Monday, 24 June 2013

Learning Chinese in 90 days: days 8 and 9 - L is for (old) Lesbian part 2


The door latch released and I was buzzed into the building. I climbed the stairs, up all 4 floors (what is it with casting directors and their aversion to lifts?), collected myself on the landing and removed my glasses. (I may be shortsighted and contact lenses intolerant but my acting persona refuses to wear glasses.) I knocked and wandered in.

It was a big industrial loft space. I made out an empty receptionist desk ahead of me and some tall potted plants to my left and took a few steps forward. And a few more.

Suddenly Mr. D materialised at my elbow.

Mr D: Mwah mwah.
Me: Mwah mwah.
Mr D: Hello lovely, take a seat. (He gestured vaguely in the direction of the potted plants.) I'll be with you in a tick.
Me: Ok!

I made my way back to the entrance and the potted plants and found the waiting area. I took off my jacket and sat down in a corner of the wooden bench dotted with cushions. Very boho. Someone had left their purse and jacket on the bench opposite. The wall was covered in movie posters. Then I heard it. The distinct sound of the ocean lapping a sandy beach 'Woooosshhh, moooooosshhhh, booooosshh, poooooshh.... ' emanating from behind the potted plants. I peered into the leaves but failed to uncover the lagoon, instead I spotted one of those white noise machines.

Before I had a chance to reflect any further on the sound accoutrement, a door opened and a tall, I mean TALL and slinky girl dressed all in black with a few visible tattoos and an eyebrow piercing emerged from a meeting room. She shook hands with a friendly looking lady, sashayed across the hard wood floor, swept up her purse and jacket and floated out the front door.

I figured Mr. D and his team were casting models for an upcoming project.

I went back to contemplating the movie posters.

The front door opened again and another TALL and slinky girl with cropped white hair in a long black leather coat swept in and sat down across from me. She took off her coat to reveal a leather/black silk combo body stocking. I stared at her high platform spiked boots.

Me (smiling): Hello!
Body stocking: Hi!
Me (pointing at her coat): It's cold out there! (especially for people with so little natural insulation) So much for summer.
Body stocking: I am from Iceland. This is not cold!
Me: Wow. Iceland, what's that like?
Body stocking: It's small and the cities have green (sic) and everyone rides a bicycle. It's great!
Me: Cool.
Body stocking: I come here for work. For a few days and everything is so big and grey. Then I go home!
Me: Mmmmm.


Body stocking: What is that?
Me: ?
Body stocking: That noise. You hear it?
Me: It's a white noise machine, set to the sound of the ocean lapping on a beach. You know, to relax us before an audition.
Body stocking: I don't need relaxing I'm from Iceland.

She didn't actually say that last bit but she was getting on my proverbial cleavage. There's only so much slinky skimpy TALL model natter I can take in pre-casting mode. As it turns out, I didn't have to wait long.  Out came the nice friendly lady and Body Stocking was called into the meeting room.

They were definitely casting models. models with an edge by the looks of it, none of that commercial American Pie Barbie nonsense. It was more Girl with a Dragon Tattoo territory. I wondered what kind of film it was.

I waited.


The meeting door opened again and Body Stocking was kissed goodbye by the friendly lady who then made her way to me. "You must be Isabelle. So sorry to have kept you waiting. Please do come in."

They weren't casting models. They were casting an Indie Feature Film with a Lesbian Theme and I was either up against the tall skinny ones (ha ha ha) or I would end up French kissing the Body Stocking.

Me and the friendly lady, we had a lovely chat. Turns out she was the writer and director of the feature film. Her producer, a lovely German lady in skinny jeans and a black t-shirt, was also there. We got along like a house on fire. They asked me to talk about me (easy!) then they told me about the film.

Me: Are there any nude scenes or particularly explicit scenes in the script?
Friendly director lady: No, nothing like that. I think nudity's overdone. Even if it gets you into Festivals. I just don't buy it.
Me: Ok. I mean, nudity doesn't bother me.
Friendly director lady:  Oh that's good. I don't know why some people get so hung up on it.

The friendly director lady and her lovely producer stared at me benignly.

Lovely producer: Thing is for the story to make sense, she's got to look at least 15 to 20 years older than her partner.
Friendly director lady: That's true. You're the right age on paper but you look so young. Can you look any older?
Me: Sure, I guess... with the right kind of lighting and no make-up (How old are we talking?)

And we chatted some more. About this and that. The part. The story. The other characters. And then we finished and I found myself back in the waiting area.

Mr D. materialised at my elbow. Again.

Mr D.: How did it go?
Me: Great! She's really lovely. I think we hit it off...
Mr D: When the brief came in I thought it would be right up your alley.
Me: Yeah. Like totally. (Yeah Like Totally? Who's there?) I'd love to do it.
Mr D: Alright then. Thanks for coming in. Bye.

And with that he walked me back to the front door and saw me out. (They do that casting directors, when they're casting from their own offices, they always make sure you leave. Or maybe that's just for me.)

Almost forgot! How's the Mandarin going? It's going. It's tough, but it's going. I'm learning how to count and learning to tell and ask for the time. But interestingly they're not teaching me 1 to 10. We've gone: 2 then 8 and 9  and 1 and 3 and 4 and 5.

What else have I learned? To go. Going to (which is the same as to order and to want).

I've learned how to say: 'or' when it's a question and 'or' when it's not a question. I can say lunch (but not yet dinner). I can order 2 beers (and up to 9 so I'm sure to make friends).

'Me too' and 'what about you'.

'When' is relatively easy but 'later' is a bit of a tongue twister (I'm going to have the best diction in English when I'm done with this course).

So I'm making good progress and I can say entire phrases. But understanding what people are saying to me at conversational speed is a bit of a challenge. I'm still decoding the words rather than just inhaling their meaning. But I'm sure it'll come.

So the forecast looks something like this: Mandarin blossoms with decreasing chances of cloud and rain (a Chinese euphemism for jiggyjiggy - I didn't pick that up on the course, it's from the Inspector Chen novels by Qiu Xialong) with Body Stocking.

Until tomorrow...

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