Stories From the Set: An Assistant Director, Voice Actor, Character Actor and Film Liaison Tell All

The Assistant Director Who’s There Until the Bitter End

The third assistant director typically works at the Circus (where all the cast trailers, hair, makeup and wardrobe departments are), and oversees what’s happening there. I receive cast at their call time, make sure they get into the hair and makeup trailer on time, get dressed and travel to set on time. If the cast have a hair or makeup or costume change I oversee those, and I know how long each department needs to complete their change. When the cast are done for the day I sign them out and send them home, or to a fitting, or to ADR, or a stunt rehearsal, or to a haircut. It’s a lot of scheduling and logistics, to say the least.

I’m in a half an hour before the first cast member, so typically an hour and a half to two hours before crew call. If you’re working on a period piece where hair, makeup and wardrobe are much more involved, it might be earlier than that. I work an average of 15 hours a day. There’s a lot of caffeine involved. At the end of the day, I create the daily production report, which reflects what we accomplished as a production and everyone’s times. I wait for the crew to wrap out to get their paperwork so I can input that information, and then I head home and hit the hay. 

Aimee Scott, third assistant director

The Animated Actor

It may sound obvious, but with voice acting, you don’t have your face and body to express the lines. It’s trying to make words and characters come to life with one thing. With Dragon Prince, we get the script first and then it’s animated based on our voices. One of the coolest things is seeing someone animate something I said, making faces off what I said. I see the character take on my mannerisms.

I’ve been going to a lot of comic cons, and it’s been surreal. It’s a weird feeling when people ask for your autograph and want to take your picture, and then pay you for it. Sometimes they are nervous or star-struck and hug you, and it’s bizarre, and lovely. I don’t think I’ll ever get used to it. It’s interesting to see people create emotional attachments to a character and view me as this person who breathed life into them. I like meeting people, I like when they dress up like my character. I’m more excited to see them than they are to see me.

—Racquel Belmonte, voice actor for Claudia on Netflix’s Dragon Prince

The Vancouverite Who Basically Lives on a Film Set

Our co-op is adjacent to a popular cobblestoned street in Gastown. Over the course of a year, we’ll get about 20 shoots. We have so many that we needed someone to try to lower the impact on co-op members, and when that can’t be done, negotiate inconvenience agreements for interruptions.

There’s a hierarchy of things we’re concerned about, like keeping the accessible parking stall unobstructed. Their generators can’t be too loud or in the way. We don’t want bright lights pointed at our windows. You can never fully protect yourself, though. Locations departments are very thoughtful but on the day of filming they’re often the lowest on the ladder for decision making.

The co-op received an aggregate of around $15,000 last fiscal year from the production companies for inconvenience fees, which goes into our operating budget. The glamour of filming isn’t much of a currency around here. People are concerned about the politics, because it seems like we’re being bought off. To me, it’s harm reduction: if they want to make a donation to our co-op and they’re going to film here anyway, we may as well ask. It’s better than not.

—Jackie Hoffart, film liaison for Four Sisters’ Co-Op in Gastown

Hollywood North’s Favourite “Russian”

My agent Roxanne told me, it’s not even really your accent, because a lot of people do a lot better accent than you. But you totally understand what it means to be eastern European. It’s just in your soul. And I understand what she means—when I start speaking with an eastern European accent, all of a sudden, my voice goes low and it even kind of makes me shiver. Because it’s a whole different way of thinking—it’s very melancholic. Eastern Europe has had so much trial and tribulation. I was in St. Petersburg doing this movie with Keanu Reeves called Siberia, and when I walk the streets of St. Petersburg at night, I feel like I’ve been there. I look at the buildings and I know the buildings. I go to the Bolshoi, and I feel like I could have been a ballet dancer. Maybe I play Germans because the Germans took away part of my mother’s family, and so I understand the Germans.

—Eugene Lipinski, UK-born, Vancouver-based actor in more than 100 movies and TV shows.