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Geoffrey Gould
Reports from the set/s...
Trails and Santa Croce
Gavin Heffernan's AFI student films

Saturday, March 12, 2005
Last-Second notice, sort of
In my Suspect Email Folder (which I manually check each time I check my email), I received an email from a Ben Dally regarding an AFI shoot, filming the following day / Sunday the 13th. I recalled submitting for this project maybe two weeks or so previously, but had heard nothing further about it, so I figured I'd not been selected. This notice came out of nowhere, with the time and location, and in context it seemed to imply it was one of several email notices. But it was the first email I'd received. Thankfully I was still available, and I was able to figure out how best to get there.
Normally I do not do background for student films except for variables I find compelling. In the case of this particular project, I'd not done an AFI student film but most intriguingly, it would be done in a sound studio permanently done up to be used as airline terminal/s.

Sunday, March 13, 2005
Trails shoot
I arrived an hour early, which was better than I expected as upon arrival by bus, I realized I wasn't sure in what direction was the address. I found it, only walking a couple of blocks out of my way. There I found a few others already there, as well as Second AD Will Dickerson and soon, emailer (and Second Second AD) Ben Dally. I let Ben know how I'd only received the Final Notice, and good thing too, otherwise I'd have missed it.
All the background performers had to sign a Safety Form, which essentially indicated we understood we should do our best not to let a plane fall on us or such, and we were brought into holding: a large kitchen area with lots of craft service'y type stuff: soda, fruit, candy, etc.
To make the airport background atmosphere seem more realistic, those with children were encouraged to bring them along, and along they did. I would guess there were about 15 kids, thankfully all pretty much well behaved.
Now and then the affable Ben would come in to reassure us (the few that were The Earliest), that we'd be brought to set in a little while.
The Air Hollywood studio is a soundstage in San Fernando, within an easy walk of the #94 bus/San Fernando Road. Inside they have full airplane mock-ups and a two hundred foot long concourse. They've had many major motion picture and television series filming there, many "thanks to" the increased "security" at actual airports, due to 9-11 and the ilk.
Eventually we were brought in and were placed. One area of the corridor was deemed "too empty," so I stood there and read a book I'd brought along, as though waiting for my flight to be called or such. People as far back as the magazine stand at the farthest end either were given business to do or thought up stuff on their own.
Eventually they wanted a shot of people walking and crossing around the two leads, Verton Banks and Suzanne Ford. I was to cross over to the arrivals and departures board for a few moments, then carry on, passing them on their right. The rehearsals went fine, until we started to shoot. Along the side where I'd go to pass them was a set of prop rental-baggage-carrier push-carts, which created a traffic jam between we in one direction with those coming from the other direction. Thankfully this was a good production crew, and the background people they'd booked were experienced in getting around such obstacles without even looking as though there's a problem. So what started out as a problem was only a illusion, and for each take, it was handled without any of the crew thinking there was a problem and trying to "correct" it.
During one of the set-up shows being set up, I noticed I was standing along side the pleasant Verton Banks so we got to chatting. He indicated there was another day or two of the shoot, which as with any unpaid film, can be a bit tricky. But he loved the powerful script and is really pleased to be able to work on the film.
Technically we were wrapped at 7:30am, but a few volunteers were asked to stay to 8pm so I quickly added my raised hands with those others.
The project's writer/director Gavin Heffernan and I introduced each other and he placed me at and checking the departures board for an establishing shot. Other volunteers then were to cross back and forth after I'd left screen. We actually got done I think by 7:45pm. Gavin assured us that yes, all background would be getting copy and credit.

Monday, March 14, 2005
Recall Request
Having been provided a callsheet, once home the previous night, I checked on a few of the crew IMDB listings. I was surprised to learn that Ben Dally was from New Zealand, as he did not reflect its accent.
Almost ironically, I received another email from Ben, in an amusingy near-pleading way all but begging if I could possibly come out for another day's shooting for Trails, shooting the following day/Tuesday out in Pasadena. A quick check brought it up as within easy walking distance from the tail end Sierra Madre station of the MTA Gold Line. I replied to assure Ben I would be there.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005
More shoot
Despite following the MTA's directions, the Gold Line run got me there only ten minutes early for my calltime instead of the half hour I'd wanted. Craft services were provided, pretty much, but most of the real sodas were already gone; only diet and Dr. Pepper were becoming the only available cans.
They really only needed a tiny handful of background, as they were filming a scene in the airport bar. An alcove of the Pleasures Gentlemen's Club served this purpose perfectly. Outside the room in the main area, constructionists were renovating the place, which was in a substantial shambles. To our collective amazement, they were actually opening up that day (at 3pm)! If I'd walked into this club as a patron in its then-current condition, I'd turn right around...
Fellow background artist Marie Marquez and I kept each others' brains occupied during the lengthy times between being placed for the scene.
When he wasn't actually doing something, Ben Dally and I also spent much of the day (between shots) discussing various films, as well as New Zealand and such.
At lunch Gavin Heffernan expressed his thanks I was able to come out. I assured him as I was Already Involved (having worked it Sunday), it was characteristic of me to continue being in service to the project, considering what a pleasant crew it was. I told Gavin I'd checked his IMDB entry and I was impressed with his experience to date. Gavin assured me that it was most likely I'd be used in future projects (his, others on the crew), and not necessarily Just Background.
When they turned around the camera to take in the whole room, I was placed at a table next to Verton. He speaks with Suzanne who is at the next table, and she eventually joins him. I'd brought the same book and read it at my table. For the airport, I brought my blue-bag (a small gym bag of sorts). and my regular beige'ish carry-on bag. For today I only brought my blue-bag. Gavin replaced it with a black leather bookbag type case which sits on my table. (Ironically, the fellow who takes over my seat after I depart uses my blue bag.)
Eventually there is An Announcement for a flight, which is mine, and I look up subtly to acknowledge I hear it, I fiddle about a bit, and I depart. As I had a colourful broshure in my suit jacket pocket (both days), I did a little thing where, when the announcement comes, to check my pocket to Make Sure My Ticket was accessable. I also added a bit of dropping two singles on the table, so it doesn't look like I'm skipping on a bar bill.
The earlier-mentioned same-day wrap party was put on hold, not merely as it was mid-week, but other projects needed work as early as the next day.
When ready for screening we would all be notified and at that event we would receive our copies. Gavin indicated the screening could be within two to three weeks.

Wednesday, April 6, 2005
Trails screening scheduled
I received an email from Ben that there is a scheduled screening for Trails at AFI for Friday April 8th at 9:15am (later clarified as more along the lines of 9:30am). Apart from seeing the whole movie (along with one other AFI film which Ben relayed has a three minute running time), I should be receiving my DVD copy at then as well. I thought it should be interesting to see how many people (who worked background) in the cast actually show up for a screening on a weekday morning.

Friday, April 8, 2005
Trails AFI screening
This was my first time to AFI, on Western, north of Hollywood Boulevard.
I arrived at AFI by around 8:30am for the 9:15am-9:30am start-time screening. Marie Marquez was already there, which didn't surprise me as she's a reliable Taurus as well. The screening room had maybe two or three people there: I didn't think to count or ask about its capacity, but most likely it could hold about 100 to 200 people. Around 9am, the place suddenly filled up quickly. There were some background folk but not everyone.
Gavin and Ben arrived, and after a few minutes a large gentleman (I presume their teacher, though he never introduced himself), simply introduced the film and it began.
Trails is a very moving story of a young man heading to boot camp which will prepare him for being shipped to Iraq. The story does not deal with the illegality of Bush's unlawful invasion of a sovereign nation currently posing no threat except to Dubya's paranoia and personal insanity, but deals with the internal concerns of Isaac (Verton Banks) as he heads to LAX and waits for his plane to be called. During his wait he comes across (Suzanne Ford) and (despite at first they somewhat fib to each other as to their travel plans), the two bond as they await their respective flights.
It's quite powerful and engaging, even more than I'd anticipated.
I don't mind dramas, but I've seen short film dramas that get drenched (and entrenched) In The Drama in an attempt for Impact. Trails doesn't bonk-bonk on the head. I'd venture to use the word Sweet regarding much of it. I am always impressed when a film's script can surprise me, and very rarely does this happen with a short.
Here Isaac relates a thesaurus-worthy word to her for her crossword, and when he reveals how he knows such a word (as it relates to the film), I got a bit of a gut punch.
(Apart from people looking at it and going WTF? over it, I [almost] wondered why the film wasn't simpled titled Requiant...)
Marie and I noted in the credits that we had been "upgraded" from the long listing of Extras (sic) to our now being Airline Passengers (along with the few others who came in on the Tuesday shoot).
As with the in-class screening of the UCLA student film Pathos, in which I co-starred, after Trails screened, the performers were all shoo'd out of the auditorium so the class could discuss the film and safely discuss how sucky actors are, et al.
Most of the performers simply departed; a handful of us remained not only to thank Gavin, but as Gavin had told me at the shoot that the DVDs would be here. One of the actors reported once having been to a student screening but had hung back, eavesdropping and learned they do discuss a lot about the acting and how the director could have Gotten More out of them here and there, etc., sometimes dwelling on this more than on the technical side.
I mentioned to Suzanne I felt she tended to resemble Leslie Ann Warren in the film; she told us she'd often get Marlo Thomas as a referent. She and Verton told those of us who didn't know some of the background: how long it took to shoot, et al. They concurred with me how when a shot was softly lit it looked like film, when brightly lit you could tell it was High-Def. One shot intercut with Suzanne (soft lighting) to Verton (brightly backlit), in which Suzanne seemed to be on film and Verton was so backlit it caused a just-noticeable "line" around his head as though he had been (badly) green-screen digitally-added later.
When they eventually came out, Ben and Gavin relayed how pleased they were with the turn-out as well as my relating how impressed with the film I was/am. I congratulated Gavin and thanked for the "credit upgrade." When pointing out Marie and my noticing it, Ben smiled, "That's as it should be."
Gavin thanked me for my work (this page), and indicated most likely calling me for "another project probably sometime in June." He also pointed out noticing my Very Familiar Blue Bag I had with me, which I told him contained my clothes-change for a commercial audition I was to have about five hours later.
It turned out the DVDs would be ready "in about a week."
Ben and I posited over Suzanne's resemblence to Susan Sarandon (his thought) and Leslie Ann Warren (my thought). I told Ben she'd earlier told us she'd been likened to Marlo Thomas. Ben shrugged, having never heard of Marlo Thomas. He'd never heard of That Girl either. Yikes.
As she was nearby we mentioned this to her, and she was not able to get Ben to recognize who was Marlo Thomas either.
Marie suddenly was nowhere in sight, so Gavin and Ben weren't able to thank her, unless she showed up after I'd scooted to go to work, considering I could only work four hours as the night before my agency called with a commercial audition for late afternoon.
Barely back at work I realized I had completely forgotten to ask about a wrap party, if any, and if Ben had forwarded to Gavin the April 2nd birthday wishes I'd emailed to Gavin via Ben (as I didn't have Gavin's email).

Thursday, April 28, 2005
Trails DVD received
With my inability to attend the second screening, Gavin emailed me that the DVD was ready. We arranged to meet at AFI at 5pm, and as I worked closed by and get out around 4pm, I got there about 4:30pm. Gavin promptly emerged at 5pm. I wasn't surprised to learn he had class the next day/Friday so he could not attend the LAFS screeing. I was given two DVD copies of Trails as well as, unexpectedly, a copy of his independant film Expiration, which, according to the cover copy, took twenty-nine months to complete.
Gavin indicated that the summer project, if it coalesces, could commence in June. He concurred he might have to go SAG Experimental (with which to get good talent, as well as give the feature some "credibility," etc., though SAG's rules [of actors not being allowed to act] personally irks me).
Again apologizing for being unable to attend the next day's screening, he requested being kept abreast of my work.

Sunday, April 23, 2006
Santa Croce reshoots

Somehow the report I did up for working on Santa Croce, was lost.

In early 2006 I was contacted to play a sheriff's deputy for Gavin's latest moving drama, and I worked on two major scenes: one at a cemetary in which I do some crowd control, and the climax within the church, the second of which being filmed near Sunset Boulevard and the 405.
I was contacted in April for some reshoots, specifically the church scene.
Gavin had indicated my Deputy-Sheriff role would be "greatly expanded," to which I presumed was due to what with David Schroeder being unavailable to reprise/continue his role as the Sheriff. The calltime was 2pm (meaning of course, I arrived at 1:35pm), the day scheduled to be 2:00-9:30pm. We ended up wrapping at 11:30pm. Thankfully my friend Terry Berkin, as always, graciously offered me a ride home. She had played a nun previously and did again today, though she somewhat hoped she could be "a civilian" this time (as the headpiece of the habit was again being extremely uncooperative). The climactic scene ended up being reshot as well, to end the film a bit less cryptically than originally written/shot. Unfortunately for David, this meant (as David was not there), someone else now was to carry in the seemingly mortally wounded Allison (played by young Allisyn Arm), which is how it was originally filmed. For a few moments, it was to be me carrying the (then about to be birthday'd) ten year old actress (e.g., she was all but two days away from being ten); but the job got handed off to a taller man playing a priest. But as with the previous shoot of the scene, I still open for them the door and follow them down the aisle of the church. We got to this bit around 8pm. While Allisyn and I waited around, I indicated it was interesting that Allisyn was playing "Allison." She told me the role of Zoe was originally to be played by Zooey Deschanel, hence the Same Name'ness of the characters. While Abby Eiland playing Zoe was quite good, I would have liked to have worked with Zooey Deschanel (more than I did on a [late-filmed yet still omitted] reshoot bookstore scene for her feature Failure to Launch)... So the AFI student film Santa Croce finally wrapped; we were told we would be notified as to its progress, screening and/or film festival screening dates, etc.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006
Santa Croce screening
Terry picked me up and we headed up to AFI for the 8-9pm reception. Santa Frank was on hand, though the dream-sequence in which he is prominently featured got cut, but was retained as Bonus Features for our DVD copies.
When she arrived, everyone saying hello to her, relayed to young Allisyn Ashley Arm about seeing her every ten minutes on her then-current T-Mobile commercial.
My friend David Schroeder and I had been pondering if he'd be in the film at all. It was his big scene that was reshot, and he wasn't available for the reshoot, while I was. The final version still shows Dave, and his lines are used for the original shot scene, simply done as being off-screen. I didn't see David afterwards, and I learned later he had just departed right away.
As for the film, I love it when I see a project on which I've worked being Well Worth The Wait. Powerful, poignant, and well paced The casting was wonderful, the cinematography and the look of the film was very high-end, major motion picture quality.
Gavin and Ben Dalley told me it would screen again at the Arclight, in January.

Sunday May 16, 2010
Memo missed
A few days earlier I received from SAG what seemed to be checks for Santa Croce residuals. I looked up the Santa Croce imdb entry and via imdbPRO, learned the short actually acquired (worldwide) DVD distribution as it were, via Dark Matter DVDs and apparently Shorts International out of England.

Geoffrey Gould imdb entry
Santa Croce
IMDB entry
Geoffrey Gould as the Deputy Sheriff in ''Santa Croce''
Geoffrey Gould as the
Deputy Sheriff in Santa Croce
With writer/director Gavin Heffernan, Geoffrey Gould as the Deputy Sheriff in ''Santa Croce''
With writer/director Gavin Heffernan and
pug Mushu who played Xul, Geoffrey Gould
as the Deputy Sheriff in Santa Croce.

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