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Tuesday 12th January 2021

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Who'd have thought that sleeping in a freezing cold room, on a tiny bed, with the Welsh wind and rain battering your window and your mind full of regret at rubbish driving and fear of having to improvise a film over the next four days would make it hard to sleep.
But it was hard to sleep. And then worrying about having to be rested enough to do the job made it even harder to sleep. That's just perverse.
At times I was wondering if I was part of an expensive and largely pointless hidden camera show or whether all of this stuff was going to be the actual film.
Once again acting seems to involve sitting around in a very cold place, waiting to take part in some kind of ceremony whilst pretending to be Nick Helm's older relative. I said to Nick that from now on we should only accept acting jobs that fulfil that brief. He seemed up for it.
Though the castle was freezing and the weather was bad the room that was our green room was roasting hot. I think they like to keep actors either much too cold or much too hot in order to break them down and make then malleable, like they would a terrorist under interrogation. But it gave us a chance to get to know each other, despite the Covid restrictions that said we had to keep 2 metres apart, unless we were being filmed, because the virus believes that being photographed captures its soul and thus will make itself scarce.
It was a long 12 hour day and I wasn't filming for much more than an hour of it (I think from tomorrow it will be a bit busier as it's set at a small wedding and all of us will be in each scene, even if we're just in the background). It gave me a chance to rest up a bit and also to sort out a Welshman to come and fix my car. I inspected the damage and luckily it's only one tyre and not one of the brand new ones that were put on during last year's MOT (as I've driven less than 500 miles since then it would have been gutting to lose one of the new tyres). All being well the car will be fixed tomorrow, but I will probably then drive it over another spike. It's just easier to leave all the tyres flat so that that can't happen.
I guess I've been doing a lot of improvisation over the last few months so I was less scared about the prospect of throwing myself into my part (he isn't ostensibly a pervert or a man wanking in a bush, but he is at the wedding with an escort, so that does fit into my playing range). After the jolt of falling over playing football, I thought that this character, going through a midlife crisis, should also have fallen over on his way to the wedding (when stopping to have a piss in a layby). It might never get mentioned, but I muddied my trouser knees up a bit and was able to channel the feeling of impotence and stupidity that I had experienced on my own journey here. And then I had to be rude to a young woman, which I've been perfecting with my Peter Dibdin work, so the first scene required little acting.
I really enjoy this way of working, not least because it doesn't mean you're fretting about learning your lines. I always like leaving things to the last minute and doing the work as you're being filmed is as good as that gets. The cast were discussing dreams in the green room and someone mentioned the typical performers' nightmare of being pushed on stage in a production that you haven't rehearsed. I pointed out that we were living that nightmare right now.
But despite the setbacks, the coldness and then hotness and the responsibility of making the film work, spirits remained high. We're all lucky to be working at the moment, but this is a particularly interesting and creative project and every bit of bad luck is just another obstacle to be overcome.
By the time we got back to the student centre for dinner the hot water was back on and there was warm food and some alcoholic drinks (I am Dry Januarying - and maybe Dry 2021ing- so didn't partake) and we'd done some good work. I'd got through day one without feeling like I'd fucked up or spoiled the film and that's as much as I can hope as an actor. I'd also got my breasts out for the cameras too, so it's nice to buck the trend and provide a bit of titillation for the ladies and gay/bi men and for the straight men who enjoy looking at fat men's bodies. I think there might be worse humiliations to come for me or my character Keith (I don't think the director knows that that is my middle name, or my dad's name, but it's giving me a lot of enjoyment).
The room wasn't much warmer tonight, but I slept a bit more easily. Acting is the hardest job in the world.


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