and because of this, the guy, Stefan, decided that he would use the movie as a theme and pamper the living crap out of his fiance for a day, making it seem as though she was actually IN the movie. This is where the LA company comes in-- it's a company that apparently helps people live out their fantasies, which usually for some reason involve movies. The LA company hired David on the recommendation of the New York company to film the whole day, and he in turn hired another camera operator and me to be his camera assistant. There was also a photographer for the whole day, a designer for the hotel suite (I'll get there) and multiple actors involved.
The day started with everyone staked out at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel. My job at that point was to be an undercover camera person-- I had a little point-and-shoot that also shoots 16x9 HD video. I was pretending to be a tourist when the party's giant SUV pulled up to the hotel. I shot them going in, and being introduced to the "manager" (an actor), who gave the woman a bag with a "clue" in it. Oh- quick aside: the woman's name was Heidi, but we were supposed to call her "Vivien" all day... like Julia Robert's character in Pretty Woman. Mental, I know. We were also supposed to call Stefan "Edward." Anyway. So she got some sort of clue or other that led her a few blocks West to Neiman Marcus, where she had a personal shopper (also an actor, but one who knew his way around fashion) help her buy THOUSANDS AND THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS OF CLOTHES. I, personally, had very little to do at Neiman Marcus- I ended up wandering around a bit and nearly fainting at the price tags on the clothes. There was one tank top with stupid little beads on it that cost $1600.
After Neiman Marcus "Vivien" was whisked downtown to a loft studio where there was a makeup artist and hair stylist who fussed over her a LOT, and they had a photo shoot with a very high end photographer who reminded me a lot of Seth Kamphuijs, my Cycle 1 producer... same sort of pseudosleezy, confident attitude. Anyway, we were at the loft FOREVER, taking pictures in all her various outfits. I, again, had very little to do. I charged batteries and swapped tapes, and every now and then David would get sick of shooting the makeup sessions and let me take over. But for the most part, it was boring. "Vivien's" two friends were with her, these other old German ladies (everyone involved in this is German), and they seemed unendingly bored. Who can blame them? The highlight of ridiculousness was when an actress BURST into the room dressed as a hooker, and fussed about "Vivien" as though they were old friends from the hooker days at the beginning of Pretty Woman. She handed her another clue, smacked her gum, posed for pictures, and then left.
The point of the photo shoot was to have the actor who was playing the stylist and the photographer (who was not an actor) pretend that "Vivien" was so great, so naturally talented that she had to go to New York and be in a runway fashion show... a runway fashion show that "Edward" was paying for completely, just so that she could be in a runway fashion show. I don't know if this woman actually fell for any of this crap, but I hope to god she didn't.
I guess the clue led to a restaurant, because that's where the German people and David went next, but the B camera guy and I went back to the Beverly Wilshire and waited around in the presidential suite as it was being decorated. The designer and the woman who owns the LA company laid a trail of rose petals all around the suite (which was HUGE- it was bigger than the flat I grew up in, bigger than our apartment in Evanston, definitely bigger than Kristin's suite at the Sheraton in 5th grade... it had three bedrooms and three bathrooms and an office and a dining room and a huge balcony and it was insane) and there were candles everywhere. They'd brought in a grand piano just for the night, so that "Edward" could play "Pretty Woman" for "Vivien" when they got up to their room. There were other random details-- the designer played a maid who handed her another clue, the manager at the hotel spoke German so was recruited to pretend to be a bartender, etc-- but that is the main course of the day.
The "Pretty Woman" on piano part is awfully sweet- he learned to play the piano just so he could be like Richard Gere in the movie. But if I were her, I would have rather spent the whole day with my fiance than have him pay for a dozen people to pamper me all day. I realize that megarich people simply see the world differently from me, and that when you're really rich, maybe you have to go to greater heights in order to impress anyone, but it all just seemed so extravagant and unnecessary. Let this be a warning to any boyfriends/fiances/husbands I may have in my life: I would much rather you cook me dinner than send me out with strangers on a shopping spree. If you feel truly compelled to spends scads of cash, take me somewhere cool! Take me to Argentina, or Iceland, or Bali, or Russia or something! Hell, take me to Chicago to see my friends! Not that I would scoff at a hotel suite filled with rose petals or anything, but really... the poor maid who has to clean all those up!
I spent the day slightly appalled by the showboatiness of it all, but at some point I realized that hey, a whole lot of people were employed for the day because this guy wanted to show his girlfriend how much he loves her. And there's nothing wrong with that. It's a weird, unnecessary way to do it, but I'm not going to complain. I actually made money for the day, which is more than I can say for most of my days recently. So in the end it's win-win, and I just hope that "Vivien" didn't think it was too ridiculous. I definitely saw a couple eye rolls on her end.
It also made me really happy that, for the most part, the rich people I know don't show off like that. I grew up with the privileged kids in San Francisco, and while we ourselves were never rich, a lot of kids I went to school with certainly were. Sure, there was the kid with the pool in his front foyer, and the kid with the penthouse apartment overlooking the city skyline, and the kid with all the stupid modern art in her house, but for the most part, the rich people didn't seem like rich people. They wore jeans and drove SUVs and helped their kids with their homework. I have aunts who are very well off who still shop at sales and cut coupons- and I love that about them.
I just hope David sends me some pictures so that I can share the insanity with all you other normal, not rich people.
UPDATE: I forgot!! Random weirdness: the woman who owned the company in LA was named Jennifour. No, that's not a typo... JenniFOUR. And it was pronounced as such. Either it's a really uppity name change on her part, or her parents were certifiably insane.