Monday, 2 November 2009

Talkin' 'bout An Education

I sat in the cinema yesterday awaiting the screening of An Education.

My mind flashed back to the past, before all this, back to when I was younger but no less Innocent. Back to the filming of An Education. Going into makeup and coming out dressed as an Oxford student. Sitting in the green room chatting to the guy playing the barman. Rolling, rolling up, Soundspeed! Take seven, action! Walk across the set, slight smile on face, holding a (fake) beer. Signal some other students. Say the line. Do it again. Chat animatedly to Dominic Cooper in the lunch break about the different versions of The History Boys. Get in Rosamund Pike's way, hurriedly rushing back to the starting point. Camp costume designer straightening my jacket, coat, trousers. Over and over. Walk across the set. Cameo, in a film.

Best feeling in the world.

So the film started. Fantastic soundtrack. The acting was amazing - I don't think anyone gave an Oscar-winning performance, but this should scoop a few BAFTAs. I'd give a full review, but I'm in it, so I'd be highly biased. But the Nick Hornby script was spot-on. Sharp, funny, and cinematic brilliance. Not the best thing I've seen this year, but certainly one of the best. Only nine major characters, really, of which four are the most focused on, plus two or three more minor ones. I grinned broadly at the wit and felt highly attuned to this film. That's the mark of a Good Solid British Comedy. And on came the scene I'm in, about a third of the way through.

Best feeling in the world.

Carey, Pete, Dom and Ros stand about saying this and that. At this point, I walk past holding my beer and wearing my vague smile. And yet... nothing. I'm not there. I am confused. I recognise the camera shot... Damn. This was the shot they took when I walked behind the camera so as not to obscure view. In shot: my mate playing the barman. Well, he would be. He got a great part. But no me. There's my cameo... gone.
Change of shot. Carey, Pete, Dom and Ros sitting at a table in the bar. In shot: my mate playing a student who looks almost exactly like my girlfriend. (I-ro-ny!) In the background: a mix of students drinking pints. I know I'm one of them. In fact, I know which one is me. Yes, I'm in this film, but still. You can't tell it's me. You can barely see anything, never mind my face. Me, and a bunch of other students, just walking around pretending to drink. There's my voice, in the background, somewhere. But no four-second cameo. I'm in this film (and I got paid for it, too)... but just barely.

Deflated.

I picked up a little after a few minutes. I mean, they can't show everyone. And I shouldn't be ungrateful, either. Some more of my fellow Supporting Artistes barely got a look-in. I think a few of them probably weren't in it at all (barring the background noise, which we all took part in). And hey, I was in a film. And it was a good film. The plot got more intense, the music was still excellent and I started enjoying it a little more. I thought I could definitely see it again. In fact, I'm going to, right? Why not? Here's a film that many people could grow to love.

Best feeling in the world.

And then came the final bits. Sentimental. Happy ending, but tinged with sadness. Some beautiful shots of Oxford finish the film off, and I'm reminded of how much I like the place. I miss it, and I miss her, and I remember back in my fledgling days, when everyone thought I'd end up there myself. But I didn't.

Deflated.

And so I left the cinema with very mixed emotions. Fantastic film which contains two moments of great poignancy for ILB. I wasn't sure quite what to make of it... if I'd seen it without reading the script, what would I have said? What would I have thought? And so I remained largely silent.

Got into a car with four of my friends. Everyone had a smile broader than the one I'd had when I did the filming. The brothers were bantering back and forth. Young raver was telling a story of something that happened at Hallowe'en and making everyone laugh. I sat in the passenger seat at the front, glancing at the Paddington Bear air freshener. Relaised the presence of everyone else. I was surrounded by the friends and allies I've known since I was four. Just another Woodcraft trip to the cinema.

Best feeling in the world.

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