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there is always something (why I shoot film)

There are maybe ten shots left on the roll. Outside the metro, a collection of pigeons sit on minuscule ledges above two old men. They talk as all old men do, with operatic waves of their hands, sour expressions, belly laughs, eventually scratching their chins as they stare off at nothing in particular. I am pretending to take pictures of something near them, then swing across when they are not looking to shoot a few frames. At one point I surrender to the afternoon and move on.

And now, the courtyard that leads to the film lab. A great old building rests here, a school of architecture where students mill around dressed in black sucking on cigarettes with giant portfolios tucked under their arms. A young man approaches me. I am ready to tell him I have no idea what he is saying, but he wants to know where the film lab is. I jut my chin, telling him the door is just beyond a few bushes. He nods his thanks.

There are screens set up in a jagged line, sheathed in filthy white plastic to …

she knows



The call comes. I ask E if she is interested. She shrugs her shoulders. It has been about a year since she did a voice record. I can't tell if she is removed or wants to do it. I ask her directly, yes or no and no is ok. She wants to. I think of parents I have seen, ones that push things on their children, tricking them, guilting them. I want her to chose this, or to have a normal Friday afternoon. We could just go for sushi and look out the big windows at the people on the street below. 

I take her from school the next day. We order a taxi, siting hot in the back seat in traffic. The weather changes so quickly here. We go upstairs, and wait for half an hour but I remind her how important it is to be on time. She nods, she knows. 

The script is long with plenty of alternates. I hear her voice through the speakers, so serious these days, and she needs to slow down. The directions come, little fixes to the text get made. She sits, a little slumped, pencil in hand. I hear her struggling in a good way, searching, finding the right balance, finding the way to go up at the end of a sentence even though the urge is to go down. Man, she sounds too much like me, I tell myself. This is surreal. Well, she has been on this side of the glass for so many of my voice records, am I really surprised? 

She needs to sound younger, more innocent, more naive. I tell her to shrug her shoulders a little, to feel the curl of the corners of her mouth go up and how that changes the sound. People always want it to sound sweeter, happier. 

And all at once we are done and people are shaking hands and bowing heads and little avalanches of thank yous are raining on us. I pull her close, tell her quietly that she did good, that it was a tough script and a long one. Her chin pinches up, her eyes as big as saucers. 

She knows. 




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