What's It Like?...To Have a TV Crew Shoot in Your Home?
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
A cable network approached us about making a reality series about UFO abductees and after talking to the head of the production company, Whitley became convinced that he took this subject seriously, so we said yes. Part of the shooting consisted of interviews with so-called "abductees"--many of whom have implants (just like Whitley has). The film crew also wanted to shoot some footage of Whitley working at his computer in our apartment in LA, so we agreed to that too.
When someone brings cameras into your dwelling, it causes you to look at the way you live in a whole new way. I find wisdom in comic strips and often cut them out and stick them to the refrigerator with magnets. Did this look silly? Thankfully, they didn't seem interested in shooting our kitchen.
The filming consisted of Whitley saying the same lines, in slightly different ways, over and over again, under hot lights. I actually began to feel a little sorry for movie stars! Meanwhile, I made myself useful by going out to buy some large paper clips because the gaffer (the lighting man) forgot to bring the clothes pins that fasten the gels to those lights.
In TV, a "showrunner" is the man (or woman) who writes the pilot for a TV series, supervises the editing of the pilot and the writing of subsequent episodes. I don't know whether or not this pilot will eventually become a series, but I really like our showrunner, Nick. The first showrunner on the project--a woman--meant well, but she came on too strong and scared all our experiencers away, in an effect that was like spraying insect repellent on an ant's nest! We had to explain to her that people who have had UFO experiences are shy and have to be coaxed into being interviewed. Many of them haven't even told their spouses or best friends about what happened to them, and they could be in danger of losing their jobs. As everyone who has had these experiences knows, ridicule is the weapon of choice.
I've had an interesting experience getting to know two Ph.D. scientists who have both had extensive contact experiences, one of whom appears in the pilot heavily disguised, using the pseudonym "John Smith." Besides meeting him in person, we've exchanged many emails and I've learned that he's worried that one of his children may also be involved. His marriage is on the verge of breaking up, because his wife can't deal with the idea of the Visitors. I've offered to help by talking to her, but so far she hasn't been willing to get in touch with me.
I haven't actually met the second scientist--he's the friend of a good friend, but again, we've exchanged extensive emails. My ultimate goal is to get these two equally eminent scientists together via email, with me out of the loop, so they can exchange experiences and (hopefully) help each other cope with what's going on in their lives.
I?m not a big fan of "reality" series on TV--I like TV shows that tell STORIES. But after filming this documentary, I'm going to take another look at them. Whitley and I wouldn't survive a "Survivor"-type series: the last time we went camping, we were woken up by a downpour and sheltered in a cave while we watched our expensive camping equipment cascading down the side of a mountain, borne by a newly formed river. There were four of us packed tightly into that cave and I discovered that it actually IS possible to sleep standing up. I may have been able to do this because I had managed to grab our bottle of whiskey and wouldn't let anyone else have any (it wasn't my best moment).
We wouldn't survive a talent-type contest either. Whitley has the strange non-talent of not being able to sing at all. When he was in school, his teachers would hear the discordance and seek him out in the group, then ask him to please only move his lips. Our son, who was studying music in school at the time, once said wonderingly of him, "He NEVER hits a note--he's always either sharp or flat." What's odd about this is that he has a perfect ear when it comes to HEARING music: he can tell instantly if a note is off in a Mozart piece he's listening to, for instance.
And "Dancing with the Stars?" Nope, not that, either. We actually took ballroom dancing lessons once, but Whitley truly does have two left feet and seems to have no rhythm at all. As they say in Nashville, he dances like a white man. Or as he puts it (paraphrasing an old Fred MacMurray movie), he dances "like a drunken chimpanzee."
A final (and funny) incident: One of the producers brought along an ice chest with sodas and water in it and after the shoot, I offered to dump it out in our bathtub for her. However, I forgot to tell Whitley about it and for the first time since I've known him, he decided to take a shower in the afternoon, after the film crew left, because he was sweaty from all those hot lights. I heard a sudden loud cry and realized he had stepped right into the icy slush!
NOTE: This Diary entry, previously published on our old site, will have any links removed.