Some Kind of Superstar: Part Six
First day and I’m woken up by my alarm at five in the morning. I feel really tired, but it should pass. It seems that around here you adapt pretty quickly to the irregular sleeping patterns. You’re awake when you need to be and sleep whenever you can. I heard a story from Seth yesterday about a boy who was filming a scene where his mum tucked him into bed; he fell asleep. On set! On camera! It got ‘Most Popular Blooper Award’ for Year 7. He’s never been able to live it down. Everybody’s forgotten his real name; they just call him Sleepyhead or Sleeping Beauty or Snoozy or something sleep-related.
I crawl out from under my super-warm duvet into the freezing cold air and seize up. I can’t move; I’ve been paralysed with cold.
“Chilly, huh?” grunts Seth. “If you want an alarm, make it a quieter one!” she says in the tone of somebody who just got woken up and really didn’t want to be.
“Sorry,” I whisper. “Really sorry.”
“Nice and warm under here,” she giggles, before turning over to go back to sleep. I mutter something rude in her direction and she hurls another insult and some item at me. As it wraps around my head spike I realize it’s a sock.
“You sleep with socks in your bed?” I ask incredulously. I flick it back at her and keep getting dressed. “Mind if I borrow your torch?” Without waiting for an answer I switch it on. It’s powerful but small, with a carefully directed beam so the whole trailer doesn’t light up. According to my schedule, I’ve got to be up at five, eat breakfast by six, be in the right makeup trailer – and there are at least twenty – by six-fifteen, and from there get to the set by seven. Then filming until the crew gets hungry (no kidding, that’s what it says!) then back to filming until the crew gets tired (again, direct quote). Sounds like a long day.
Makeup is fun. I practically get to go back to sleep, just so long as I keep my face still. And it’s not that extreme, really; just a bit of stuff to tone my skin. All the lights on set and stuff mean that you can look really washed out and faded, like an old pair of jeans. So they put some purple creamy stuff over my face. Thankfully I’m not allergic; Seth’s told me horror stories of rashes and burns from this stuff. After that they check my nails and make sure they look presentable, before giving me an industrial-grade teeth-cleaning. I just sit there with my lips as wide as they can be, while this little robotic arm thing zaps around inside my mouth. It sure beats brushing manually with toothpaste dribbling down the handle of the brush and the bristles all hard and scratchy on your gums.
Then it turns out that I haven’t attended what’s called a ‘tone meeting’ to discuss the intricacies of my character with the directors – what she’s like, how she talks, how she walks – so I didn’t actually need to get up at five and go through makeup after all! So I go into the one actual proper building in the place, which is where the editing suites are, and the hall where the music is recorded, and the offices and stuff. It’s all very nice and new and shiny; mahogany walls and floor, mirrors on the ceilings; one-way windows. I knock on a door conveniently labelled ‘Caulfield Lane Tone Meeting’.
“Come in,” calls a man’s voice from inside. I twist the handle and walk in. The interior is, again, mahogany with mirrors, with a long, darkly stained desk down the middle. Plush-looking office chairs line the table. There are only three other people in the room; a Green Eyrie in a very smart suit; a Red Kyrii with pens and paper surrounding her; and the Gold Ogrin who was at my audition. I nod a ‘hello’ to him and the others. A chair is indicated and I sit down.
“You’re the only new character this week,” says the Ogrin. “You were cast very late, so the others in the new family have been here for a week or so already and gone through this stuff. That’s good, because we can devote more time to making you feel comfortable. Now, please get into the character, like this is being filmed for the show.” I already know a bit, because the week between my two auditions was basically nothing but studying my character, or as much as I could. I read, re-read, and re-re-read the script; I looked up everything about the new character in the Neopian Times; I even bought Neovision Magazine to find an article in that.
“Where do you go to Neoschool?” asks the Kyrii. I think she’s a she, but I’m not sure. Could be either.
“Altador Educational Academy,” I answer after a moment’s thought.
“And what do you think of your Neoschool?”
“It’s a dump.” That answer needs no thought at all. “I hate it. The teachers are snobby, the kids are foul-mouthed and loud, and the air conditioning doesn’t work.”
“Higher pitch, please,” the Eyrie injects suddenly. “Just a little.” I nod and try again, repeating my sentence. I get a nod of approval for my efforts.
“Who are your friends?”
“Marcus, Malcolm and Katee.”
“Why are they your friends?”
“Um...” This is not in the script, not in the articles, not anywhere I know of. So I make something up that sounds like my character. “I met Katee in the shopping centre... and we started fighting because we both wanted the same thing...” I look up and the Kyrii waves at me to continue. “Marcus knocked me down the stairs at school, but he was really nice about it... and Malcolm and I were in the same club at school.”
For some reason, they think this will help me understand my character better, even though I’m making most of this up and not getting anything new from them. But as far as I can tell, she’s pretty much like me, only with a higher voice and a bit stupider, and rather more concerned with ‘girly’ things like magazines and makeup. But they also talk me through things about my character, including reading out several sections of script and discussing in detail what they add to her. My character. Her name is Abigail, usually shortened to Abby.
After that I meet up with several of my co-stars and we all have lunch together. There’s Kyle, a Green Shoyru, who’s playing the dad; Robin, Red Shoyru, who’s the grandmother; Adrienne, Striped Shoyru, who’s the sister; and James, a Split Shoyru, a cousin. James, I can tell straight away, is a prat. A loudmouth. A thunderer. It seems physically impossible for him to shut up. Adrienne is quieter, but a herd of stampeding Elephantes during an earthquake is a hurricane is quieter than James. Kyle seems like an ordinary guy. Talks loudly and about nothing much. Likes barbeques. Robin doesn’t talk much either, but when she does you know, because you’re on the floor cringing with your hands over your ears, willing to do anything to stop her horrible voice. Hearing it sounds like dragging steel wool through your brain.
So that’s my crew. That’s my family for however long I’m here. I am going to be working with these pets, practically living with these pets, and we can’t have any tensions. If we don’t get along, it’s going to show on screen. You can tell, even down at the drama class level back at school. When pets are put in groups with other pets they don’t like, the group is guaranteed to be appalling. Well, we can’t afford to be appalling here. If we’re not good enough at school, we might get a fail grade. If we’re not good enough here, we get fired, and I lose my chance at making a career out of this. I can just imagine career planning with the teachers at Neoschool:
“So what job do you think you’d like to do when you grow up?”
“Oh, I’ve already got a job, thanks! Don’t you watch Caulfield Lane? I’ve been on Neovision every week since Year 10!”
But if this doesn’t work out, then:
“Well, I was an actor for about a week... but the whole thing got cancelled because we couldn’t get along with each other. Maybe I could serve up slices of Omelette? Putting on the toppings and such? Perhaps help the Soup Faerie out?” So begins the saga of Omelette-server, Soup-stirrer Kristen. No, thanks. I want my name on that screen, I want to be watched by millions of Neopets, I want to be people’s favourite character, I want people to watch things just because I’m in them. Although maybe those last two are asking a bit much.
There’s a call over the PA. “All Caulfield Lane family number five to set twenty-six. All Caulfield Lane family number five to set twenty-six.”
“That’s us,” says Kyle, throwing down his cutlery.
“Really?!” I squeal, suddenly hyperventilating. I force myself to calm down and take deep breaths.
“You’ve never done this before, have you?” Robin asks. Her voice is even worse than the Techo who took my auditions. When she spoke, you didn’t want to rip your ears right off of your head and use them to plug up the auditory canal.
“No,” I answer. “But I’m ready to.”
To be continued...