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Open Features: Steps In The Right Direction

“Why a red umbrella and shoulder bag? Red’s not my colour, you know.”

Actresses can be so temperamental - but are they really essential to the action? Brian Lockett tells of another day's filming.

“Look,” said the director, “all you have to do is put up the umbrella, sling the bag over your shoulder and walk up the steps.”

“It looks a pretty long way,” said the young actress. “Do I have to walk up to the top?”

“No. This is the last shot and I will fade it before you get there. The credits will roll and the screen will go blank. Just keep on walking until I shout ‘Cut!’ Off you go.”

Why is it, she thought, that I always have more trouble with actresses than actors? This girl knows what she has to do. I shouldn’t have to spell it out to her now when we’re losing the light.

“It’s not raining, you know,” the girl came back. “Don’t you think it would look a bit unnatural to walk about with an umbrella over your head?”

“Don’t you worry about that, sweetie. That’s not your concern. Just position yourself at the bottom of the steps and wait for me to shout ‘Action!’”

“Why a red umbrella and shoulder bag? Red’s not my colour, you know.”

“You are being shot from behind, dear. No-one’s going to see your face. It doesn’t really matter whether red is your colour or not.”

“I was wondering … ”

The director stepped closer to her. She was breathing heavily and her fists were clenched. She looked round wildly and grabbed a dressing gown from a nearby chair.

“Right,” she said tersely. “Take this. Give me the bag and umbrella. Get that skirt, jacket and shoes off now, quick. No argument.”

The girl hesitated, looking round at the camera crew but then did as she was told. The director changed rapidly, shouldered the bag, put up the umbrella and placed her foot on the first step.

“Watch me carefully,” she said. “This is what you have to do.”

She strode upwards, turned at the top and, pausing only momentarily to get her breath back, shouted, “Got that?”

“Yes,” shouted the cameraman. “Now can we all go home?”

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