I was recently cast in a 4 day shoot for a casino on the border of Oklahoma and Arkansas. This was a job that I tentatively submitted for because of the time commitment - 4 days! - and the timing - it started shooting on Reed's 7th birthday. 
I submitted, knowing that it was likely I wouldn't get it but the pay was good and I thought, if I get cast then I'll worry about the logistics. The casting call came out well in advance, I think it was about a month away from the shoot date and with it being so far in the future it seemed like something I shouldn't stress about.


I got an email from my agent about 2 weeks later saying they wanted to put me on a "soft hold" for the shoot, but I still thought - sure, whatever, I've heard that before. 
I submit and submit and submit - If I had to put some numbers to it, I'd say maybe I get cast in about 1 of 5 jobs I submit for... maybe 1 of 4? I submit when I know I'll be in town and when the casting notice fits my demographic. 
When I was officially cast I had to let both Mike and Danielle know that this one was very demanding, time wise and that I'd have to get their blessing before I could say yes. The job required me to leave town on Sunday the 27th and stay over night for 4 nights, shooting all the way through Thursday.

I struggled with the guilt of abandoning my duties as a wife, mother and employee for 4 full days. The biggest weight lying on Reed's birthday - not being there when he wakes up on Monday morning to kiss his face and tell him how proud of him I am, my little birthday boy. I'll make it up to you. 
School had just started, the boys' first day was Wednesday so we hadn't even established a routine yet and here I was flitting off to work some photo shoot in a casino with a bunch of strangers. It was a sacrifice but it was what I wanted. I sat Reed down and explained the situation. He can be so mature and understanding, I just don't know what I did to deserve such a wonderful boy- I sure do see some of my own traits in him. As a child, I do remember being the one that would sit down next to my mother when I could sense her stress and want to be the shoulder she could lean on, a soft - tiny boned child shoulder, that was more confident than physically substantial, that couldn't have carried hardly any weight at all, should she have chosen to unload on me. But, when she would open up and share her single-momma grown up problems with me, it made me feel like I was the most special person in the world. I was the kind of kid that would pick up the broom and start sweeping or clear the table when I could tell my momma needed it most. Needed a child that wasn't going to challenge her or cause that tear she was holding back to slide over the edge. 

I wasn't an angel, I am not claiming that! But, its these small moments of understanding and affection between Reed and me that remind me of my relationship with my mom.
He agreed to let me go and agreed to my plan of making it up to him. We planned his birthday party for Sunday afternoon and I would have to leave afterwards for my 3 hour drive to the casino location. 
Mike has recently started a new role in his company, a highly sought after position that he was extremely fortunate to be selected for based off his critical skills and hard work that was recognized and rewarded. This added to the complication of me leaving town at this specific time as it added stress and required more planning and coordination with his schedule, the boys' schedule and our babysitter. 
I requested special late arrival from the producer, who had asked everyone to arrive Sunday by 3pm for wardrobe fitting - but whoa wait a minute - this job was shooting Monday through Thursday, I wasn't planning to be away from my family the full day Sunday on top of that... so I emailed him to explain it was my son's birthday and he was accommodating of my proposal to do my wardrobe fitting electronically. I like to bring my own wardrobe to shoots, because well - they fit me and I know I'll look great because they're all from LIBERTE :)
I emailed Raven, the stylist, photos of about 12 complete outfit ideas (top, jeans, accessories, shoes) based off her inspiration board. This took up a portion of my Saturday afternoon, but it was a better trade off since I was going to be able to spend more time at home!


We spent the week shooting different scenes around the casino, the principal talent getting a little closer and building friendships each day. The crew was fun to work with - I hit it off with both the makeup artist and the photographer - two people you should ALWAYS make sure like you. These two people will make sure you look good ;)
As principal talent, my call time was 7am each day and I was first in hair and makeup but then had about an hour to sit around and wait for shooting to commence. Day one I hop in Donna's chair and introduce myself. We immediate click - she's a no-nonsense lady who isn't going to sugar coat and her sassy personality makes me like her right away. Makeup artists don't *always* do my makeup the way I like it, but they do it the way the client asks so there's really no use fighting it or throwing a fit. the best thing to do is understand and accept this fact - you're not there to do your own portfolio photoshoot, you're getting paid, so it's important to play your role. You want to be the boss of the makeup artist? Then it's probably a good idea to hire a photographer and MUA and shoot what you want. But if this is a job, just let it go - it's worth it. The key is, once you establish a relationship and you're kind and respectful to the makeup artist ... you can start asking for small things like more eyeliner, or more contour. Rule number one is to never sneak away once they're finished and pop into a bathroom somewhere with your own makeup kit and go to work on their masterpiece. They will hate this, they will punish you for it in one way or another. It won't be pleasant. Be respectful of their work, because if you're not - it just never ends well. Trust me. If you've been in that chair you already know what I'm talking about. 

So Donna and I have fun throughout the shoot, a quick look at her and she'll run over to touch up my lip. I love when you get to the point where all you need is eye contact and viola, accomplished. 
There were a couple of actors I'd worked with before, Brandt who I recently spent 4 days over night with on another project only a month previous - so that was fun because we got to rehash stories from that shoot and reminisce. Other's I'd only met briefly but was able to grow that into a friendship. Four days is a long time to spend with people and you inevitably end up making friends. 

I liked the photographer because he was quirky - they all are in one way or another, it must be a requirement for the job - but he was also precise and efficient. He set up his shots and we shot them but the crew was good about keeping the atmosphere light and upbeat so the energy for the shots was positive. 


Each day after we wrapped, I would go up to my room and change so I could go run. I'd head across the boarder, which was about 50 feet from the hotel, and run in Arkansas along a little running trail I found near the university. It followed a creek and featured a couple small waterfalls and fountains. The weather was wonderful, the scenery refreshing and the fact that I had no other commitments was truly reviving. 
I ran, ate dinner and went to bed on my own schedule without anyone needing me to nag at them to brush their teeth or stay in their beds. 


If you're a parent, you can truly appreciate this! 
I felt a little guilty about it, but the payoff was the loads of patience I had when I came home. Even Reed commented, a few days after I'd been back, about how I was being such a good mommy and that he was really proud of me. For a child to be proud of his mommy's behavior is pretty big, in my opinion ;) A little role reversal that I'm sure is just the first taste of more to come.
The final day we were shooting at a Casino in another location just outside Tulsa, so they moved us to the Hard Rock which made our drive in the morning much shorter. I decided to get out this time and be social since I spent the other evenings quietly in and to myself. Plus, its the Hard Rock - a fun hotel with great energy and plenty of fun to be had. The hotel manager upgraded us to suites, which the cast loved and then we didn't end up spending much time in, because our group stayed out so late! We got a few of the principals together and grabbed drinks. I really enjoyed getting to know them better and am happy to have new friends. I mean, you can spend a lot of time together - four days shooting, but what seals the deal is a crazy night out. The next day was speckled with sleep deprived actors dragging themselves through the shot list. I could only laugh. Sure, I'd gotten minimal sleep- about 5 hours, but I was on a high from my night of letting go. My wild unfiltered dancing was still tingling in my bones and I was bubbling with energy. We were armed with inside jokes and sat choking on laughter, tears threatening to ruin my makeup that Donna so carefully applied. I felt like we were out of control, but the creative director and photographer liked it and said it made the images look genuine. I was feeling so guilty thinking that the giggling was disruptive so I'm glad it was okay for them... for the most part!


I wish I could write my memories of every shoot- but, how could I have the time for that?! I sit on a plane on the way to New York City - a trip I love to take because I get to submerge myself in fashion and meet with reps from all our designers. It's exhausting in its own way, but I love it! So I found myself with some time to type this out rather than binge watching episodes of my current favorite girl show. 
Thank you as always for making it to the end! I've gotten criticism on the length of my blogs, and I've implemented some suggestions and have completely blown off others. Hehe. It takes me a lot of words to say my things- I like the flow of my creative writing and it's mine, it's my outlet. For now, I like it this way - I hope some of you do, too!

Connie D FranklinComment