Kat’s (Definitely Not Definitive) Rules for Set Life

Life in Vancouver has been bliss. While I used to work in TV and film back home in Austria, set experiences here are a completely different matter. You can get so close to all the action and basically spend an entire day on set if you want to, I would have never expected that. People in Vancouver are so used to their city (and surrounding area) being occupied by film crews, most of them don’t even care to stop anymore unless it’s a scene for “Deadpool” (Seriously, the first question asked on any set is “Is this Deadpool?”). That means sets usually attract real fans or TV enthusiasts instead of random passersby and the crew does their best to accommodate these people while still trying to do their job. I think it’s only fair to not make their life any more difficult in the process, so here are some of my tiny tips and rules while visiting sets. *

*I am Jon Snow-ing this. I know nothing, I just pretend I do, so no guarantee on this working all the time.

RULE 1: Be Quiet

I was so used to just shutting my mouth mid-sentence whenever I heard someone scream “rolling” (pretty much what you’ll hear as soon as the cameras go on), that I didn’t even consider that some people might not know what that means. Technology is amazing these days and the microphones will pick up your voice for sure if you keep talking while they’re filming, even if you stand on the other side of the lot. I get that it’s exciting to be on set and to see your faves in action, you want to share that giddiness with the world, but there is nothing more uncomfortable than a crew member coming over to tell you that you just ruined a shot.

So, you don’t have to be mute the entire time. That would kind of defeat the purpose of the set visit, but just make sure you pay attention to when they are filming and when it would be more appropriate to be quiet.

RULE 2: Don’t Mess Up the Shot

This one goes kind of hand in hand with the previous one. Don’t just be aware of your sound volume, but also keep in mind the position of the camera. Most of the time PAs (Production Assistants, who you will recognise through their bright neon vests and solid attachment to their walkie talkies) will inform you if you are in the way, but you can make their life a lot easier if you just move on your own if you see they are changing the camera angle in your direction.

Also, even if you don’t feel like you are in the shot, move if the crew tells you to. This could have multiple reasons. For one, maybe you are wearing bright colors or fandom clothes and even if those were just in the periphery of the shot, they could be a real distraction. Second, and this isn’t the case very often but does happen from time to time, some actors/actresses prefer if the fans aren’t in their direct eye line while they are filming. As  pretentious as that sounds, imagine being deep into character and there are random people staring at you, sometimes even waving or maybe taking pictures from the other side of the street, it really ruins the mood. Speaking of cameras, this leads me directly to my next point.

RULE 3: Check What You’re Allowed to Photograph/Film

Most times it is perfectly okay to take pictures or film while you are on set, however, there can be certain restrictions to it. It may be due to the production not wanting certain details to leak (if certain characters survive/new costumes/special events or crossovers/etc.) before the release of the show/film or any other reason, but most of the time they prefer it if you don’t take pictures while they are rolling.

But don’t worry, essentially you’ll get plenty of chances to catch your faves during some fun behind the scenes moments and isn’t that better than the actual scene anyway? Now you just have to consider whether you really want to share those pictures on all your social media or not, because … spoilers?

RULE 4: Treat the Crew/Cast with Respect

Sometimes crew members will lie to you simply to get you out of the way. Sometimes actors/actresses had a rough day and don’t have the time to meet you. Don’t hold it against them. These people are only doing their job and believe it isn’t always an easy one. The hours are crazy, the concentration necessary is insane but they never actively try to work against the fans. They know that without them, they wouldn’t be able to work on their shows, but everyone has a bad day every now and then.

In my opinion this should be a no-brainer, but always treat the cast and crew with respect. There have been an increasing amount of incidences where fans were pulling and screaming at actors in an attempt to get a photo with them and it’s quite disturbing to be honest. Just because they lead a very public life, does in NO way whatsoever mean they are public property. I know that these people are a mere minority among the fans, but they are the loudest of them all and they overshadow all the others.

It is true that sometimes you have to be bold and go up to the person to chat with them and take a picture. No one will ever hold that against you and most people are really used to it (just don’t do it while they are eating. Seriously, don’t ever get between people and their food), but in most cases, the actors/actresses came up to the fans when they had the time. It means they don’t feel ambushed and may even be up for a little chat. To me, that’s the best case scenario.

In conclusion, I feel like most of these were pretty obvious ones, but apparently not to all people. Being on set can be exciting, but also super boring. Sometimes you just stand around for hours, not even really seeing what’s going on. It’s up to you to determine whether it’s worth it or not. I hope this post was a little helpful in case you want to try your luck one day. If you have any more questions, please feel free to ask them in the comments below!

TBT: My Mad Fat Diary (TV Review)

I don’t know what it is. Maybe it’s Thirteen ending last Monday and me missing Jodie Comer or because it features one of my all time favourite TV couples, but somehow I just feel the need to talk about My Mad Fat Diary!

First off, I used to love this show. It started in 2013 and had its final season last summer. On the one hand, I was sad that there weren’t more episodes, but on the other hand, I think the story might have been ruined if it had gone on for too long. The show is based on My Fat, Mad Teenage Diary written by Rae Earl, who is also the protagonist. But let’s see what it’s about:

Set in the mid-90s, My Mad Fat Diary follows the story of 16-year-old, 105 kg girl, Rae Earl, who just left a psychiatric hospital. She soon begins to reconnect with her former best friend, Chloe, who is unaware of what Rae went through. She neither knows about Rae’s mental health or her body image issues, instead Rae tells her she has spent the past couple of months in France. She keeps her secret bottled up while trying to make new friends and falling in love for the first time.

Cast: Sharon Rooney, Claire Rushbrook, Ian Hart, Nico Mirallegro, Jodie Comer, Dan Cohen, Jordan Murphy, Ciara Baxendale
Episode Order: 3 Seasons, 16 episodes in total
Running Time: 45 minutes

I was undetermined whether I would like it or not in the beginning. The accents are quite heavy and that can be so distracting sometimes, also, Rae is absolutely sex-crazy – which is both, hilarious and weird. However, the show completely won me over by treating serious topics with the kind of humour and wit that doesn’t ridicule the subject, but gets the point across to a broad audience. It treats mental illness with respect and that just makes you feel with the characters all the more.
Rae as a protagonist is just so authentic and so are her friends. Not all of them are supermodels, but all of them do have their very own quirks and flaws. In the end it is about friendship, family, facing problems head on and more importantly, about self-acceptance.

I for one laughed and cried and had butterflies in my stomach while watching this show. If you haven’t ever seen it before, I don’t want to tell you who Rae truly belongs with, that would ruin part of the journey. Just thinking about that person makes me swoon already though. However, I do urge you to check it out and give it a try for at least a couple of episodes!

So, this was a little throwback more for me than for you and I am off to watch some ship-related YouTube videos now. Tell me if you’ve ever heard of the show and if you’ve watched it in the comments!

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl (Movie Review)

Once again Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is a movie where I have actually read the book beforehand, but can’t remember it in much detail. Maybe I should really start reading them closer to the movie release date …


Genre: Drama/Comedy
Length: 105 min
Cast: Thomas Mann, RJ Cyler, Olivia Cooke, Nick Offerman, Connie Britton, Molly Shannon, Jon Bernthal …
DirectorAlfonso Gomez-Rejon
Writer: Jesse Andrews (for both, the novel and the screenplay)

Greg Gaines tries to survive High School by being on good terms with everyone but friends with no one. He usually spends his time making parody-like remakes of classic movies with his co-worker Earl. That is until his mother forces him to hang out with Rachel, a girl who just got diagnosed with cancer and who will profoundly change his life.

Me and Earl was originally a YA novel and reeked quite some havoc at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, igniting a bidding war for the movie. I have to say it is definitely one of the the better Indie movies out there and after the whole The Fault In Our Stars hype an original and refreshing take on the cancer-topic. Alfonso Gomez-Rejon puts his own spin on the story and makes every scene feel either beautiful, comical or deeply relevant.

I remember not liking Greg very much in the book and maybe he still isn’t the most likable character out there. Greg is just such a freaking liar, most of all to himself I think and that broke my heart. However, this time around I just felt so much more with him. And with Rachel as well. And also with Earl. I really have to say that all three (Mann, Cyler and Cooke) did a brilliant job with their respective characters. The adults were also cast very well, but they are just not the focus of the story.

I like that Me and Earl wasn’t pretentious or over the top. It had a beautiful cinematography, but often in the most simple ways. I can tell you that I was just crying by the end – the final message was just brilliant. I hope that this movie will get a bigger audience over time and won’t get stuck in the art-house or indie sector, because it does have commercial potential.

Fazit: I am glad that I’ve watched the movie. It made me feel so much more than the book.

What’s your take on Me and Earl and the Dying Girl? Do you prefer the book or the movie or like them both equally?

Writing/Editing Process

Hello there everyone! Doing yesterday’s Beautiful People meme really got me motivated to work on my novel Break Up Buddy again. FINALLY (after what? 9 months?) I finished reading my own story and as suspected it was terrible. The first half is pretty decent but the other one needs to go and be almost completely re-written. So far only one person has read the first draft and I don’t intend to show it to any more people until I’ve finished the second one.

The editing process is a pretty slow one, like you can’t just rush through it to be done with it. I’m glad I have my first draft, something of a structure to hold on to, but there’s still a lot to be done and I don’t have any idea how to go about it. Right now I am working through it chapter by chapter, being careful not to just copy and paste and make the same mistakes again. What about you? Do you have a system or any recommendations on how to go about the editing?

In return, and also to tell you a bit more about Break Up Buddy, I’d like to share with you some of my preparation techniques before I started writing! We’ve already established that Break Up Buddy is a ConRomCom and after figuring out the main plot (which I summarized here for you) I followed three simple steps:

Get to Know Your Character(s)

This step includes figuring out your character’s name, age, ethnicity, believes, values, occupation, appearance and so on.

My main character’s name is Raeleen Miller. She is about 23 years old, recently graduated from university majoring in English Lit and now works in a bookstore. She doesn’t have specific opinions concerning political parties, but she does have a strong moral compass of her own. I could go into depth here, but if I did that with all my characters this would take forever. My point is that I had to figure out a backstory for her before I started writing. I may not even need any of that information in the actual story, but it could prove helpful at some point when it comes to decision-making.

Also, I am a very visual person, so I need to actually “cast” all my characters. Here are some examples:

Read More »

The Martian Book Review & Movie Anticipation

I’m really making progress on my August TBR and The Martian by Andy Weir has easily become one of my favourite books ever! I can’t wait to share my thoughts with you guys, but I promise to keep the review as spoiler-free as possible (can’t necessarily say the same for the comments!)

The Martian

Mark Watney is one of the first people to have set foot on Mars and he will be the first to die there. At least that’s what he thinks when he finds himself stranded on the desert planet with no communication and running out of food. But Mark isn’t ready to give up just yet and uses everything he’s got (including his mad botany skills) to try and survive what Mars throws at him. Will it be enough?

There is not one moment where you’re not rooting for Mark Watney! He is such a great character, insanely smart and he never looses his humour which makes for some moments that will make you laugh out loud no matter where you are (even on public transport – I speak from experience!). The story is so engaging and exciting, I was often at the edge of my seat, wondering with what he would come up next.

Some people didn’t like the different POV’s that much but I really enjoyed Weir‘s style of writing. It starts out with log entries of Watney, but a few chapters in you also get to see what’s happening on earth in the meantime and at some point even the crew’s POV is added.

From what I understand, there are very few inaccuracies (aside from the tragedy’s initiating storm) in the story concerning the science. I am really no science or even technology buff, but everything explained made sense to me and was very understandable too. All the more credit to Weir, since he researched it all himself and didn’t have contact with NASA until after publication.

You may not believe it, but this book started out as a self-published science-fiction serial that the author used to publish for free on his website. Look where it’s now! It’s on top of Bestseller lists all over the world and about to be released in movie theaters! I’m so happy I decided to pick up this story!

Book Fazit: Solid 5/5 stars!

Talking about the movie, I am massively excited about it. I prepared (or rather just took an existing) playlist from YouTube including the Trailer and some prequel web exclusives (introduction of the crew and psych eval) to watch for you at the end of this post.

The cast includes Matt Damon as Mark Watney. Jeff Daniels, Kristen Wiig, Chiwetel Ejiofer, Donald Glover and Mackenzie Davies will be among the ground staff. Jessica Chastain, Kate Mara, Sebastian Stan, Michael Peña and Aksel Hennie conclude the team by portraying the rest of the Ares crew. I am really happy with the selection of actors and actresses, except maybe for Aksel Hennie as Alex Vogel. Why couldn’t they have picked someone who’s actually German to portray the role? I don’t have anything against him, but Hennie is Norwegian and while his accent does sound sort of German I suppose, he has to say actual German phrases or words and they do not sound right. Also, for some reason they changed Dr. Kapoor’s first name from Venkat to Vincent. Why? I have no idea.

Other than that I think they stayed really close to the book which makes me glad. Re-watching the trailer after reading the book,  I just recognise so many scenes. What are your thoughts? Let’s talk in the comments!

Testament of Youth Review

A while ago I watched the Trailer for Testament of Youth and I knew I wanted to know more about it. I bought the book or rather the memoirs of Vera Brittain, which the movie is based on, but I haven’t managed to finish it yet. Nonetheless, I finally decided to watch the movie and I do not regret not having waited any longer! I will keep this post Spoiler-free but I cannot say the same about the comments!

Here some basic facts:

Genre: Biography/Drama/History

Length: 129  minutes

Cast: Alicia Vikander, Kit Harington, Colin Morgan, Taron Egerton, Hayley Atwell, Emily Watson, Dominic West, Miranda Richardson …

Director: James Kent 

Testament of Youth is the real account of Vera Brittain’s life and keeping that in mind, the movie was just so much more heartfelt and heartbreaking than I thought it would be. I can tell you that they did not stick to the book a 100%, but that was a thing of impossibility anyway. What fascinated me so much about it though, was that the point of view wasn’t from someone at the front, someone involved in the actual fighting, but rather the view of a person who got left behind. Vera does everything possible to be of help, joining the volunteers as a nurse and in that way she witnesses her own horrors of war.

I always have my problems with war stories. There are never any real winners. Yet, the movie shows why people joined up, what their course of thinking was – their motivation. It also shows how war changed them and in consequence also their lives, their thinking and the people they love. Towards the end Vera gives an impressive speech in front of a pro-war crowd and she makes it her duty to never forget what happened to the people she cared about. I think we can all agree that she succeeded in doing that.

The movie is so beautiful and sad to watch (I’ll admit to having cried … a lot). The combination of strong visual pictures and quite striking poetry was extremely touching. Everyone involved did an extraordinary job and I was delighted with the work of  Kit Harington (Game of Thrones), Colin Morgan (Merlin), Taron Egerton (Kingsman) and even Hayley Atwell (Agent Carter) whom I barely recognised at first. The real reason to watch is Alicia Vikander (Ex_Machina) though! She gives a strong, sympathetic and worthwhile performance, that I’ll be sure to remember.

Fazit: very recommendable!

Have you watched it as well? Have any of you read Vera’s memoirs?

This Is Where I Leave You: Book vs. Movie

Since I haven’t talked about books in such a long time, and most of the books I read got adapted for the big screen,  I decided to compare the This Is Where I Leave You movie and book! Jonathan Tropper, the author of the book, also wrote the script for the movie, which lead me to believe that it would be a very faithful adaption. Some things definitely stayed the same, but there were more changes than I expected. I will give you a short summary of the synopsis and then name all the differences that I noticed, which means there are definitely Spoilers involved!

The core of the story didn’t change when it got adapted. This Is Where I Leave You deals with the fact that everyone mourns differently and that we all need our family sometimes – no matter how messed up it is. More specifically it is about four siblings and their mother, who have to sit Shiva (which is the mourning period in Judaism, where the first-degree relatives gather at one home and receive visitors for seven days). The family is not exactly close and it doesn’t take long for old rivalries, romances and accusations to surface again.

Now, before I get into full detail, I want to say that I liked the movie a bit more than I liked the book. The cast was chosen really well, consisting of Jason Bateman, Jane Fonda, Tina Fey, Adam Driver (so glad to see him in more movies now), Corey Stoll, Rose Byrne, Kathryn Hahn, Connie Britton, Timothy Olyphant, Abigail Spencer, Dax Shepard, Debra Monk and many more. The music was fitting the tone and I liked the pace of it. However, I think I enjoyed it more because I read the book before. Knowing all the background stories really helped making some scenes more emotional and meaningful. This Is Where I Leave You is one of those movies where you have to look at what’s underneath the surface to realise the struggle this family went trough and the love they have for each other.

But all that probably didn’t help you very much, so here are my more specific pointers on the differences between the movie and the book:

  • The first and most obvious difference I noticed was the fact that the family has a different surname. They went from Foxman to Altman for whatever reason … seriously, no idea why.
  • I enjoyed that we didn’t get to hear Judd’s thoughts. Of course that was necessary in the book – how else would you have told the story? But I sometimes really didn’t want to hear what he was thinking, especially not when he was horny again.
  • There was only one flashback to Judd’s childhood, which didn’t bother me while watching the movie at all, but ultimately ended up killing a lot of storylines. I usually don’t like flashbacks at all, but the one they did was perfect.
  • The entire background story of why Paul and Judd don’t get along was erased. Judd still dated Annie before she married Paul and that bothers him of course, but he no longer has this lingering anger towards Judd for ruining his career in sports. I actually liked that storyline in the book, especially because in the end it just amounted to a lot of miscommunication instead of actual feelings of hate.
  • The relationship between Judd and Penny was also different than in the book.  While teen book-Judd was madly in love with Penny, it seems that it was the other way round in the movie.
  • Okay, so there is this one thing, I am hugely relieved didn’t happen! Annie did not have sex with Judd in the movie! That was so messed up in the book and I just kept thinking how it would ruin Paul’s and Judd’s relationship forever, if Paul ever found out. Paul and Annie are such a lovely couple as well and while I understand Annie’s frustration about not getting pregnant, she went too far for my opinion.
  • The break-up between Tracey and Phillip was a little different. There wasn’t as much arguing involved and Phillip did not threaten to kill himself. I am not sure how I feel about that, but all the other scenes with Tracey were actually very faithful to the book.
  • Judd did not find out about Linda and his mother before all the others did. Which I sort of missed, because I actually thought the way he reacted when he first thought about it being a possibility was sweet. The way he just accepted it and didn’t judge them was great.
  • Judd never withdrew all the money from Quinn’s and his joined bank account.
  • I think I understood Horry’s and Wendy’s story a lot better, because I read the book. I could imagine some people not being as involved in their tragic, because they didn’t get the whole thing in the movie.
  • This is no particular difference, but Cole was beyond cute in the movie!

I hope I didn’t forget anything and I would love to hear your opinion! Have you read the book/watched the movie/both?