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Lights, Cameras, I Don’t Eat Pig

Posted in Uncategorized by cesco7 on April 15, 2018

Whenever I tell someone I don’t eat any pig products (mind you, this response is prompted, not the result of me interrupting strangers’ conversations on the street or getting on the subway and saying “It’s showtime! Oh, and also, I don’t consume bacon, ham or pork”) they usually ask, “Are you Jewish?” (I’m not…well, actually, I’m a quarter, but not practicing), “Are you Muslim?” (I’m not), “Are you a vegetarian?” (I’m not) or “You don’t dine on swine?” (Because Pulp Fiction).

And I completely understand why people would inquire such. After all, when someone doesn’t eat a particular thing often it’s the result of a religious, dietary or personal code. But my answer is far more simple—It’s because I made friends with a pig on a film shoot.

Back in the mid-2000s I started taking freelance jobs as a Script Supervisor for independent films, in part because as an adult if you don’t actively do something you don’t meet anyone new, in part because I love film, and in part because I had all the necessary qualifications one needs to be a Script Supervisor—OCD and a love of four-color pens. (For those who don’t know what the position entails, it’s mostly keeping track of all props, wardrobe, camera angles, line readings, dialogue changes, and actor choices to maintain continuity for each scene for the benefit of the editing process. As for the four-color pen, that helped me differentiate between “over right,” “over left,” “master shot,” and “close-up.” It also made me realize just how little written communication is done in green.)

One day I was working on my very first outdoor shoot, for a movie called Farm Girl in New York which, as you can tell by the title, is about Broadway producers. (It was also a great time working with some absolutely wonderful people, during which I learned that the job of the Assistant Director is to constantly scream at everybody so they can stay on schedule.) We were filming a dream sequence at a farm in upstate New York and as usual between takes I found it hard to talk to people (thereby negating the whole “meet anyone new” aspect), because even as late as 2007 my level of shyness was still rather acute. However, my lack of human contact was overshadowed by just how many animals I could hang out with, because shy people often gravitate to those who they know are incapable of an eye roll or saying, “Why would you do that?” And so I hung out with the horses, the ducks, the cows, and so on until during one pause in filming I met the farm’s family pig. Actually, to be more precise, I suddenly heard snorting around my ankle followed by gentle head nudging. So I bent down to pet him, only to realize 20 minutes later that the Assistant Director had been screaming at me to get back on set for the last 15 minutes.

But when I headed off the pig followed. And whenever I couldn’t pay attention to him he snorted rather loudly, which was not exactly what the sound guys wanted to hear. So during every break I would go back to the pig and pet him some more. A little later during our lunch break in the farm owner’s house, I discovered that the pig was in fact an indoor/outdoor pig, a phrase I just love typing and someday hope to build an entire TED Talk around. We were all sitting on various chairs and the floor (for an independent film there was a good-sized crew), eating sandwiches, when the pig started ambling my way. Naturally, I assumed he was coming for some food and so after double-checking to make sure my sandwich didn’t contain any ham, I broke off a piece to give to him. Instead he nudged my hand aside, placed his head on my lap, and fell asleep.

And so I don’t eat pig anymore.

FOOTNOTE TO NOTHING THAT WAS NOTED FOR HAVING A FOOTNOTE ABOVE: While I working as Script Supervisor for the film The Echo (2008)—oh, how many The Echo viewing parties have we all attended in our lives?—the crew was setting up a night shot in Washington Square Park to capture the Empire State Building tower lights through the Arch (essentially something like this) when a cab and another car collided into each other right in front of the shot. Immediately both drivers jumped out of their cars screaming and attacking each other because every so often New York City is exactly like non-New Yorkers imagine it to be. Police arrived, people were pried apart, and statements were taken as the rest of us just waited and waited and waited. Finally, everything and everyone was cleared, the camera was in place, the director yelled “Action!” and at that precise moment the Empire State Building tower lights went black, thereby revealing no one had bothered to find out when they go off. (The answer: 2 AM and no, that does not fall under script supervisor duties.) After a long, silent pause that if put into words would sound like “Fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck,” the director decided they would just add the tower lights in post. Movies!

One Response

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  1. Bill said, on April 15, 2018 at 5:44 pm

    That is a great story, but if you tell me (in a Paul Harvey voice) that the pig was named Arnold Ziffel I will have to roll my eyes at you. Again, great story and I hope you can somehow work the script supervisor angle into Judge Parker. That would blow minds.

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