written by Charis Joy Jackson
Film is hard work. Filled with long days, working under immense pressure & seeing impossible situations become possible.
Working with The Initiative Production Company, I get to be a part of this craziness on a daily basis. We’ve been producing short films and features since 2008. It started off with only four of us, crazy enough to dream of a grassroots company where we could create great, independent film.
Our first endevour into feature filmmaking was The Umbrella. The story follows Jared Evans who when faced with uncomfortable situations hides beneath an imaginary umbrella.
The Umbrella had it’s US release in August on Flix Premiere, and it’s UK premiere this past week 6TH OF OCTOBER, I wanted to tell a little known story from working on this film…
It was a Thursday night and the next morning was our biggest re-shoots yet. There was only one problem; our actress for the shoot had cut her hair! During principal photography she had flowing, shoulder length, golden hair. Now, she looked like Tinker Bell; cute as ever, but a big problem for continuity.
And I was in charge of hair and makeup. Oh dear.
Solution? Go to the nearest mall & search for hair extensions, or one of those clips with a fake bun. Not the greatest idea, but hey, it could work… right?
It was already 5:30PM, which in Australia meant, the stores were already closing for the day. The director was talking seriously about cancelling Friday’s shoot. Not willing to give up yet, I wrangled fellow crew member Jonathan Proby (or as we call him, Proby), and we ran to the nearest mall.
All the while, I was praying the stores wouldn’t be closed yet.
Because there’s no excuses in filmmaking.
It HAD to work. I didn’t want to let the director down.
At the first store we talked to one of the ladies working there. I explained the situation and she cringed. She showed us a few extention options, but all were in the triple digits and we had little to no budget for this.
Ultimately, she told us nothing would work, because our actresses’ hair was way too short to support any extensions. I suppressed the knot growing in my throat, thanked her kindly, & left.
Hearing that there was no solution really dampened my spirits, and I was ready to give up. Everything was closing anyway, but one look from Proby, who was still rearing to go and I pulled up my bootstraps and pressed on.
We entered another store & found something similar but it still didn’t work; the color was wrong, and it was still too expensive.
At this point, I wondered if what we needed, especially at the price we needed it at even existed. I kept repeating this phrase like a mantra, “There are no excuses in filmmaking.”
We headed to the dollar store, hoping against hope we’d find something there. But our hopes were again dashed and my hair was becoming frazzled from worry. Think Hermoine Granger.
I was desperate now; more stores were closing for the night & we were running out of options.
In a last ditch effort, we decided to try the salons. Time was short, so we split up. I headed to the nearest salon and Proby headed to one down the way.
When I arrived at the salon, no one was at the counter & I had to tell myself to remain calm. Life as I knew it was not over yet. A kind lady approached the counter & asked if she could help me. I smiled,
“I have a really bizarre question for you.”
“Oh good, I love those,” she said.
I sighed and then launched into my story. All the while wondering how I was going to get what I needed, especially at a price I could work with.
The lady smiled as I continued to babble incoherently, then excused herself & said she may have a solution. Leaving the counter, she headed to the back of the salon. By this time, Proby had come back from the other salon with no luck.
I silently pleaded with God for some kind of miracle; we were out of time.
The lady came back to the counter with a box overflowing with wigs of red, black, gold & brown. They were doll wigs. “I have no use for these.” she said, “Maybe they could help.”
I took one & looked at it, while she got out a plastic bag & began piling as many as she could inside. She kept telling me how happy she was someone could get some use out of them. She dug in the box for all the blonde wigs & once satisfied she’d given me all of them, threw a few more red, black & brown wigs into the bag.
I started freaking out again. How much was she going to charge me?
Then she handed me the overflowing bag – free of charge!
I was speechless. She was going to give it to me for free? A total stranger? I was speechless.
I thanked the lady profusely before making a mad dash back to the office where I gathered my unsuspecting co-worker, Zakk, to be my model as I fiddled with the wigs.
Honestly, I had no idea how we were going to make it work, the wigs were still too small for a human head. But there are no excuses in filmmaking, so I kept pressing forward. Afterall, we were given the wigs for free, it had to end well, right?
We were all on the edge of our seat, wondering, hoping, holding our breath to see if it was going to work.
It took a bit of creativity, but in the end I found a solution and it felt like a Christmas miracle (even though it wasn’t actually Christmas)!
This was just one crazy day in the life of making The Umbrella. One I am especially fond of, and one that’s taught me to keep pushing for the best, and loving this crazy adventure called film.
For those of you living in the US or the UK, I want to leave you with this challenge; go watch The Umbrella on Flix Premiere and see if you can figure out which scene our actress who plays the character, Aunt Helen is wearing a wig and which is her natural hair.