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Finding Refuge

UPDATE** | 05/01/2013 – The movie is out!

Watch Refuge on PBS. See more from FutureStates.

Weeks after a fun audition in a swanky office space, I got the call. Booked a small role in a really neat gig. It’s called REFUGE. Here’s an excerpt from the casting call:

“Refuge” is a FUTURESTATES Season 4 film commissioned by PBS and ITVS following an Iranian girl whose immigrant status is threatened must decide whether to participate in an invasive study to stay in the US or risk being deported.

The movie stars Nikohl Boosheri. And on this particular day, a whole lot of extras! This sign, as I arrived, tickled me…can someone please find that apostrophe a proper home?!

I was delighted to find out that they were shooting three blocks from where I worked! I spent most of my bus ride over shaking off the sleep that stubbornly clung on to me. I knew there’d be coffee on set, but, with the shoot being so close to my favorite coffee spot, the choice was a no-brainer.

The role they offered me was one of three security guards- and I scored the speaking part! During the audition, they had me improvise the scene. This followed after a couple of read throughs- it’s time like this that I look back and am thankful I’ve taken the time to take improv classes.

Crew loading in some set essentials…

My initial reaction (which continued throughout the day) was how professional the production felt. Everyone was on their game and information was communicated clearly through all the channels. I appreciated that immensely. All too often it’s “hurry up and wait” (a film set adage) then BAM, you’re in front of the camera, expected to be vulnerable and emotionally supple. But I digress.

After quickly checking in with the Assistant Director, I was met by the Director, Mohammad Gorjestani, who  I have to say, is one of the coolest directors I’ve met. I observed him throughout the day and it was nice seeing him greet everyone that came on to the set. He exchanged words long enough to let you know he knew you there, but not too long that he was forgetting his main duty on the film. Good man, that one.

My first time being shot on an ARRI. Stoked!

My first order of business was to locate the wardrobe department. It occurred to me that morning that this was the first film set I’ve showed up on set without having to provide my own wardrobe. As such, they had to make a few minor adjustments to the costumes they sorted for me. But they did a great job making sure it fit right and looked authentic within the context of the piece.

Hana and Kat, assit. costume designer and costume designer, respectively. They were great with those needles!

Interestingly enough, this is the first set I’ve been on in a while where I wasn’t already friends with at least a handful of people- in fact, the only person I recognized was Daniel Garcia from Content Magazine. And to continue on my love for photographing photographers photographing people, I couldn’t help but take this one.

As some of you already know, no on set blog entry is complete without a quick tour over to the Craft Services table- so, I present to you…breakfast!

Considering it was a relatively short day, there weren’t too many trips to the table. The quiche was a nice touch.

The scene I was in required a bit of set dressing. It had to look like an embassy of sorts, complete with foot traffic and terminals that scanned for potentially hazardous objects. With some creative movie magic and lots of helping hands the production team did just that.

My hats off to that team- they were efficient and responsive!

There were some details that had to be taken care of with the scene. Firstly, there was the matter of helping my security guard-ness more official. And what screams more official than an I.D. badge (even if it isn’t my face on it…)

…Or my name.

All in all, another wonderful experience on set.

Smile on, smile on.

What do you look for in short films? In regards to films with social commentary, or ones that really lean in and dissect our culture and society, what questions do you want answered? I’d love to hear about it- feel free to leave me a comment below. And as always, you can tweet me at Follow @tasialabastro

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