Day in the life of
Actor – Ria Patel
My name is Ria Patel, I am an Australian Indian Actress and Dancer, based in Los Angeles.
Depending on what the call time is, let’s say 9 am, I will be on set before 9 am. They say if you’re early, you’re on time, if you’re on time, you’re late and if you’re late then you’re fired.
I reach the set, I report to the AD (assistant director), letting him know I’m here. Sometimes they have me waiting in the greenroom or my honey wagon. I will then sit in hair and make-up and then wardrobe. Get into my outfit. I go over my lines sometimes, prep for my character. I will then be called in for blocking rehearsal, this is where we go through the motions of the scene. This is different from an actual rehearsal, which is done in pre-production. When we get to set, it’s go time. An actor must be prepared. After blocking, depending on how the director feels we can go for an actual take. We will film as many takes, from different angles, until the director feels ready to move on to the next scene.
Depending on what we are filming that day, and what scenes, our hair and makeup, and outfit will be changed accordingly. Sometimes we could be filming at different locations so the cast and crew will pack up and move to the next location.
If it is an emotional (usually a crying scene) scene, I like to take some time to myself, while the crew is setting up the next shot. I listen to music, do a few exercises that get me into the headspace of the scene.
Lunch is usually at the 6-hour mark of the day and after lunch, we resume to film the next scenes.
I’m on set typically for a 12 hour day. When we wrap, I like to take my makeup off on set, it’s a way of taking off the character, so I don’t take it home with me.
What are some of your key responsibilities?
- Show up! and be on time, like I mentioned before if you are early then you’re on time.
- Be prepared – I should know my lines already. I usually have the script beforehand. There are times when the night before the script changes, so an actor must be prepared to memorize at times paragraphs, even pages. Again we don’t spend time rehearsing on set, that should have already happened. Sometimes with certain sets, I have never had a rehearsal, nor met my scene partner but I have to be prepared and know my character and story.
- Be open – even with all the character building and emotional prep I do before filming, I always like to be open; to my scene partner, this way I am living in the moment and being present. My focus is on them and I am reacting truthfully. Also being open to the director’s feedback, things may seem one way in rehearsals but during the actual day it may feel different. We should be able to mould according to the director’s vision.
- Be imaginative – There are times where actors aren’t even reacting to the other actor, we are working off a “mark”, which can be a piece of tape or a tennis ball. It is my responsibility to use my imagination that that tennis ball is the love of my life.
- Take care of my appearance – If it’s a character that is a dancer then I would work out a little extra to keep my fitness up. Also we don’t want to cause an issue for the wardrobe department where you can’t fit into your dress!
What are the pros and cons?
Pros: I love working in a collaborative environment with other creatives; meeting new people. I get to do what I love, it can be very cathartic; if I am feeling sad then I can use that in my scene but also if I am sad and I need to be happy in the scene, it forces me to get rid of that energy too. I get to have some fun experiences (for free sometimes) like flying to other cities, a nice hotel room, going to the carnival or going to places like the museum but it’s open just for us. I also get to learn new skills sometimes, depending on my character; it calls for specific training like stunts or dance or learning an instrument. The food is also nice too and craft services, with their ice cream freezers. But mostly doing what I love with other people who share that love too.
Cons: Sometimes there are early call times like 5 am which means I get up at 3:30 am. The wait! In the industry, many people say an actor’s job is to wait, wait and wait and then act. There is a lot of sitting around at times, waiting for the crew to set up, other times it’s someone else’s scene – lots of waiting. Weather! I had to run bare feet in Union Sq once during winter!
play parts in stage, television, radio, video, or film productions, or other settings for entertainment, information, or instruction. Interpret serious or comic role by speech, gesture, and body movement to entertain or inform audience. May dance and sing.