Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Wednesday Words: Like A Scene From A Horror Movie

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Deep dark woods

Don't read this if you're squeamish. If you aren't, click here and you'll read the rest...

When I was sixteen and waiting to start college, I took part in a summer school, to try and get a feel for the place. It was a beautiful hot summer, and I'd been a bit cooped up after spending it doing exams and waiting for the results. After a while I was actually quite fed up of all the lie ins and time in the garden with a book (ha, I know!), and really glad to do something different! On the list of options I chose the one suited to my course (at the time, A Levels in Media, Performing Arts, Photography and English): Make A Film Trailer. Sounds like fun, I thought.

Upon arriving at the college on my first day I met the other people taking part and we were all split into groups. I was the only one there from my school and I knew NO ONE. Terrifying. Luckily a few of the girls (and a couple of the boys) decided to talk to me and make me feel more comfortable, which was nice but I was still secretly nervous as hell. We spent the rest of the day walking around the grounds doing a recce (finding a decent location to film - yes, we were speaking the lingo already on day one!) and planning the film trailer. What I didn't expect was that the genre we were all expected to make trailers for were horror films... During our recce we stopped off in the woods and had a look around in the shady, secluded woods. The lecturer handily stopped us and said, "Now, on health and safety grounds, there will be no dead bodies, okay?"

After much discussion we agreed on using the main college block, the lifts and the woods. I'd kind of zoned out by 2pm (I realised that I could do with a lie in and time in the garden with a book) and when I was asked the only question by one of the boys (who had appointed himself camera man and director, naturally) I said yes without thinking. "Okay," the boy said, scribbling down on a notepad, "So, Rach, you're going to be covered in blood and discovered dead in the lift." My face went white. What the hell had I just signed up to? "We've got a brilliant beauty student who's doing a certificate in stage makeup," the lecturer offered. "I'll ask her to do the honours." I smiled and said, "Okay then, what should I wear?"

That was the problem. What to wear. Going through the wardrobe that night looking for old clothes, I found an old school blouse. That'll do, I thought, pairing it with an old pair of beige cargo pants, splattered in paint. Maybe I could be an office worker who likes a spot of DIY?

The next day, filming began in earnest in the woods. We filmed one of the girls, wearing a short black wig, walking down the path, all dramatically, before turning around and emitting a scream so piercing it could wake the dead or start a zombie apocolypse, whichever came first. "And CUT!" That done, we headed into the main college hallway, where the steep stairs stared omniously at us, behind a huge window. "Shall we get some footage of someone screaming and banging on the glass?"

Everyone turns to look at me. "Yeah, okay then!" I offer, with a bit too much enthusiasm, whilst the camera is being set up on the balcony opposite the stairs. I decide to run off and run up the stairs, waving to the camera man once I'd got there and was able to breathe. He gave me the nod and a countdown on his fingers. 3... 2... 1...

"HELP HELP HELP HELP HELP HELP HELP HEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEELLLLLLLLLLLLP!!!!!!!!!!!!" I shrieked, banging the glass (which was actually perspex) as hard as I could. I almost lost my voice, I was so hoarse. I could see the camera man putting his thumbs up to say he'd got it in one take, which was lucky. I ran back into the main hall only to see a huge commotion between our group and a member of staff from a neighbouring classroom looking annoyed! Oops.

After lunch (and a big bottle of water for me) we went into the classroom where a huge vanity case and several tons of various items of makeup, brushes and bottles of fake blood were scattered on the desks. I knew it was my turn in the spotlight, so I took a seat and waited patiently, before one of the beauty students came in, casually dressed in a jumper and jeans. "Hi, I'm here to do your makeup?" "Oh, yes, that would be me!" I smile. "So, what would you like doing?" "Well, I know I have to be covered in blood..." I start to say before stopping, as I have no bloody idea where to have blood spurting from. "Um... maybe I could have a big cut on my neck?" I suggest. The beauty student nods and then gets to work.

What I went through was one of the most bizarre experiences of my life. After having my face and neck covered in a pale powder, the student pulled out a small pot of something out of her vanity case. "It's putty," she says, spotting my confused expression, "to make the cut," while moulding a small sausage out of this flesh coloured Blu Tack I never knew even existed. She flattened it, applied some watery adhesive to the back of it, and then stuck it to my neck, flattening it down. It was so cold! The next thing I knew, I felt her pressing against my neck with the end of a paintbrush, making a line through the centre of the putty sausage hybrid. As well as being a bit squicked out by the process, I was also fascinated. I wonder if it's like that on TV? Several of the other people attending the summer school milled in and out and some stayed to watch. "Whoa... what are they doing to you?" they ask me. "I'm going to be dead," I say, all casually with a wave of the hand, the beauty student trying not to laugh.

The blood came next. Fake blood, that is. The student pulled out several small bottles of the stuff, undid the lid and painted it onto the putty cut, letting the cold, red stuff drip from the cut, right down my neck! (I felt just a bit uncomfortable. Wet stuff running down my neck into my clothes? Ewwww!) That wasn't all though. She then flicked a load of the fake blood at my neck, in my hair, and down my chest. The things I do for my art, dahling...

Before I knew it, I was officially done (and dead) - ready to step out into the limelight (or rather, the lift) as... Dead Girl In A Lift.

As the lift had been refitted a year before, it was all decked out in fancy glass panels including a glass door you could open yourself, which is perfect if you have a video camera. Oh, and a corpse. The beauty student came with me. "Just in case I need to add more makeup," she says. "Plus, I really want to watch this."

We stood on the top floor, waiting for the lift to arrive, the camera crew waiting on the ground floor, camera prepped and ready. Once the lift was ready, I stepped in, and lay down in a foetal position with a bit of a twist, neck showing. The student flicked more fake red at me, this time mainly my face, and my neck and a ton of it in my hair. "It's going to look so good on camera," she says, "I love it." My hair on the other hand, was screaming bloody murder at her.

She presses the G for Ground Floor button, and shuts the door before waving me off. I close my eyes. Have you ever decided to lie down in a lift before with your eyes shut? No, me neither. As I descended, I heard the group assembled on the ground floor. "And... cut. Rach, that was really good!" as the door opened. "Don't mind doing it again, do you?" "Yeah, sure," I say, feeling comatose. Floor three, going up.

Once my big scene was done we'd pretty much wrapped the trailer. Dead Girl In A Lift's farewell tour over and done with. Walking back to the car park, past my old school field (I made sure to wave to a few of the teachers, in my undead state, just for the lols), and when I went to get my lift, my Mum looked at me, wide eyed. "It's so realistic!" she gasped. Then came the hard part: trying to sit in the car without covering it in fake red stuff. I ended up on the journey home sitting on one of those silver windscreen covers...

Journey done, a hot shower was in order, the fake blood washed away with ease, and the putty was thankfully discarded. I was no longer Dead Girl In A Lift. I was Rach, Horror Movie Trailer Star, The Girl Who Took A Risk. Despite knowing none of the other people taking part in the summer school, I took a deep breath, and gave it my best shot. I let myself get covered in makeup, just for an afternoon of whizzing up and down in a lift. I met a few new people, who were all very nice. I made a brilliant poster for our horror movie, while the girls made a helium-pitched theme song in the music tech rooms and the boys edited the footage in the media room. The trailers were even beamed onto a big screen in the theatre for everyone to watch the next day. It was a success, dahling, a success! I looked rather realistically not alive in the lift, which surprised even me!

And finally, a week later, an old lady stopped me in a shop and asked if I was okay. "Um, yes, I'm fine," I said, feeling a bit nervous. "It's just..." the elderly lady said. "The other day. You looked like you had been hurt in an accident or something." "No, I was fine," I reply back. What accident?! "And all you were worried about was getting blood on the car seats, well I never!" she tutted. It all clicked into place then.

Wednesday Words is my new attempt at writing a little bit every Wednesday documenting untold stories from my life and some of my own personal embarrassing moments.

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