There was a time, not too long ago, where I spent time in front of the camera. Short segments. No feature length films. Just weekly clips talking and acting with a professional camera and cameraman/woman.
For the most part, my lines and roles were scripted – tightly or loosely. I memorized bits and ad-libbed. Followed director instructions and improvised in the moment.
Every shoot was different and fun. Frustrating and fulfilling. Challenging and comical.
The segments were masterfully edited by a talented team whose role was to make the people on video look good.
That’s what the public saw. The edited and clean cut videos perfected for human eyes.
What no one saw were the mistakes. The “cut! start over!” and “wait, that’s not it! what was my line, again?” or the “hold on, she’s laughing too hard – we can’t start yet” moments for those present.
And that’s the way we wanted it.
But editing doesn’t exist in the real world. In the real world, I make mistakes. I stop and start over. I re-trace my words and pick up where I left off. All without the assistance of cameras and computers to hide my flaws.
Unlike the gag reels and bloopers long since deleted from cameras and computers, I don’t always laugh like a five year old at myself the way I did in those botched scenes.
Bothersome and troublesome as that may be, the whole not laughing at major blunders deal, I feel like our world trains us to believe that someone is always watching – that someone, somewhere can see your mistakes and mark your score sheet without your knowledge. That you’re not allowed a single giggle or miss-cue. That you can only present the perfect and pristine – the edited version of you.
But editing doesn’t exist in the real world.
So why do we try to edit our dropped lines and start overs?
The real reality is that the bloopers – the outrageous tongue-tied slips that pop out only when a camera is pointed on you – that’s the real you. That’s the real me.
I don’t walk around perfectly edited with light checks and sound checks ensuring the ideal backdrop to every minute of every day. I speak words that would make Dr. Seuss jealous – ridiculous made up phrases that were meant to be words but came out jumbled.
Reality is in the blooper reel. And part of me grew accustomed to hiding it. Afraid of who is watching and what they’ll think – always trying to show the made-for-TV-me instead of the behind-the-scenes version.
With age and wisdom, I think I’m starting to see through the lights, camera, action way in which I lived my life. I think, with time and patience, I’ll come to enjoy living life on the blooper reel.
After all, the gag reel is the only reason why I buy DVDs.
I like watching people’s mistakes.
So maybe, someone out there – the person watching me – can learn from mine.
Because I sure am.