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Geoffrey Gould
Reports from the set/s...

Pelha Naach
Melanie Blair's USC Grad Student Film

Agustin Gonzalez's USC Student Film

Monday, February 02, 2004
It's Not Who You Know - - It's Who Knows You
November 2003 I worked as the lead on my first UCLA student film, J.S. Lerner's bittersweet Solo A few weeks later, I got called by Gina Nelson at UCLA. J.S. had given her one of my cards and had recommended me highly. I auditioned for her and she cast me in the co-starring principal role in Pathos, her Thesis film.
Weeks earlier, J.S. had already notified me that Martin Kisselov (who did slate for Solo) was interested in me for his ensemble The Father project; my audition for that project was Saturday January 31st.
On Monday, February 2nd I got an email from Melanie Blair of USC, relating that she had recently seen my performance . in Solo. She said outright that she thought my "performance was wonderful" and that she was looking for an actor to play a featured player role in a scene that I am shooting on Saturday (Feb 07, 2004). It is part of a short Bollywood style film. I would be playing a comic janitor who interrupts a loving couple at an inopportune moment of embrace. Though "brief," the role is very intergral to the film and would only require my time that Saturday. She realized it was a bit short notice, but if I was interested, that I should call her.
I immediately called Melanie's provided number and we spoke on the project, and we set it up. She indicated she would be working on the shot breakdowns, so she would know the best time to have me arrive. She was very considerate in that she didn't want me to arrive early and have sit around for hours. She told me she'd let me know by Friday the 6th.

Thursday, February 05, 2004
Calltime - nearly
Melanie sent out an email to her cast and crew with "all the info for Saturday, Feb 7, 2004." She'd told me during our phone conversation that the shoot (at least my scene) would be at the University Church on the USC Campus. The crew call was 7:30am, but in the email message she indicated probably not going beyond 5:30pm.
Referring to me, she thought "probably mid-day" and she apologized for not being very specific (yet). Apparently another film crew would be using the same church the same day and the two projects were working on their schedules so as not to be in each others' way.
The email also gave the title of the project: Pelha Naach.

Friday, February 06, 2004
Melanie paged and left on my voice mail my 8:30am Saturday calltime. She indicated that'd give me time in make-up and they'd be ready for me most likely at 9am.
Directly afterwards, I got a page confirming my callback Sunday February 8th for The Father. If cast (I would be the title role), that project was scheduled to shoot the last four days of February.

Saturday, February 07, 2004
I arrived for my 8:30am calltime at 7:50am. As anticipated, the church was easy to find and as I arrived I found Melanie Blair and her Director of Photography and cameraperson Elisabeth Stone unloading equipment, to which I lent a hand. Apparently the church would not be opened for them/us until the stroke of 8:00am. I was also introduced to the rest of the four person crew for today: Agustin Gonzalez and Begoa Castillo.
(Later I was told they had a few more crew type folks, who were not there today.)
Melanie loved my "janitor outfit," which was the khaki shirt I initially got to go with my khaki pants with which to audition for the national Halls commercial that I booked and shot the previous November, which simply evapourated and never aired.
As I didn't know how "character'y" Melanie wanted the janitor, I brought with me my shaving kit, having deliberately let my facial hair grow for a couple of days. She loved the look, so I didn't have to shave it off. Seven days earlier for my first audition for The Father I had shaved, then saw in the script the character was unshaven, I figured I could leave it on for the next day callback.
Once the church was opened, we headed in and Melanie provided me with some sides and went over what she needed. Elisabeth showed me the day's shot breakdown. Downstairs in the bathroom I came across the actual custodial closet and brought up the mop and bucket to use.
Around 8:45am Andriana did my make-up: "anti-shine," as she called it.
Melanie and I discussed my blocking and such while Elisabeth set up the camera and Agustin the lights. Throughout the day Begoa helped anywhere and everywhere that immediate assistance was required. Begoa later informed me that the film's Pelha Naach title means "First Dance."
Throughout the film the two leads, Rashin and Jeffrey, keep "getting closer" and one thing or another keeps interrupting their Actual (First) Kiss. My appearance is one such interuption. I was to be shown arriving and coming down the hallway, in which (on the floor), they're sharing an intimate take-out Chinese dinner Jeffrey has supplied.
We did a few run-through and camera rehearsals, and at about 9:00am my first-approach shot was done in one take.
Lovely Laki Manchu (playing Rashin) Todd Cahoon (playing Jeffrey) arrived, and we were introduced. Various shots were done of their on-the-floor dinner and their obvious increasing attraction for and to each other. Around 10:50am, with the shot breakdown list indicating the "amount of time" I had, I realized breakfast sounded like a good thing. I knew there was some soda available but I was unaware at the time that there was a bag of munchies. Melanie an'all had provided coffee (which I don't drink), and bagels (which I don't eat), so as often is the case, I knew I had to go forage. Thankfully I know the area enough to know that two corners north on Hoover is a Wendy's so I quickly scooted up there and brought back with me my normal meal.
Laki and Todd are actor work-horses like me, so they were fine with Continuing On without an immediate break or meal break. We got to my additional angles in which I am shown seeing them on the floor in "my corridor," and my coming up towards them. My arrival sends (an embarressed?) Rashin fleeing, both to my and Jeffrey's surprise.
"Despite" my being done by 1:00pm, I was strongly welcomed to stay, which, considering the fun group, I did. When needed, in front of the strong lamps I held a "net" or "silk" (light diffusers). Between set-ups and during their eventually taken lunch, I also chatted with Mel an'all.
The very pleasant, cute and sweet-smiling Melanie has been all over the world, doing several documentaries and such, and indicated that she would love to do movies similar to the powerful then-recent City of God.
Begoa has worked much in Spain, and found she is better at matching working people together, and would love to make films along the lines of Chariots of Fire and The English Patient.
Melanie also told me how she came to see Solo.... she was visiting a mutual friend of J.S.'s and he had the DVD with him (smart man!), and it was shown. She was understandably impressed.
Laki had an audition, and things began rushing to accomodate her leaving for it. Between takes and during set ups, she would recite and reconfirm in her mind her lines. Once she left, they only had a few more shots of Todd alone as Jeffrey.
We were finished by about 4:30pm, and Laki called Mel's cell to notify her/us that she'd not only made it to the audition, she'd done well enough that she had a callback for it.
I helped carry out equipment and we were out of there by 5:00pm.
Melanie was considering entering the finished film into short subject film festivals, but based on results she either did not or neglected to inform her cast.

Sunday, March 07, 2004
Destiny's Tango
When I accepted the role of the Groom's Father in Destiny's Tango, being produced by Agustin Gonzalez and shot March 7th, I discovered when I arrived on set that Melanie Blair was running camera. She reported that the editing for Pelha Naach was coming along quite well.
The scene for which I was needed was a surreal fantasy sequence; essentially I clash champagne glasses with another woman as my spouse. The glasses shatter, though the woman and I are happy and unconcerned.

Saturday, September 11, 2004
A few days earlier, Melanie emailed those who worked on Pelha Naach about USC's Peter Stark Producing Program 25th Annual Screening of the Class of 2005's Student Films.
I suspected that Destiny's Tango might also be shown, and upon taking my seat and a quick glance at the program found this to be true, though know the title had been reduced simply to Tango.
As Melanie had hoped in her email, Pelha Naach was shown first.
All of the films had no dialogue, though ambient and sound effects were allowed. Pelha Naach was colourful and bittersweet, and moving.
It was cool seeing this with an audience my first time. As with Solo shown to an audience, the moment I am first seen, the audience laughs. I know this is A Good Thing, considering the two films and the context of my respective characters. It's still a bit comically odd. Of the twelve films being shown, Tango was shown nineth. It was very well done, though, as often happens, clearly the short was Re-Thought as it progressed. The fantasy sequence was omitted completely. Patrick didn't simply forget us: he professionally did place our names into the Thanks To catagory in the credits.
I spoke with Patrick to congratulate him on the well-made film. He indicated my copy would be possibly available in a month or two. If it did become available, it was never provided.
The film program only listed the top main crew members of each film, none of the casts or the full crews.
True to her word, Melanie had copies of the Pelha Naach DVD and what copies they were! Melanie had gone to town on the elaborate packaging: the graphics for the front and back cover, inside photo and a photo label on the DVD itself. Melanie had on the back cover a photo of the cast obviously between shots (during whatever day the scene was shot), standing near a swimming pool. The swimming pool photo is credited to Kate Ziemba; Searra Head is credited for the front cover photo composite of the love triangle cast. About 60% of the photo (above the cast) were credits, printed up to give the impression this was a movie poster or a frame-grab from a preview trailer.

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