“It is the childlike mind that finds the kingdom.”
– Charles Fillmore
This week I got to witness something special while on a commercial shoot: I saw a child experience the process of filmmaking for the first time.
I’ve done several commercials. As up-and-coming artists we take jobs for the paycheck – which is just fine. Every time I can get in front of a camera, I think it’s a good thing. There is always something to learn and there are always ways to improve. That said, commercials where an actor has no lines doesn’t really exercise the acting muscles. So, although I just love being on set and meeting new people, it’s easy to become jaded to the process. I also tend to meet other jaded people. I’ve been on set with dozens of has-been hotshot models, name droppers, know-it-alls and fame seekers. It makes the work day a lot longer. Luckily, that wasn’t the case on this one.
One of the first scenes involved me coming home to my beautifully-cast family*, who was played by a real mother-daughter duo. It was eight-year-old Sophie’s first job she had ever booked, and it also happened to be her birthday.
Sophie wasn’t jaded to anything. She was curious. She loved the hair and makeup, she enjoyed the hell out of craft services, and she was fascinated by the camera. She got to experience taking direction, hitting a mark, the constant game of “hurry up and wait,” and doing take after take after take after take… And she killed it. She got better with every take. She treated me like her real father, even though she had known me for about an hour (although, in fairness, we had a great time using a flashlight to mess with a cat). And she got to experience the joy of the director saying, “That’s a wrap on Sophie!”
When we wrapped, the cameraman let her watch playback on the monitor, and Sophie got to see herself on film for the first time. It was as though she was seeing herself for the first time. The smile that spread across her face reminded me that filmmaking (or yes, even commercial making) is magical. And, as I often say, no matter how stressful, ridiculous, chaotic or tiring a day on set is, at the end of it, we’re just playing pretend.
So, if I may end with a Full House -style life lesson wrap up, it is this:
FIND A WAY EVERY DAY TO EXPERIENCE CHILDLIKE JOY IN YOUR LIFE.
*I started getting a lot more work when I began to look like a “young dad.” I’m not sure how to feel about that, but I’ll take it.