After being sort of stuck in Bahia for more than half a year, I was suddenly going to Buenos Aires for several days. I quit teaching. Suddenly, life became so much more exciting.
Absolutely unexpectedly, I became a part of HBO Brazil mini TV series produced by one of Brazil’s major film production companies, 02 Filmes. I remember I was running in the rain to meet with the driver who was supposed to take me to my audition, thinking, “I hope this works out, damn it, just to make up for the fact that I had to leave home in this shitty weather.” And, let me tell you, it was definitely worth it!
How I got into this project, Destino Salvador, was due to a string of coincidences. Essentially, a new friend of mine met one of the organisers of a street festival (which I’ve blogged about earlier) some months ago, and, since she herself couldn’t volunteer there, she suggested I gave it a try. I did, it was a wonderful experience in itself, and, some months later, one of the producers of the same festival contacted me asking if she could pass my contacts to another producer who was currently looking for foreigners for a TV project). “Definitely, this is great!” was my answer as I was thinking that, c’mon, let’s be honest here, I don’t have that much happening in my life to say no to such an interesting opportunity.
So, maybe a day later, I was going to my audition through some seriously flooded areas of Salvador, wondering how that audition would go. “Would you like some cake?” was one of the first questions I got, since it was someone’s birthday or some other cake-worthy occasion that day. “Is this a test? Is this a part of my audition?” I asked, and, well, the interview didn’t feel much more (scarily) serious from then on.
Less than a week later I was told that I got in, and that I’d be playing one of the major parts in one of the episodes of that mini TV series. That was the good news. The bad news, as my (supercool!) producer told me, was that I would need to go to Argentina to get a work visa from there. “Oh well, if I really need to…” So, some weeks later, I got to see Buenos Aires and have a trip that was much fancier than what I, as a sworn backpacker, was used to. By the way, it did take me maybe four days to switch from portunhol to (somewhat) proper Spanish. And, being just so wise (I bet no one else had thought about this technique before…), I was basically just listening to Calle 13 and Fito y Fitipaldis for a week just to get back into a “Spanish mood”, as I called it.
The filming itself, I must say, was one awesome experience, for a number of reasons. One of them was a very superficial – yet very important – one. It opened up a whole new universe of (potential) jokes. In other words – it was great fun! With the microphone taped and its batteries hidden, I would always feel a bit like a spy, and, interestingly (annoying for others!), that feeling wouldn’t diminish with time. Sending ‘secret’ messages to our supercool sound guys, and saying “Message to Putin, message to Putin” in a thick Russian accent while looking around in a suspicious manner was just impossible to resist. Or, seeing there is a blue screen covering one of the windows of the apartment where we were filming, not to think that later someone could add some explosions there or, you know, a Godzilla passing by. As Gabriela (another main character and a truly cool girl!!!) and I had some swimsuit scenes, we were wondering if in post-production some CGI could be used to give us six-packs or something (or just give me a waist in general). And, of course, when cameras weren’t rolling, we would occasionally act the same scenes telenovela style, exaggerating all emotions (or, as telenovela producers would put it, making them more real). Oh, and what was absolutely irresistible (and something I felt very proud of), was asking a young string orchestra that was in several scenes of the episode to play the Game of Thrones theme song (“It’s OK, it’s still HBO, this is fine, people”).
As a part of Destino Salvador, there were two other projects being developed simultaneously: Making Of Destino Salvador and a documentary on all the foreigners playing major roles in this series. When I was told that another filming crew would sort of (in a planned way, of course) follow me for a day, this – not the filming itself – was what actually got me a bit stressed: “They want to show how my life is here? But… my life will seem so boring! Uuuuu, look at me, typing on a computer, exciting…” But then, instantly, another thought, much more calming, came: “It really doesn’t matter. The good thing is that my life seems interesting to me, I guess.” And, honestly, it has become much more interesting because of the filming itself and, well, because of some other life changes that followed later (if I fight my laziness bravely, these changes will be described in my next blog entry). But still, my life will seem quite boring in that documentary, and my ego will have to deal with this.
Another wonderful thing that came with Destino Salvador were the filming destinations themselves. I got to spend a day at one of its major theatres (and “perform” on a stage, coz my character plays the bassoon), at a nice peninsula with a pier (from which my character was supposed to jump into water, which meant I, like some important actress, needed a double, no joke), at Salvador’s Museum of Modern Art, at a beautiful convent (!), and some other areas.
And yet undoubtedly the coolest thing in this whole project and the several months it lasted were the people involved in it. From the first people I met – the executive producer, the acting coach, several others – to the director, other actors, and the whole film crew: everyone was really friendly, helpful, and easy-going. I do think that everything else I’ve just written would have been irrelevant but for those lovely people. I know my blog entry is one lousy and definitely inadequate way to thank them (you!) all, but that’s all I can do, nostalgically looking back on those fun times.
PS. This last song by Florence and The Machine has nothing to do with filming itself; I simply discovered their new album around that time and, well, felt the need to share it (coz I can).