Israel Story: In the Movies
October 20, 2008
I just helped my daughter read her lines for her Advanced Theatre class (as advanced as it gets in 8th grade, that is) which sent me back to my day in the movies. Yes, you are talking to a star of an Israeli movie.
The thrill of anticipation at possibly being discovered on this outpost of civilization in the Middle East hit the female members of the ulpan and volunteers when we found out that a scene from an Israeli movie about reserve duty would be filmed on our kibbutz. The primping promptly began.
Ulpan: a Hebrew-language immersion program. The specific ulpan that I was on was based on a kibbutz, where you studied Hebrew for half of the day and worked on the kibbutz for the other half. The main rationale behind this program was to bring young Jewish adults from around the world to Israel, have them fall in love with Israel and then either make aliyah (move to Israel permanently), or go back to their home countries and spread the word of how wonderful Israel is, and then remember their fondness for Israel when they are making money, which would cause them to donate to Israeli causes.
Volunteers: Young adults who worked on the kibbutz full-time for a small stipend, in exchange they received room and board and a chance to live in a foreign country while they pondered what they will do with their lives when they get back home. The volunteers generally came from Europe and had not attended college, and so this was part of their post-high school life before the grind set in.
Reserve duty: Israelis (boys and girls) serve in the army after high school, and then after their three years (boys) or two years (girls) of mandatory service they need to serve on an annual basis for a certain number of days every year for many years to come. This means that much of the Israeli army is composed of reservists, who generally take this duty seriously (that is those who aren’t trying to get out of it).
On the day of filming we were told to wear colors. By this time I had received my formerly lost backpack, and wore what was probably a non-descript outfit since most of my clothes were purchased to be comfortable for my year-abroad trip. We had to meet with a woman who was responsible (well, she had a clipboard) to note what each of us was wearing just in case they needed to reshoot the scene.
We then went into the club room which had been prepared for the filming, which means it was hot. Hot as in artificially hot and not like it would be hot outside under the white-hot sun of summer (which it wasn’t yet, since in the summer the Lebanon War had already started and all of these actors pretending to be reserve duty soldiers would really be reserve duty soldiers serving with their units). No, hot as in what happens to a room whose windows are blacked out with heavy curtains and lit with many very bright lights. The heat in the room alone was enough to make me know that I would never want to be in the movies.
But the inexorable boredom of the day was even worse than the heat. My God, it was a five minute scene and it took hours to film. Talk of mind-numbing. But wait, we’re getting to my moment in the klieg lights.
Out of all the Finnish, British, Irish, French, South African, New Zealander(?), and American women there the director chose me for a staring role. Yes, I was “Girl who with Candy Dish.” (No, there will be no snickering or ironic statements about giving me a candy dish to carry, at that time I was a size 8 and as you all know, able to stop strong soldiers about to board buses with my smile.) Yes, I was filmed walking across the room from where I stood to get a candy dish and back again, offering it to those reserve soldiers who had come to relax at our kibbutz. (The very premise of having mostly-married midlife reserve soldiers being entertained by twenty-something foreign women on a kibbutz is absurd and sexist, but I think it was to fit into the plot of men figuring out how their lives were going since they had been in the army as young men.) Only one take of my walk across the room was needed, so I either have a natural affinity to acting, or candy.
The day went on endlessly, as did my reading with my daughter's lines from “A Children’s Hour,” but I got through both of them. I figured that the scene would be cut, with no memento of my acting career. But I was wrong.
A few years later, when I was already married, my mother-in-law called to say that she thought she had just seen me in a movie, but that was not possible. YES! I was not cut, I had my moment preserved. Too bad my moment of fame was so insignificant, but then again, it did give me a one up on my mother-in-law and sisters-in-law, and that was not to be taken lightly in light of the fact that nothing I did was ever as good as anything her children did.
there is nothing more tedious than a movie set. (but) congratulations on not being cut.
Posted by: shaunna | October 21, 2008 at 01:47 AM
I have an affinity for candy too. The whole movie-making process is extremely tedious. I've watched filming, been to tapings, and last summer my son was an audience member of a Nickelodeon show. (Ugh.) I can't imagine doing it for a living. The taping for a half-hour TV show took five hours and we were basically locked in. (Do you remember the Tracy Ullman show?) Never again.
But, hey, you've been immortalized on film. You can add movie actor to your resume.
Posted by: JC | October 21, 2008 at 03:20 PM
Shaunna: I still haven't seen it, I don't even know the name of the movie. But I like that, it prevents me from critiquing myself or second-guessing someone else's decision. It's a little dreamscape in my mind.
JC: Did your son get slimed? When SNL was new, I saw a show, but since it was live I was not sent out on a stretcher. How is it that people in pictures are portrayed as being so interesting when, in fact, their job is incredibly tedious.
Tracy Ullman, I remember the name, but not the show.
I guess I'm not as unphotogenic as I think (or at least in those days my face doesn't look twice what it should).
Posted by: Laura of Rebellious Thoughts of a Woman | October 21, 2008 at 07:46 PM