Woke up incredibly excited about filming for Elliot Loves today. I'd be playing Aunt Nani. Not the role I had auditioned for, but I was cast and I was excited!! I can finally say, yes, I was in a movie; not just any movie, but a GREAT, award winning one with a great cast! We were shooting in Queens, NY, and I had no idea what to expect, therefore I expected nothing. I had decided early on that I would show up and do whatever it took to do well and to be part of this production.
My call was 11:15am, and I was happy to arrive on time. The first person I met was Elaine Del Valle...she would be playing Aunt Carmen, the role I had originally auditioned for. I could tell immediatedly that she had that "thing" that people look for in a star - a confidence, an aura, a presence...it cannot be explained in words, but you see it, feel it immediately. So I couldn't wait to see how the shoot would go. There was an excitement in the air, and we all possessed a bit of it. More and more of the cast arrived and we all introduced ourselves...it was refreshing! Breakfast was served, and there was a relaxed feeling. There was absolutely NO ego in the room...it was as if everyone knew their own power, their own talent, but there were no assumptions that one was better than the other...and I couldn't help but think if the planet worked that way, how much could humankind accomplish?? Deep I know, lol, but it's there.
It was time for hair, make-up and wardrobe! Enter, Javier Rosa, make-up man extraordinaire! His presence was comforting to my slight anxiety because I'd already worked with him for the Stay video, and I knew we would not only look great but that the atmosphere would be a happy one! Elena Goode, playing Ma, showed up...God, she's gorgeous!! Truly. She's one of those few people in the world who just look flawless without make up! That ain't me...I need lots! Gary Terracino, the director to whom I am grateful for casting me, reminded me of my character. "Remember, Aunt Nani is a blue collar worker, she's married with two children...she knows what it's like to be intimidated by Carmen...she's always believing in people...she's the only one who's happy for Ma." Sure. Got it...no problem.
"All actors on set...I need everyone in this scene onset," Terracino exclaimed. This is it. I was nervous, but confident it would all be fine. I didn't realize that because we were filming on location inside a house in Queens that everytime we shot, the air conditioner would need to be turned off. Middle of August, just about, lol...thank God it wasn't humid. But wearing a small jacket would prove to be challenging enough. We were seated at the table, doing the kitchen scene. It was a lot of fun, I have to admit, my character reminds me of Chrissy Snow from Three's Company, not quite as ditsy, but naive. I did a lot of smiling, and I had more fun acting while being silent than doing my actual lines. Lesson #1: Acting seems to take place more so when you are silent than when you are actually speaking.
Off to prepare for the next scene. Next scene, also in the kitchen, but I like to call it "the cooking scene" because that's where the character of Carmen gets cooking. I could tell immediately that I was in the presence of well-seasoned actors. Elaine was on FIRE!! Elaine played Aunt Carmen so fantastically well, that I was in awe of her...she was real, she was funny, she was a ball of fire and I was so happy that she was cast to play her. Terracino chose PERFECTLY well!! The cast's professionalism, demeanor and just great acting was evident, and I was honored AND very humbled to be in their presence. After all, this was all new to me, movie making and whatnot. In fact, there was a moment when I was almost intimidated...who was I to be here amongst these professionals? If I had been cast 10 years ago, I doubt I would've made it through. But thanks to the experience life has thrown me in the music business, I believed in myself just enough to get me through it. You can do it, Judy, or you wouldn't have been cast in the first place! And it was at that moment, that I believed that I could do it, and although I didn't have one line in the scene, I loved it!! Every single moment, every single look, every single smile meant something...and God, just to be there - it really was a dream come true!
We took a break to set up for the next scene. I was STARVING. Wow...the time flew...It was past 2pm already. Lesson #2: If the lighting and scenery is not PERFECT, nothing gets done. Wow...takes so long to perfect the set, the lighting...I think in many ways, we took more time for that than anything else. But it has given me a newfound respect for movie-making and lighting...so important. Did I mention I was starving?? Terracino asked us to get through this scene and we would break for lunch. I don't know how many times we shot the scene but it was many, and each time everyone delivered...so cool One of the funny moments of the day was the food that we used in the scene. We were all so hungry that we all ate the food props!! Elena, who plays Ma, was wonderful & she snatced a carrot in between scenes. I had a bowl FULL of grapes and by the time we ended the scene between myself, Dalia who plays Aunt Denise, and Quentin, who plays Elliot...we ate every single grape...best grapes I ever had. We broke for lunch, and we still had another scene to shoot...we broke for lunch at 3:45pm!