it’s all greek to me!

wow!!! what an eventful few months!

ironically, just as i got my fingers back on the keyboard, life conspired to get me busy doing the other thing i do really well, actually, the thing i do best. acting.

i booked a role in a german movie which was shooting in cape town and from one week to the next, i had to organize a house/dog-sitter and haul ass down to the sea.

flashback 30 or so years:

i meet Wolfgang who becomes my first boyfriend, then i meet my terrible twin, sylvia – both germans. soon we are all hanging out ALL the time and they’re speaking ze cherman around me and almost by osmosis i’m beginning to understand a lot of it. so i decide to do german intensive during my third year at uct. i didn’t do spectacularly, but having been exposed to two native speakers, my german accent is really not bad and i lied, it’s not entirely greek to me.

over the years that smattering of german has stood me in really good stead. well, not that often, but it was there when i needed it. like in moscow circa 1991, seeing that i basically understood “spasiba”, “dobra utra”, “dasvadanya” and as most russians  spoke no english back then in the ice-age ;), for any kind of communication, we had to fall back on our common second-language: german! next came budapest in 1997 and once again my little knowledge of german helped to get me around the city and in the general direction of where i needed to be.

a few years later: i’m cast in another german movie and once the lead actress hears me speaking german, that’s it. she insists that i act in german and that they not dub me. (a little aside here: on these movies the german actors all do their dialogue in german and the local cast speaks either english or afrikaans and are then dubbed, at great expense, back in germany. apparently german voice-over artists are some of the highest-paid performers in the country! it’s a peculiar thing, this acting in different languages – invariably, language which to the other person is as incomprehensible as the gibberish spoken between baby twins in those viral you-tube videos. it really takes some doing.

flash forward to mid-november: i get cast in this latest movie and i (overconfidently) tell the director and producer that i will attempt the dialogue in german. this before i read the script. before i realize  just how big the part is and how many monologues i will have to master! suffice to say that it was one of the most challenging things i’ve had to do in a long time. normally, i do my prep for a day’s shoot, but i never really learn the words till i finally get to run the dialogue with the other actors. that way the performance stays fresh and much more believable. it feels that way for me, at least. well, this time around, unless i put in endless-nights-in-my-hotel-room-worth of prep-time, there was no way i would be able to get through the scenes. my brain did gymnastics. my tongue twisted. all while i was slathered in layers of fake-tan, make-up, a lace-front wig and stilettos to die for (and good as they looked, i sure felt like i was dying after each day’s shoot – of back-pain )!

it was scary and exhilirating and mind-expanding and it’s making me explore going to the goethe institute here in johannesburg this year and taking some more lessons so i can finally master this infernal language, instead of being it’s sub.


we were fooling around on set and in that outfit i just had to do a kim k impersonation! 🙂

so, that was some of my experience with the germans. lots more transpired these last few months, but i’ve been so verbose,  it’ll have to wait till next time.

oh, and happy new year!!! 🙂

eine tasche tee…

i’m just starting week 3 on the german movie and let me tell you , i’m no longer movie fit!

make no mistake, shooting a multi-cam tv show is a beast of its own that needs time and skill to tame, but i’ve been doing it daily for so long now that i’ve pretty much got it figured out. if there are emotional scenes, hold back during blocking and rehearsals, give a little during the technical rehearsals, but save your performance for the take and hopefully there’ll be no more than 3 of those.

get to a movie and it’s a totally different story. day 1, my first scene: sobbing next to a grave side. after the first wide shot the director comes up to me and quietly advises me that i can go much louder, more hysterical. 8 wide shots later of me wailing through the entire length of amazing grace sung in afrikaans to be dubbed into german, we move in for mid shots and by the time we get to the close ups the tears have long dried in the magaliesberg heat and i am now required to EMOTE on take 15. and NOW finally, the director would like those tears running down my face!!!

for my first dialogue, i decided to give the german script a try during rehearsal, after which i swiftly retreated and did it in english and afrikaans (germans dub everything! – the german actors speak german and the south africans speak whatever and then some voice actor later makes them sound like germans). on the final take of an emotional scene the director announces that she wants me to do in german. talk about patting your head and rubbing your stomach at the same time! it was rather edifying that when i drove back after jumping in the car and racing off dramatically at the end of the scene, i was met with a round of applause from cast and crew. and since then, i don’t even bother with the english dialogue. never mind that i offered someone a suitcase, rather than a cup of tea, and that i offered to shoot someone rather than water them (don’t ask), for the rest everyone seems to expect me to do it in german now. after 20 years it’s quite a task getting the brain and tongue to wrap itself around a barely mastered third language.

add the getting up at 03h30, the long hours and the hour schlep to and from set and the dust and the scorching sun and my iphone battery dying by 11a.m when i have the slutwalk to help organize inbetween takes and you get that life is far from boring and sleep is in short supply. i’ve taken to using sleeping aids to ensure that i’ll get some sleep.

and yet, despite, or because, of it all, it’s rather fabulous to be on a film-set again. and i hope to do it again soon!

warte mal, ich komme, ich komme!!!

the chermans are coming…

i start shooting a movie today for the first time since i moved back here from the states. a german movie. and no, not porn, as some of my snarky friends, remarked. pffft!

in the midst of my life being overtaken by all things slutwalk and finishing a huge emotional story-line on the soap, i got an audition for this movie.

the way things usually work, i’m never available to go for auditions because i’m shooting. turns out i was available. the call-back was the next day, a saturday. which meant that i was free to go. the director spent about 45 minutes with me doing scenes forward and backward, in english, in afrikaans, crying, angry, etc.

then i heard not a word from them for 3 entire weeks during which i decided that if it was meant to be, it would. finally they got back to me with an offer and the dates they’d be shooting and unbelievably, it’s at a time when my character is out of the story on the soap which is my day-job!

obviously this is meant to be. so i’m off to the magaliesberg to go and sob next to a graveside. the movie is for now, called “lion girl”. and it’s bizarre – the german  cast speaks german, the south african cast speak english or afrikaans and then we get dubbed. i’m going to try the impossible, and do my dialogue in german. if my german 101 doesn’t forsake me.

so, look out for the lion girl, coming soon to a german tv screen – very far from you! 😉