|By Stacey K. Black|
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At least once a day I have to pinch myself, just to make sure that I'm not dreaming. Ow! Nope, I'm awake, and actually am the Head Hair Stylist on the highest rated cable series in television history, TNT's, "The Closer." How cool is that?
Hollywood was a world away from the small town in Michigan where I grew up. Just a dream on a screen. A magical place where I thought you'd have to be super-human to survive. But, I worked hard, paid my dues, and here I am. Yet I still have "oh my god" moments when I can't quite believe that I made it.
We are now in season 5 of "The Closer," and when I look around the set, I see probably 90% of the original crew I started this show with. People I've been working with for years now who have become like my family. No one wants to leave, and for good reason. Every crew member's contribution matters on this show. Everyone brings their own unique skill and personality to this party, and it's always appreciated.
There is a great episode from season 3, "Saving Face," where Brenda is assaulted by a bride outside a church, right after Flynn and Provenza drop a casket down the steps, which pops open and reveals a naked woman wrapped in a sheet in the casket with the dead guy. I know! It sounds crazy, right? Well, shooting part of that scene was an exercise in controlled chaos, like trying to successfully lasso a tornado. We had a stunt bride, so that meant a stunt wedding dress, a stunt wig, many, many stunt bridal bouquets, and wouldn't you know, we needed to get this last shot before the sun went down. Those are the times when it just seems impossible. Before we even got to the set, the art department had dressed it for the scene, the transportation guys brought in the picture cars to be photographed, the casket had been rigged to pop open at exactly the right moment, and the production office had made sure each department had the equipment we needed to pull it off. I remember putting the finishing touch on the wig, then stepping back (getting out of the way) and taking a moment to appreciate the situation around me. I saw a flurry of costumers working with Costume Designer Greg LaVoi to get the stunt woman into the giant wedding dress. Grips and electricians hurrying to get the lights and flags in the right places while the camera operators set up shots carrying these heavy cameras on their shoulders which weigh about 55 lbs. each, like a sack of cement.The prop department had to wrangle and maintain the real and fake bouquets the bride would hit Brenda with. Each take, the real flowers went flying and another bouquet was ruined. During all of this, Craft Services were making sure we had fuel for our bodies, probably something delicious like pizza. The set was so large in scope, the sound department needed radio mics and booms to catch every sound. It was like I was watching a ballet, the whole troupe hard at work, doing their own unique dance on this huge stage, and I remember thinking that if just one person dropped the ball, if one person didn't perform, if we were missing even one element, we would not get the shot. And not only did everything have to come together in time, it also had to be GOOD. Can't forget that part! Everyone felt the tension, it was "make it or break it time," and oh yeah, we made it!
It was great to see proof of just how important each job is. To experience the individual contributions in this amazing craft of filmmaking. Because in episodic television, we basically make a little movie each week. The schedule and pace can be insane, but also exhilarating. And in a situation like this, the cameras roll, the bride goes bonkers, and Brenda makes her bust, then we hear, "Cut! Print! That's a wrap!" and that in itself is a dream come true.
I have these "oh my god" moments all the time, and my most recent was the other day when James Duff, the Creator of "The Closer" came into the hair and makeup trailer, and asked me if I wanted to write a behind-the-scenes blog for TNT's "Closer" webpage. This incredibly talented writer, giving me a chance to write about a world that HE created? I mean, come on... pinch me.