Monday, August 9, 2010

The Man In The Blue Shirt

There really was A Man In The Blue Shirt.
A semi-autobiographical short story about the trials and tribulations of working on movie sets.

"Will the man in the blue shirt please move back three rows. Thenk-yew."

I comply, but only after after I've said goodbye to the extremely interesting blonde I've just met and am sitting comfortably next to. We've even got a nicely rehearsed routine of leaning to whisper into each other's ears. Damn. She smiles and we promise to chat later, maybe lunchtime? I grab my jacket, my book, my cardboard folder, my pen, and the tag they gave me to exchange for a meal at lunch. I don't have my bag. I left it with the others in a locked room, watched over by security. Or so they say.

I arrive three rows back, and they direct me into the fourth seat. I say hi to the middle-aged lady I'm now sitting next to, and we smile at each other. I dump everything in my lap, put the folder on top, open it, get the pen ready, and we all wait.

"Camera!" they cry.

"Camera rolling!" they cry back.


"Sound speed!"

We tense, waiting for it.

"Background action!" they cry.

We obey, all suddenly looking deeply interested, nay, fascinated, by the presentation we're supposed to be watching. Some pretend to be making notes on non-existent notepads in their laps, others nod wisely and turn to each other to agree.

"And ... action!" they cry, and it is so. The real pros swing into their foreground parts, and we are out of focus and entirely invisible in the background. Unless someone looks at the camera. One of the cardinal rules one NEVER breaks, is to look at the camera. There's something very distracting for an audience about a pair of eyes staring right back at you, even if they are out of focus. But we too are professionals- albeit unsung- so we all invisibly act our hearts out, and none of us looks at the camera.

I happen to glance at the lady sitting next to me at the exact moment she looks at me. We both start to turn away, but we both know the truth. We're both caught looking, and we both know it. And the camera is rolling. It's being recorded! We stare at each other in horror from the corners of our eyes with false smiles plastered on our faces. Damn! We didn't rehearse this! We both desperately jack the smiles up into painful grins of friendliness, and nod stiffly at each other like Prussian generals. She starts to pretend to say something, but I'm turning away, and so does she, and so she tries to stop speaking. Instead she mumbles out of the corner of her mouth like a 30's mobster after a stroke. We both stare at camera with the whites of our eyes showing, rictus grimaces of sheer despair on our faces.

"Cut!" they cry, and everything stops. Everyone breathes a small, but heartfelt sigh of relief.

"Will the man in the blue shirt please stop staring at camera!" they cry.

"Um, sorry..." I slide down in my seat and try to hide.

Copyright © 2008 Jon Plowman


  1. In a different time, and on a different set, I turn to look at the lady a few rows over at exactly the same time as she turns to look at me.


    But then I think, "Wait! That's no lady! I read about her on kittentumour! Slutty bitch must make a habit out of doing this shit."

    "Awesome," I think. "I'm getting laid tonight."

  2. Of course, it helps if you have a thing for middle-aged ladies 8-)