Last Wednesday, I was honored to be part of a very special event – the filming of a Public Service Announcement (PSA). Lynne Matallana (President and founder of the National Fibromyalgia Association) conceived the idea for this special PSA three years ago.
Tired of hearing fibromyalgia described as “mysterious,” or “vague,” she set the wheels in motion to education the public. Sometimes wheels move very slowly. It took time, resources, and lots of convincing to get the script written, the right graphics animators hired, and a production crew assembled.
Her hard work came to fruition last week in one short day — although it didn’t seem very short. We filmed a 30 second spot in a mere 7 ½ hours.
I was honored to play the role of “lady with fibromyalgia.” I had to reach deep into my psyche to find my motivation. The role of “doctor” was played by Dr. David Silver, a rheumatologist from Beverly Hills. It was important to the NFA that “real people” appear in this production – not actors. They wanted actual people who are involved in the world of fibromyalgia. Truth-telling: one reason why I agreed to be involved with this project.
The concept of the PSA is to explain the science behind fibromyalgia. How, exactly, pain receptors in the brain amplify and distort pain signals. When people understand the “how,” then they can get past that issue and move forward with the “what.” What can be done about it? That’s the subject for future PSA’s.
I don’t know when the PSA will be ready, but more information will appear in the next issue of Fibromyalgia AWARE magazine. I’m sure they’ll have details on the availability, intended distribution, and even some photos, I believe.
Because the setup and technical filming aspects of each frame was quite tedious, I’m thankful that working with Dr. Silver turned out to be great fun. He was kind, friendly, and very patient. Did you catch that? A doctor with patience? Wow. It was a good thing since we did each scene a zillion times. The first scene’s retakes were my fault. I’m afraid it’s a lot harder to “look” like you have fibromyalgia than you think. The second scene’s retakes were due to sound, lighting, and getting our lines just right. I had it easy: just three words. Dr. Silver had a whole sentence to deliver, poor guy.
It gave us new appreciation for actors who memorize gobs of dialogue and stage directions every day. There couldn’t be anything less glamorous. The crew told us at the get-go that real filming is as exciting as watching grass grow. I disagree – I think it’s more like watching sheets dry on the clothesline.
First, there’s lots of picky preparation; getting them pinned to the line just right, proper sun and air quality levels, etc. Then, it’s hard to tell when they’re good and dry. You test, wait, re-test, and wait some more. In the end, you just hope that upon a closer look, the wrinkles don’t show.
All in a day’s work.