What a BG PA Does On Set

My function on the King’s Faith film set was as the Background Production Assistant or BG PA. Thanks for asking 🙂

Basically, what this means is that I helped keep track of extras, also called background actors. Whether we had three for the day or three hundred, they were all my problem.
Oddly enough, this “problem” quickly evolved into the very best facet of my job. I am required to direct large groups of people (which often involves shouting) in an authoritative manner. It is much easier for me to gain respect from my background when I have built some sort of relationship with them in which they see that I am just like them–somebody trying to do a good job at what they have been asked to do.

It was challenging at times. I had to keep the guys and gals from a very serious modeling and acting agency separate from all my other background. I had to tell people much older than myself where they had to be and when. I had to balance being “in charge” of these people with being in the same boat as them.
Basically, I spent hours on end in the set holding area keeping background entertained and learning about their lives. I learned what the film meant to each of them and what each had invested. Some had auditioned for lead roles but had not been selected. Some had just tagged along with a brother or girlfriend on a lazy Saturday. Every story was different. My groups of actors always got their hour or two of shooting time in front of the camera, but there were hours upon hours spent without much to do.
I lived for these hours 🙂

My bff, Tony. He was a video blogger on set.

I will miss you all so much. Normally, I am a little bit down on social networking sites, but I thank God for His blessing of Facebook which will enable me to see your beautiful faces whenever I like . . . hopefully in person before too long.

That’s a Wrap!

Photo credit: Winterwheat
Get it? Lol, it’s a wrap! A yummy turkey and swiss wrap on a spinach tort!
Okay, immature moment over.
Of course, what I meant was that shooting for King’s Faith finally wrapped around 6:00 this morning! After a 3pm-3am shoot and two 6pm-6am shoots, my sleep schedule will finally recover from its nocturnal state tonight. That’s great, because classes start tomorrow. Whew.
As demanding and exhausting as this volunteer position was, I have never felt more fulfilled–which is interesting, because at the same time I have never felt more under-appreciated by my coworkers. This is an unfortunate but true reality of working in film production. My job was to become scum for the sake of those above me who needed me to make sacrifices.
It’s raining? Here, have my umbrella. Your phone died? Here, use up my minutes. I poured the last of the coffee? Here you go, I didn’t really need it anyway AT FOUR O’CLOCK IN THE MORNING!
Yep, the work was physically, mentally, and emotionally taxing, which is why I didn’t blog about it much while it was happening. I was always completely spent by the time I got home. 
I have to say, communing with brothers and sisters in Christ who were all working with me towards the goal of reaching a massive audience with a life-saving message presented through art made any inconvenience or discomfort undeniably worth it. It helped me remember why I was there. It certainly wasn’t for monetary reasons. If anything, it cost me money to participate. It wasn’t even to be a part of creating a work of art. I was on set every day as a ministry–a ministry of faith, sacrifice, and creativity.
This is a tribute to my time on the King’s Faith set courtesy of Kelly Sullivan at Snap, Click, Whir Photography.

Your Space: I Got All My Sistas With Me!

Rachey-poo moves in to her Roberts dorm today! Oh, joy of joys. She will be here forever, and neither of us will ever be without a girlfriend. Even more exciting, today is her eighteenth birthday!
Happy birthday, lovely!
I snapped a few pictures of the move-in, which is great, because I don’t have much time or energy to write anything about the occasion since I need to be at work for a 6pm to 6am overnight shoot in just a little bit.

I just want to add that I think personalizing one’s college dorm room is one of the most challenging yet rewarding things for a young girl to do. How does one condense her entire existence into a twelve-by-twelve space and still have room to move around?

Rachel impressed me by keeping her room pretty simple, low-key, and coherent in terms of decor, but the other-worldy size and condition of her wardrobe may have offset this nice balance that previously existed.

The earring tree I bought her for her birthday

A dried bouquet birthday gift from ages ago

Coloring pages. Now that’s a personal touch 🙂
And all her stuff is lime green 🙂
Chewing gum and kind of bugging out about limited closet space

Starving Artist: Braised Beef and Tortelloni

This is a tribute to Josh’s and my favorite restaurant, the one and only Olive Garden. We had our first date in this Italian-inspired wonderland years ago, and since then I have not been able to talk Josh out of ordering the same old stuffed chicken marsala that I talked him into trying all those years back. I sure know this guy’s taste. He says that nothing could possibly be better.
Let me assure you, something can.
Introducing Olive Garden-inspired Braised Beef and Tortelloni!
I like to call this dish the grown up version of stuffed chicken marsala. It is like the most perfect manifestation of the flavors I love in The tastes are similarly sweet because both use a marsala wine-based sauce, but the beef tortelloni dish is heartier because of the stuffed pasta and meat. Also, because this recipe uses fresh vegetables instead of sundried tomatoes, it tastes smoother and less starchy.
I am unaware of Olive Garden’s exact secrets, but I am incredibly proud of this delightful reincarnation of the dish which I came up with purely through experimentation. Try to tell me that’s not art! 
Braised Beef and Tortelloni

2 lbs boneless beef short rib
about 20 oz cheese tortelloni (not tortellini, tortelloni is bigger)
24 oz Marsala wine
8 oz heavy cream
1 tsp garlic, minced
1 tsp cornstarch (optional for thicker sauce)
6 oz baby bella mushrooms, sliced
3 tomatoes, diced
8-10 fresh basil leaves, chopped
1 tsp balsamic vinegar

Pour tortelloni into a large bowl and cover with water. Soak overnight. (Please note, many people would just prepare the sauce and then serve it over cooked tortelloni. I prefer to soak my pasta and then cook it for a few minutes in the sauce to maximize flavor. It turned out great this way!)

Place short ribs in a saucepan heated to medium-high and sear on all sides in an inch of Marsala wine. Reduce heat to low, and add the remaining wine as well as the garlic, heavy cream, and one half of your chopped basil. (If desired, combine cornstarch and a small amount of cold water in an airtight container and shake thoroughly. Add mixture to sauce.) Cover and let simmer.

Check occassionally for beef’s doneness and to replenish liquid with more wine if some has evaporated off. When beef reaches desired doneness, remove from saucepan. Add mushrooms and drained tortelloni. Slice beef into thin strips and return to sauce. Remove from heat, cover, and let sit for 3-5 minutes before serving.

Welcome to heaven a la Italia!

Portfolio Shoot 1: Bride of Frankenstein

Photo Credit: Cheryl Skinn
Remember this post about the stressful photo shoot at the Hyat Regency? Well, all the stress paid off. The money these cost me has yet to pay itself off, but all things come to those who wait, right?
Several of the above are going in my modeling portfolio.
I don’t really think we were going for a Bride of Frankenstein vibe, but the dress I picked has that kid of appeal for me. The dress is a DIY, by the way. Yeah, I made that 😉
Me gustan mucho estos photographias!

My ASL Story

I’m such a dork, but I was so excited about the encounter that I describe in this video that I had to share–in sign language, no less.
Here’s a transcript of what I’m saying:
“Hi, I want to tell you a story.
I learned to sign to music for church and school a long time ago, but I’ve never signed a conversation with a deaf person. Why? Because I’m scared! When I’m around people who are deaf and they’re all signing to each other, I freeze! I feel shy and embarrassed. My signing is slow. It’s bad. I try to sign, but I blush and shake, and I forget all of the sign language I know.
Anyway, last week, I visited a church with my husband. I was looking around for a place to sit, and I saw a woman signing. She was interpreting church for her husband. I said ‘hi,’ and we started talking. I told her about my fear of signing with deaf people. She said that I needed to meet her husband because I know sign language. I said ‘okay.’
All of a sudden, there was a deaf man right in front of me! I started shaking and my face turned red, but he said (well, he signed) ‘hi.’ So I signed ‘hi, my name is Jessi.” His name was Troy. Easy, right? I signed that I go to Roberts Wesleyan College where I study English and Communications. (My signing was bad. His wife helped interpret for me.)
We ‘talked,’ and he was so nice! He was polite and smiling–so happy that I was trying to sign. He made me happy, too.
I hope that now my fear is gone.”
I suppose I just reached a point where I asked myself why I wanted to learn sign language so badly. When I truthfully answered myself that it was because I enjoyed signing for audiences the way I enjoyed acting and other forms of performance art, I didn’t really like that answer. It seemed selfish. I needed to reexamine my motives.
Yes, sign language is one of the most beautiful forms of communication known to man, but to some people, it is their only form of communication. It is the only way that they can connect with the world.
I want to be a part of that world that they can connect with.

On a subconscious level, I think that learning sign language has always been a way for me to expand the audience of people I am able to reach through art. I want to be able to speak to the hearts of more than just the people who can hear or read the words I say–the pictures I want to be able to paint with words. I want to be able to speak to the hearts of people who can only see the pictures I paint with my hands.

Thanks for your help, Troy 🙂