Friday, June 09, 2006
I just acted in a Documentary film being shot for the History Channel. The name of the film is ‘Aftershock’. It’s about the chaos of the post Civil War period. I’m calling it more of the untold stories of that time. Aftershock is being made by Limulus Productions of Arlington, Massachusetts and directed by David Padrusch.
I landed the part of a lowly field hand …backstory -ex slave still living almost in slavery. In the scene Amos Black played by Tim Weske kills one of the farm hands and then threatens the others. Sadly, it’s a true story.
So I went out Sutton, Massachusetts which is about fifty miles from Boston. I arrived on the set, signed in, and went straight to wardrobe. I was dressed in a long black skirt, apron and man’s shirt! I then headed to make-up and this was no glam job. They actually put dirt make-up on me! I then headed to the set where they were filming which turned out to be a soggy field. Once there actors were assigned various farm implements. I ended up with a pitchfork, which turned out to be quite good for tilling the soggy land. The soil was dark and full of bugs and huge earthworms.
There a huge horse called Barney, he looked like a Clydesdale. He was being controlled by a white guy dressed in period clothing. Yeah we were back in 1866 alright. So the scene was blocked and we started filming. We all had to take off our shoes. The soil was soggy and I’m sure I sank at least six inches in it. Thank God I had put some bug spray on my feet before I went to the set.
David moved us around several times. I had to control my farming skills picked up from my days in Tanzania. We would spend the whole day farming with just a hoe. No tractor, no nothing. So the farming part was quite easy, in fact the other cast were teasing me that I was capable of farming the whole farm.
During one of the takes, something stung my foot and I couldn’t look back till David said, Cut. By then I had to ask for first aid. A paramedic on the set came and assisted me. First he had to wash the mud off with bottled spring water. Then he applied ice to help reduce swelling. Luckily it wasn’t too bad and I was able to continue although as I write this my foot is still irritated.
So we shot and an actor named Claude, kept having to fall after being hit by Amos Black. Amos then shoots him in the chest and the rest of us are so intimidated that we keep on working. I guess you would too if the boss cocked his shotgun at you. Amos shoots, spits, stands over the body like he just killed an animal! I think I turned numb with the thought that this really happened.
After shooting all that we moved to another angle and then Amos Black had to recite his nasty lines which included the n-word! When he was saying that all I could say was thank god we were just acting. But I thought of our ancestors who had to endure that harsh life, in the days of slavery. We were dirty all over and I imagined how awful it must have been back then without modern day conveniences. I felt awful, I felt dirty and filthy! But I kept saying to myself at the end of the day I can go home and soak in the tub, wash my clothes in a washing machine etc. What did those poor people have back then? Human beings are truly resilient.
After we finished shooting that scene we broke for lunch. I swear we did 100 takes. Tim came over and shook hands and hugged everyone one off us and apologized. We told him, that we knew he was just acting and had no grudges. We also told him the line wasn’t really a shock to us because it was used in the auditions. He said, he was wondering why people didn’t look surprised.
I felt terrible and quickly took off my costume I was going to leave until another actor told me we were still needed. So I waited until the next scene and put the dirty costume back on. This time, we got bloodied up because we were massacred. Some of the costumes were borrowed from re-enactors and they had to be careful with them. I had the luck of wearing a costume that could be dirtied and had a lot of fake blood poured on me. For this scene we had to lie on the soggy forest floor. They gave us lots of Bug Spray (OFF could use that for a commercial) and the EMT’s checked for poison ivy. We had to hold our breath and play dead.
After we were done and all the African American actors were released. I changed back to my 2006 clothes and tried to take as much of the dirt make up and fake blood off. One of the actors, Frank Shefton, told me that the other day he did a scene with the fake blood. He didn’t get it all off his face and on the way home he stopped at 7-11 and the clerk almost freaked out! Yeah that fake blood looked real and felt real. In fact, when the same EMT who assisted me earlier saw me with it he gasped.
Overall, what an experience! I’ll inform you when the film will be playing in the History Channel.