My Film Adventure

Standing in for actors: Cody and Dora. 
Okie dokes... the time has come for me to tell you about my five weeks spent in San Antonio, Texas. Sorry, it's taken me so freaking long to write this all out. 

So, yes, I spent 5 weeks in Texas working on a film. Yes, a real film. People always ask me this and I find it weird. "Um, no," I sometimes think about saying, "I actually worked on a fake film." I think they mean like... will it appear in theaters because obviously that's what makes a film "real."

Now, I bet you are sitting there reading this, drumming your fingers against some sort of surface and thinking: Now how in the holy goat balls did she get that gig? Now, maybe those weren't your exact thoughts, but it was something close I'm sure. 

And you know what? That's a great question. 

Here's how it started...

Well, first of all I need to tell you something. I am half dolphin (Just kidding... I don't know why I wrote that. It just sort of popped out.). No, but seriously now... I love movies. I love, love, love them. I've always been in love with different types of art forms, but film is such a unique medium that differs so much from everything else. I love telling stories and I love to think. Hey, guess what? Films allow us to do that. Well, most films allow us to think. Director Christopher Nolan definitely makes us think with his films. 

Anyhow, where the heck am I going with this? Hmmm, oh yes! I remember. I love films. Hahaha. Is that all I really wanted to say? Geez. 

So, yes, I love films. (I am so freaking redundant.) Ever since I was little my Dad has always taken my little brother (who is now much, much, MUCH taller than me) and I to the movies. We all three love going to the movie theater. We always seem to talk about films, too. 

I used to make home videos quite a bit when I was younger. I didn't have any editing tools other than just hitting the "record" button on and off. When I wanted music I literally just put headphones around my video camera and hit play on my ipod or on the radio. It was quite the juggle at times, but I made it work. It's crazy the technology that was available to me, but I never knew about it. 
Don't let that cute face fool you!

I made this infamous film about my American Girl Doll who ends up killing my brother (quite violently too...hahaha). I remember showing this to friends and family. One of our friends was sort of down that day and after watching the movie she was bursting with laughter. I loved how I could change someone's emotions. It was like a super power almost. Hahaha. At least, that's how I thought of it anyway when I was younger. 

In High School, during my freshman year, I had to do this project about the journey of the sperm to the egg (I know, exciting stuff...) and I mean we watched the journey of the sperm in this video and it was so DANG boring. I mean, first of all, the person's voice just annoyed the hell out of me. It's the freaking  MIRACLE OF LIFE so you got to bring at least a small measure of LIFE to your voice! And why couldn't they add some interesting music during the ejaculation? I mean, that is one hell of an interesting part of the journey and yet I almost fell asleep. Like instead of listening to the watery sounds of tadpoles being squeezed out a tube why couldn't we hear the Bugle Call. You know, the song they play before a horse race? That's what I would have done. 

So here were my choices, either A.) Write a story about the journey of the sperm to the egg and then read it aloud to the class (of highly immature 14 and 15-year-olds), B.) Draw a comic strip of the journey of the sperm to the egg and then present it to the class (of highly immature 14 and 15-year-olds), or C.) Make an APPROPRIATE movie about the journey of the sperm to the egg an then present  it to the class (of... you already know what belongs here). 

I, of course, chose to make a movie and since I was already thinking along the lines of a horse race that's what I would do for my movie! I already had my actors. I decided that I was going to shoot my film with two horses. They would both be sperms racing for the egg (aka: the barn). I thought it was a brilliant idea. My poor friends, Kelsey Popovich and Soliel Bolduc, agreed to dress up in the shirts I made them (one had an X on it and one had a Y on it) and had to ride around my neighborhood. It was a huge success and I loved expressing my creative mind through film. My class LOVED it. They were laughing out loud at several points in the film. I loved that I could educate people and also make them laugh. 

For a long time I wanted to be a movie director, but as my spine conditions worsened I got more involved with writing and ended up writing a novel. My brother, however, traded spots with me and ended up becoming more of the director, while I wrote. And this time he made ME die in his films. It's quite fun though, actually. I normally blow up at the end of everything, like this one for instance: 

We also won a contest through Oregon Driver's Education Center for a video we made. We won $200.00 and now every kid, they told me, who goes through ODEC has to watch my video. Great... here it is.

Drew ended up filming more and more films and each one got SO much better than the last. For example look at this one in comparison to the last. 
Big difference right? And now he gets paid by YouTube. Pretty sweet if you ask me. 

Ok, so now that you have a little bit of background about our love for film you probably want me to answer that dang question now: How did we get involved with a "real" film?

Ok. Ok. Ok. 
I'll tell you. 

Well, it just so happens that I live right next door to a executive producer. (I know...crazy, right?) Jim Plant. 

Well, here is what happened. Two years ago he produced an independent film called "Angel Dog" formerly titled "Cooper."Angel Dog (2011) IMDb
Delaney Plant on the set of "Angel Dog"

Jim brought his 14 year-old-daughter, Delaney Plant, along with him to San Antonio, Texas and she got to help work on the film (script supervisor). I was so jealous/excited for her. Well, during that project she showed Kevin Nations (the cinematographer of that film/ and director, Robin Nation's husband) my brother's YouTube Channel. Drew's YouTube Channel
Well, like a year later, my mom and I were in Italy and we get a phone call from Jim Plant. He said that he was in his office in San Antonio and Kevin Nations came up to him and said this: "I have two words for you: Andrew Yancey."

So, it was decided Drew and Delaney were going away for the summer to make a film. Again, I was extremely jealous and yet SUPER excited for them. 

Well, before my brother could go, my momma really wanted to meet Kevin and Robin Nations before she allowed him to stay with them for 5 weeks. During their conversation over dinner I inevitably came up because I am, indeed, her first born and take up some portion of her life. They heard that I love writing books and adore films just as much as Drew does, so they asked if I would like to tag along as well because they definitely had stuff for me to do too. Well, my mom didn't want to say yes right away because she wanted to ask Drew if it was alright first. He amazingly said YES! What a freaking awesome brother I have! So I GOT TO GO TOO!!!!

So next I, of course, proceeded with my happy dance...

Hmm, what the heck should I talk about next...???

Oooh, I know! The basics. You probably want to know the basics.

Ok, the basics--here they are. What is the film called?
The film is (as of now) called "Champion."

What is it about?
It is a family film about a girl who stays with her grandpa over the summer, gets some discipline, bonds with his dog, and helps save his farm.

Who is in it?
Well, IMBd can tell you this (Champion IMDb page), but I will write it down for you anyhow:
Billy: Lance Henrikson 
Madison: Dora Madison Burge
Eli: Cody Linley
Faith: Farah White
Anita: Reis Myers McCormick 
Zoey: Miranda Money
Annie: Kate Krause
Agility Coordinator: Katsy Joiner
Mr. Mean: Jeff Fenter

Directors: Robin and Kevin Nations
Writers: Robin Nations and Richard Dane Scott

Cast and Crew of CHAMPION! 

Where was it shot?
San Antonio, Texas.

Ok, there you have it. The basics.
Moving on...
But what to???

Ok, now I will list things off that come to my mind and discuss. This is going to be a long list...

1.) TEXAS:
I have a confession to make: Texas kind of scared me. On several levels, actually. First, it was super hot and humid there, not at all what I was used to in the cool, green, wet land of Oregon. And second, the bugs and other various creatures made sleeping difficult at night (for ex: wild pigs who eat baby deer). People weren't kidding when they said: Everything is bigger in Texas. Let's examine this shall we.
Exhibit A: GIANT grasshopper. 

Exhibit B: In which case my brother wants to die. 
The roads also scared me too, but we will get to that later.
Now, I know that the Texans will probably get mad at me for saying those things, but hey... I wasn't used to the heat or the bugs or the carnivorous piggies. What can I say? I was scared. But let's move on to what I DID enjoy in Texas. 
Yes, this is a movie theater. 
  1. Texans say "ya'll" and guess what, for some odd reason, I really enjoyed hearing that. 
  2. Texans are unique. 
    Exhibit C: I want this waffle maker. 
    Exhibit D: Um... ewe. 
  3. Texas has the best breakfast burritos EVER! (And I hate breakfast burritos.)
  4. San Antonio has this awesome IMAX theater called the Palladium. That's where I saw THE DARK KNIGHT RISES. 
  5. Texas has some spectacularly shaped clouds. Like the clouds on Andy's wallpaper. 
  6. These clouds.
  7. The Moon, for some reason, looks bigger and far more epic in Texas. 
  8. San Antonio had a lot of different restaurants. 
  9. Texas has delicious barbecue! 
  10. Down town San Antonio is beautiful! 
  11. They have the best thunder and lightning storms. I LOVE thunder and lightning! 
2.) The Nations: 
Drew, Delaney, and I stayed at the Nations house during this trip. We either stayed the night at their house or at the bunkhouse on Land Heritage Institute (which I will talk about later). 
Now, the Nations are amazing! Robin and Kevin are such cool, down to earth, kind, awesome, hilarious people and I'm not just saying that because I know they'll be reading this blog. I love how they are both so absorbed in films and the art of filmmaking. Now, I love my parents to death, but I get a little annoyed with the constant plane talk. So, it was certainly nice to hang out with this couple who talked non-stop with us about films. 
One thing I can tell you about Robin and Kevin...
A.) Kevin is obsessed with back to the future. 
B.) Robin LOVES doggies.
We became a family. (Remi went missing in this photo.)

3.) What did I personally help with on the film?
That is a great question. Well, my title was a "Production Assistant" and I basically did anything they needed me to do. Here is a list of everything I did on the set of "Champion."
  1. Supplied food and drinks for the cast and crew. 
  2. Sometimes drove actors to and from set from HQ, which was down the road from the actual set. 
  3. Drove one of the actresses to her hotel. That was an interesting night since she didn't exactly have directions for me. 
  4. Basically drove A LOT to do errands, things like getting ice. I went on a lot of ice calls. I also had to pick up a sandwich from Subway for Mr. Lance Henrikson. 
  5. Was a stand in for the actors. This meant that while the crew was getting the cameras set up I stood in where one of the actors was going to be to make sure the camera was ready and focused before they got there.  
  6. I helped dress many of the sets. 
  7. I helped out with continuity. Erin Gray was the script supervisor, so she focused on EVERYTHING continuity-wise and I would help her out by filming (with her iPad) exactly what the cameras were filming and then go back to make sure... like for example the dog's leash was still in the left hand in the next shot since it was in the left hand in the last shot. Things had to be consistent, which you'd think is an easy thing to do, but it's not. Many of the scenes are shot out of order, like on different days and you literally have to keep track of everything: what a person was wearing (clothes, jewelry, make-up, hair, etc.), what the set looked like, the weather, the time of day (the lighting has a big affect on this). 
  8. One day we had horses on set and there was only one trainer with two horses that needed to be warmed up for the actors. We also had to make sure that the cows would behave around them. Luckily I was there because I know horses! So, I got to ride a horse around the cattle and give the actors advice on how to handle the horses. I got to play horse-whisperer! Haha. 
  9. I'm a clearly visible extra in the film. I can't wait for you to spot me in it. 
  10. I helped out with some sound stuff. At the end of shooting, I helped the sound guy, Allen, out with some sounds. He recorded me running around on the grass in some cowboy boots. I walked across the gravel, walked up stairs, opened and closed a door. These sounds might go into the film! The actor may be walking, but it might be my footsteps that you hear! How cool is that? Hahaha. It cracks me up.
Dora and I with the horses.

Derek took this with his phone I think. 
Early in the morning. Waiting for actors...
My #1 Fan right here. :)

The Usual Champion Suspects.

4.) The Humane Society People...
So on every set involving animals you have a person who makes sure that the animals are being taken care of. I'm sure everyone reading this blog has read the "No animals were harmed during the making of this film" caption at the end of a film. Well, when they say that...they REALLY mean that. You see, during the making of "Champion" there were a butt-load of mosquitos and I don't really like these awful blood-suckers, I mean, who the heck does? (I'll tell you who in just a second!) My general response toward a mosquito is to smack it, kill it. BUT I couldn't do this around one the Humane Society Representatives. Know why? Because a mosquito is considered an animal and if we killed them we would be harming animals during the making of are film. 
I know, I bet your jaws are dropping, just reading this. My mouth dropped open, too, when I heard this.  This was especially annoying knowing that the West Nile virus has been a big problem in Texas.
But yeah, that was the icky part of having these two representatives on set. The COOL part, however, was asking them questions about other films they had worked on. I asked them TONS of questions. I asked them about what sorts of animals they had worked with and actors too! The lady working the first half of the film had worked with Zach Galifinakis (sp?) and Robert Downey Jr. on "Due Date" because there is a dog in that film and she said that RDJ is very nice, which was SUPER cool to hear. She also worked with an elephant, which got me super excited. She also told me that she met a dog who was trained to hold his breath in a death scene; she was creeped out because she wondered how exactly you trained a dog to do that.
I even learned how animals first got representation in films too. You see, around 70 years ago (I think) there was this film where these horses ran off a cliff and in real life they were running horses off a cliff and killing them. Yeah. Horrible stuff. The actors on that film thought it was horrible as well and demanded that animals get protection when making films. Now, when a person goes through training to be a Humane Society Representative person they HAVE to watch this film.
I thought that was really interesting.

Night of Doom: 
This was totally me...
I really need to get this portion of the story over with now. (You may skip it if you wish. Reader's discretion is advised.)
So one of the nights we had spaghetti and I ate it and all was fine... at first. We had a night shoot and as the crew was setting up the cameras I started having gas... big time. Like stomach cramps and loud farts, it was awful, especially when I was video-taping Cody with the iPad for continuity. I kept looking down at my stomach, thinking: Hold your crap together! NOW is NOT the time to have problems!
After the shoot I heard that a couple people had thrown up and I was like: Uh-oh.
I wasn't feeling too hot either.
When I went into the bunk house some of the crew member's kids were eyeing me and then asked me: Are you a zombie? We heard the virus is spreading.
This cracked me up and then I said: Well, I don't think so, but I'm not feeling good. And I'm... I'm...
Kids: You're what?
Me: I'm kinda hungry for flesh.
Kids eyes widen and they ran out the door.
But seriously now... later that night I remember we were about to go to bed and Drew came over to the girls side of the bunk house and said: You look like you're going to vomit.
And that's just what I did.
I sprinted for the bathroom and hurled and hurled and hurled.
The last time I threw up was 2 years ago at Stanford's Children Hospital.
Let me tell you something: I HATE throwing up. I could never take up a bulimic lifestyle.
Later that night Delaney started hurling. We were both running back and forth to the bathroom hurling our guts out. And the worst part of it was that soon there was nothing left in our stomachs and we started dry heaving. So we started drinking lots of water and gatorade to put something in our stomachs so that we could eventually heave it back up.
As Steve would say: Fun times.
And then something even more awful happened. I got the hershey squirts too.
Let's just say, I had a "Bride's Maids" moment. It was terrible.
Afterwards, I started balling, thinking: This is the lowest moment of my life.
Later Delaney and I called our mommies (mine was in London! WAY TOO FAR at a time like this.) and cried to them.
Then at around 4am-ish I heard that Drew was awake and throwing up too. It was a disastrous night. Luckily it was just me and Delaney on the girls side, that way we didn't disturb anyone.

What did we do on our time off? Watched movies!!!
So on our time off, other than dressing sets, we went to the movie theatre. We saw "The Amazing Spiderman" with Mr. Andrew Garfield...*sigh.* We also saw "The Dark Knight Rises" and "Moonrise Kingdom."
I got to see "The Dark Knight Rises" twice and the second time I saw it was actually terrifying and I'll tell you why. I went with my friends: Karli, Steve, and Derek. This was the day after the NIGHT OF DOOM. Drew and Delaney, unfortunately, were still sick.
Ok, so you all know what happened in Colorado during the midnight release of TDKR... that really awful shooting. Well, honestly, it's tough watching that movie in a big IMAX theatre, knowing what happened in Colorado, especially with the extremely loud gunshots. So, during the film someone went to exit door of the theatre and just held it open for a while. Everyone's heads turned in their direction and the tension in the room was palpable. Someone shouted: SHUT THE DOOR! Security ended up coming into our theatre for the remainder of the movie. And here's the thing, we were in the first row after the handicap section and the first first rows of the theatre and we only had a railing to hide behind. I, honestly, started freaking out! Every time someone walked in front of us I panicked. And I don't like panicking during a film. Films should be fun. You shouldn't be fearing for you life during a film. Geeeeeeeeeez...

One of the best parts about making this film was all the friends I made. We really became a family. I mean, I was with these people for 12 + hours a day for a month. That's more time spent with than most good friends I see during a school year.
After filming, we'd do stuff like go swimming at Derek's house (We had an intense water volleyball tournament there. TEAM USA!), watched the olympics, runs to Sonic (love those Lemon slushies!) went out to the movies, went out to eat, and my favorite... went to Main Event.
Ok, so Main Event is SUCH A COOL place and we seriously need one of these in Oregon. So, basically there is laser tag, an arcade, a bowling alley, and a ropes corse all in one place. I won at bowling, which hardly ever happens, so obviously this made me very excited. Also, Ryan (the film's light guy and who is also super cool and hilarious) and I came up with a good idea. We decided to have everyone pair up with someone and quickly pose in the photo booth. It was awesome!
Aubrie and I.


Farah White! (One of my momma-figures on the film.)

Miranda and her AWESOME momma!

We're strange... and we KNOW it. 

Lance stylin' in Dave's sunglasses! :)

Cody and I.

These are DEFINITELY my friends!!! 

Doesn't matter if we're stationary... we WILL crash! 

My productive face...

Amanda and Amanda. 

Pool party at Derek's! 



The Grays and Yanceys

My best pal: STEVE!

My response after Cameron told me he HATED the Hunger Games. 

Me creeping in the background. 




Ally, Aubrie, and Karli! 

Dora, Me, and Cody. 


Ropes corse!

Ryan and I. 

My face when Drew directs me...

ALLY! (Aka: Hello Kitty Lover.)

Oregonian stare down. 

Pulling weeds. 

And then she bit my leg afterwards... 

Yancey kids getting in the way. 

Big John: 
Ok, so there's a whole lot I can write about the Big John other than A.) It was a port-a-potty, B.) It sat out directly in the sun, melting our combined feces, C.) I sweated a lot in there, and D.) Whenever I had to go code yellow I'd say: Excuse me a moment folks, I have a date with Big John.

Creepy House: 
Yes, the house we worked in was, indeed, quite creepy. The floor wasn't level. There were no lights. There was this SUPER creepy attic. Upstairs there was this tub that was flipped over on it's side and I didn't go in to check to see if there was a skeleton lying in it.
But even though the house was super creepy, it was also super cool. I mean, that's why the Nations picked it out. It has an awesome porch with a rocking chair that I enjoyed rocking in.
And that's about it. Haha.

Drew and I were mistaken as twins: 
So, I know I look young for my age. For example, on my twentieth birthday, my mom asked the waitress how old she thought I was turning that year and she replied with: At least 15.
My brother on the other hand either looks his age or older than his age. I remember Robin telling me that she thought he was 21 and that she thought I was one of Delaney's friends, so I must have been around 16. Anyhow, I thought it was funny that some people thought Drew and I were twins. I even messed around with some people, saying that we were, in fact, twins. Or sometimes Drew and I would pretend that he was older than me.

Quotes of the Day: 
Everyday on set, we would pick out the quote of the day and all my quotes that made it into the Quote of the Day were all butt or fart related. Fabulous, right?
One day we were all talking and I think someone said something like: Girls don't fart. And I thought this was a terribly sexist thing to say, so, of course, I responded with this: Oh, I fart. I fart big time.
I also said "If you're missing something, it's probably under my butt" since I was sitting on Dave's (the assistant director) iPad.

Here were some of my favorite quotes I collected on my own.

Farah White: What's her nuts?

Cody Linley: Happiness is your birthright.

Derek Dubois: Olive garden treats you like family.
Steve Julotai: No they don't. I worked there and they hated me.

Steve Julotai: It's so chilly in here, I feel like a York Mint.

Sweaty, Sweaty, Sweaty: 
Ok, so like I said before: Texas was REALLY hot! I drank tons and tons of water, which makes this next part I have to say very interesting. I was sweating SO much that I only had to go pee twice one day. The tough part about being part of the crew as opposed to the cast is that you have to haul all this gear out in the hot sun and wait afterwards for the talent to arrive. I remember on that particularly hot day, I was dying and the cast was taking a while to come out and once they finally did... one of them said: Man it's hot.
And the whole time I was thinking: Yeah, no sh*t it's hot!

Voice Over Acting: 
While setting up the cameras and such, Darren, the director of photography, told me I should get into voice over acting. I was goofing around and thought he was joking since I'm not a huge fan of my voice. I thought he was making fun of my voice, but he wasn't. And the funny thing is that my parents have been nudging me in that direction for a while now. So, I have researched a place and sent a demo tape in and I will tell you more about that once I know more. I could do cartoon voices, audiobooks, commercials... so many possibilities!

Loved Watching the Acting:
The best part about this film was watching the actors. I got to watch each performance. I loved seeing how these great actors prepared... like for instance these two grandparents in the film are split up, but you don't know why they are split up, so Lance and Reis discussed why this was. I thought that was so interesting. Also, Dora does such a fantastic job at improving. When you're working with animals on a film sometimes they don't do what you want them to at that particular moment, so sometimes you need to improvise and she did a brilliant job with that. Also, Lance slipped a few lines in there that I can't wait to see in the film.
One of the hardest parts for me to watch was when they gave this great performance, but accidentally stepped out of frame or something else went wrong... like an airplane flew by, a train, or the cicadas started buzzing (this happened a TON btw!).

Overall, this was one of the coolest experiences ever! I will forever be grateful for this incredible opportunity I had. I love all the cast and crew! And it's good to know that I actually love what I think I love. Does that make sense? Like a person may think they'd love to be a lawyer, but once they do it they hate it; well, I actually love what I love, which is, well, awesome!

I definitely want to work on more films. When I move up to Portland in January, I am going to work on getting more Production Assistant positions as well as work on that voice over thing. I am also still working on getting my book published and, hopefully, one day, that will be made into a movie as well.

Well, that was an extremely LONG blog post that took months to finish!
I hope you enjoyed it.



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