Production: Children and Animals!
Update: Children and Animals!
We always begin with the following disclaimer: It is impossible for you to know less about filmmaking than what we knew when we began the Salted Christmas journey. This series of articles is not designed to teach anyone in the industry anything. The series is simply intended to share with our friends some of what we’ve learned about the art, the skill, and the business of filmmaking.
Filmmaking is just a bag full of problems which come in many different shapes and sizes. Children and animals pose particularly interesting challenges due to their inherent unpredictability. But on the other hand, what would the film be like without those angelic childhood faces and barnyard sights and sounds!
In Salted Christmas, we really only had one child, the foster-child character “Beena” played by Sydney Vazquez. For this role, we wanted an actor young enough to play a child who was not exerting much influence on her situation but old enough to take direction. We also wanted somebody cute. The icing on the cake would be someone who could act! We didn’t hold out much hope of finding anyone that met all three of these criteria. But as usual, God’s favor covered every aspect of this production.
With production scheduled for June, we still had no actor when we attended an Easter sunrise service on the beach. Sitting on the towel in front of us with her family was Sydney. Because she is a petite human being, she appeared younger than her five years at the time of production. She also had prior acting experience and a great attitude. And of course she was as cute as could be. What shocked us was her acting.
The entire crew agrees that if she pursues acting in the future, she will undoubtedly be a star. One minute, she would be jumping on the bed (like any over-tired 5 year old) and 5 seconds later she would convincingly be asleep in the bed and waking up very slowly just like we asked. Really it was shocking. Certain people are just built for certain endeavors and this young lady is an actress! The Hollywood casting department, a wonderful asset for any film, just cannot compete with the provision of the Lord!
Salted Christmas also featured a chicken, a pig, and a dog. Any time an animal is introduced onto a set you just don’t know what will happen. For example, we had enough scenes with the chicken that she ended up laying no less than 2 eggs during different scenes! One egg appeared while the actress playing “Renata” was holding her in the dining room of the home where we were shooting. Guess what happened?!?!? SPLAT!
During the beach scene, she laid the egg on the ground so it survived (although we don’t remember what we did with it). The worst part of dealing with the chicken was just providing for it at night! It had to be transported around with cage, food, and water, protected from the heat, and kept from escaping during those times she wasn’t on a leash. Overall, she performed perfectly for us and we were greatly appreciative of her owner.
We also had a piglet (which we rented for the day for $100) and a dog (borrowed) on set and they both caused essentially no problems and performed exactly as we hoped. They each had only one scene so it was easier, but we are forced to mention that we needed the pig to run straight and then make a left turn and he did exactly what we wanted two times in a row.
Overall, we felt blessed at every turn in these extremely unpredictable situations. In no case did any of the animals cause us any difficulties and of course Sydney showed herself to be a consummate professional at ripe old age of five.