A good thriller tends to have a few twists toward the third act to keep the audience on their toes. My work on M. Night Shyamalan’s latest film, “Lady in the Water,” exhibited these very signs. I was thankful to have learned about my future trade while on a big-budget set, so after three days, I was satisfied. And that was when the phone call from the casting agency came in. Would I be available for another day or two of shooting? After weighing out the loss of sleep, the lack of time with friends and the potential problems with studying, I accepted.
Sadly enough, the last two days of shooting consisted of very little actual work. Day four involved only three shots. With the band SilverTide onstage, a group of 60 extras were pushed into one of the “party rooms” of the fake hotel set constructed in Levittown for the shoot. Outside, the camera crew and Shyamalan set up a shot looking “in” at the party. Meanwhile, I mingled with my sweating colleagues.
Day Four would be a part of a “distraction” moment, as everyone in the room was instructed to avoid looking out the window. Of course, I couldn’t resist doing at least once. Apparently I wasn’t the only one, as we were told again after the first take not to look out the window.
Surprisingly, only about 100 extras of the over 300-person crowd were hired back for Day Four, which meant for better accommodations (translation – the food did not fly off the table). This also resulted in a faster wrap time, and I was finished by two in the morning.
Day Five was a bittersweet moment. Arriving on set, I was greeted by the wardrobe crew (who all knew me by name after four days), Assistant Director Keith Potter and my entire bunch of acting chums. Tom returned after missing Day Four. Lou and Chris were back for more action. Even our friend Kristy (who had gotten a cold from our first day of shooting, despite our best efforts to keep her warm) was back.
For Day Five, the last day of shooting the party, all 300 extras were back. Shyamalan took his time in setting up each of the last three shots, which involved simple pans over the crowd. I was not involved in any of these, but I watched with a feeling of nostalgic sadness. Even as the shooting was occurring, I knew that in two weeks, the deconstruction of the set would begin. This mock hotel would be nothing more than a pile of garbage in Levittown, a mere memory.
“Lady in the Water” wrapped a week after my last day of work on the production. Rumors of a massive water tank flew on the Internet, and a lawsuit was threatened after a few pictures leaked. No, I was not the culprit. Currently in post-production, the trailer will be playing with select prints of “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.”
My friend Chris can next be seen as an extra in the James Franco military flick “Annapolis” and is presently working on another indie picture as a volunteer.
Lou is developing a martial arts script for (hopefully) eventual production.
Potter has returned to the West Coast and is looking to become officially attached to the new John Sayles movie.
Paul Giamatti has a slew of projects on the slate including the animated movie called “Ant Bully” (with Julia Roberts and Nicholas Cage) and “The Illusionist” with Ed Norton and Jessica Biel.
Bryce Dallas Howard is already starring in the historical drama, “Mary Queen of Scots,” as the title character.
Keep an eye out for Freddy Rodriguez in the big-name drama “Bobby,” starring Demi Moore, Elijah Wood, Meryl Streep and Anthony Hopkins.
As for the puppetmaster himself, Mr. Shyamalan? Who knows. The man who has created his own mystique in film has not announced his next project, which will likely be kept as much of a secret as “Lady.”
“Lady in the Water” is set to debut in theaters in June.