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Austin Actors
Maxine Shapiro

Generation Xers...not as lost as you think
by Maxine Shapiro

August 2000

I just wrapped up my first full-length low budget independent film. It’s a nice supporting role, especially for my premier performance on screen. But this isn’t about me. First off, the terms "low budget" and "independent" mean nothing more than that. There is as much talent, heart, passion and dedication to this project as I’ve ever seen. From the director who has the patience of a saint to the key grip. This is about the production crew — who broke every prejudgment and cliché I had about the Generation Xers. They are focused, they are creative and this crew is definitely not lost.

Maybe I’m just out of touch, but being around these kids — and that’s what they are — has been one the more inspirational and eye-opening experiences about this film.

First let’s take the cinematographer, the cameraman. Committed, keen, and loves what he does — enough to stand hour on end with the sun beating down on his head half of that time with a 35-lb. camera on his shoulder. He has a quiet yet intense demeanor. After we shot the first scene I was in, my insecurity was screaming inside me enough to just bolt over to him and without even thinking I whispered, "So how did I look?" He gave a smile and said, "Good." After the next scene our eyes met and he gave me a thumbs up. Whether it was true or not made no difference. He understood what I needed without making me feel embarrassed.

The soundman always cracks me up. This film is being shot out at Cedar Creek Lake and you can imagine all the exterior noises with which we have to compete. He’s very tall and needs to hold the 9-foot boom microphone. Although he hears every word, his concentration is not with the script — it’s with plane above, or the not so occasional motorboat or Sea-Doo that frustrate him. Though a very gentle man, the sound of baby birds chirping turns him into Attila the Hun. It makes me laugh.

The 1st assistant camera is very quiet. I was sitting listening to a conversation with these guys. They were discussing what physical features they’re attracted to in the opposite sex. Mike insisted that for him it was all about personality. The other members of the crew gave him such grief that he finally said, "Eyes. I’m attracted to eyes. Okay?" When was the last time you met a nice looking twenty year old caring more what’s on the inside than the outward appearance?

Then there are the young women. The key grip who helps set up the dollies for the camera also doubles as the clapper — the one who holds the board and says, "Persistence of Vision: Scene 6, Take 2" and claps the board. Sometimes they change the name of the movie on slate to some pretty colorful titles. Hey, you gotta keep it light. She looks just like Leslie Gore. She feels she’s been around the block a few times, but there’s still an innocence about her I find totally refreshing.

Finally, the production manager. Brassy, confident and sometimes a little impatient with my "new kid on the block" questions. Oh, does she remind me of me when I was her age. She’s not afraid to take control and is damn good at what she does.

Remember these young people are getting paid virtually nothing. They’re not in front of the camera. A little tired sometimes from staying up too late the night before, but they're there working hard literally rain or shine. I believe in them. They will make it. This is not what I expected from a generation that’s gotten a really hard rap. So the next time you’re watching a movie try to stay for the credits. Even if you don’t recognize the names — stay. The music is usually good and these people really do deserve the respect.

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