29 April, 2008

Twilight Set, Day One: Ecola State Park- La Push scenes

*Author’s Note: I was on set for three days, so there’s going to be at least three different entries- it was just too much good information to condense into one entry. It will most likely end up being more like four or five entries as I think I’m going to need to explore a few things about the adaptation process essay-style, but I’ll at least have an entry per day that I was on set. So here’s Day One, the others will be soon to follow.

Ecola State Park, Indian Beach- La Push scenes

The day was a bit of an adventure from the very beginning. I decided to leave Portland ridiculously early because I’m a smidge anal and never want to risk missing something due to delays (I’m the kind of person who arrives four hours before a domestic flight). So I left Portland at 8, even though I didn’t have to be at Cannon Beach until 11:30. My first sign that the day was going to be an event was when the temperature gauge on my rented Subaru read 31 degrees and these white things were hitting my windshield. Snow! Snow was falling, heavily, and quickly accumulating on the ground. That was fine, but as I descended through the pass, all of those fluffy white flakes turned into big, fat raindrops. The day promised to be a very wet one, so I was very grateful for my rain suit and Wellies!

Of course I was incredibly early, so I went to breakfast at a local diner and prepped my notes for the day, all while listening to the hammer of the rain on the windows and roof.

I had agreed to meet Peter Silbermann, the film’s publicist, at Base Camp, and after much confusion, two trips in the company van, finding a parking spot on the set and wandering down towards the beach, our paths finally crossed. Peter was gracious and welcoming, although I’m guessing he was initially a bit wary of me. He has been fending off rabid fans and set-crashers for 43 days of filming, and I’m sure he was hoping I wasn’t a part of that over-zealous crowd. By the end of the day I think he was confident I wasn’t going to run naked across the set or steal anything from Rob Pattinson’s trailer, as I was invited back for the subsequent day of filming.

This first day on set, they were filming the scene where Bella (played by Kristen Stewart) is walking down the beach of La Push and Jacob (Taylor Lautner) is telling her the legend of ‘The Cold Ones,’ and the true nature of the Cullen family. I was still getting a feeling for the place: where I would be most out of the way but still able to observe things, and perhaps even where I could stay dry, so I just stood along the beach watching the sound guys set up, the lighting placed and replaced, the script supervisor double checking that the correct words were being uttered, the director running between all of these groups and the actors contemplating and waiting patiently to bring this pivotal scene from the book to life. They were filming on Indian Beach; a gentle crescent of sand, ringed in piles of sea-smoothed stones that stop abruptly at a sixty-foot cliff wall. Having seen the actual La Push a few weeks ago, this is actually more of what I pictured in my head for the beach. I found the actual La Push to be more developed than I thought it would be, and this beach at Ecola State park was remote, untouched, covered in multiple-colored stones, adjacent to a notorious cliff and the beach was covered in driftwood. Not as much as the actual La Push beach, but it still perfectly served my imagination for the location for this scene.

While staring at the scene with sheets of rain pouring over everything, I was introduced to Joan, Peter’s wife and a lovely, lovely lady. She pointed out who was who on the beach, giggled alongside me when we caught a glimpse of Kristen Stewart and Catherine Hardwicke, and explained what a few of the terms that I didn’t know were. Also on the beach were some of the staff of the Twilight Lexicon website. They are the number one Twilight fan site, and very pleasant people to be around. They are certainly fans and avid supporters of the books, films, and everything Twilight, but they are professional, patient and very friendly; and as they were also invited to the set by Peter, it was obvious that they did not fall into the category of crazy gate-crasher fans either. The crew filmed the scene numerous times from many angles, with Catherine Hardwicke running to the actors between takes to discuss their lines, facial expressions and expectations for each take. As this scene was wrapping up, they were originally planning on setting up the bonfire scene at the other end of the beach, but Mother Nature had other plans.

The rain was like standing under a waterfall. It pooled in every slightly sunken spot and gushed in tidal rivers down to the sea. It not only made delivering lines difficult, but it was dangerous for the crew, so they decided to change the location of the scene. I found this immediate change to the story to be really interesting. Of course my initial reaction to anything changing from the book is usually shock and disgust; I normally think of it as sacrilege… but the more time I spent on this set and the more time I’ve spent studying adaptations, I realize that there is no way for the film to be a perfect recreation of the book. It is going to be a new version of the book. Everything written must be conveyed visually, and possibly very differently than the image we have created in our minds; as a different medium, we can’t expect to have the same tools utilized to execute the feelings of the books. Just as we use different language in writing a letter to someone than we do in conversation, film has to be more fluid, and readily adaptable to appeal more visually. That being said, this film may have changed a number of things that I was surprised about, but the structure and spirit of the novel is always in the forefront of any change. It also helps that Stephenie Meyer, the author, was so involved in the adaptation process. She has read every word of the script and has approved it. She has said that she realizes that this is a different medium and certain changes need to occur; not only does she permit them, but she comes up with many of them and has even said that she wished she had thought of a few of the added elements herself!

Additionally, I began to realize that this is a workplace; the cast and crew have to adhere to certain levels of safety and time constraints, so they couldn’t wait around for the sky to clear to film a bonfire scene just because that’s how it was in the book. Instead, they moved the location to the opened door of Tyler’s parked van, and had the kids talking just as they would have been talking around the fire; the action was not interrupted and the dialogue, while perhaps not word for word from the book, translated the exact same feeling (at least to me) as the text of Twilight does. I did feel bad for Kristen Stewart by the end of it though as she had to eat Red Vines throughout the scene; I can’t even imagine how many she consumed. She must have been sick!

It was great to see these actors embrace the characters, live, in person. It didn’t take more than 10 seconds to believe that Kristen Stewart was Bella. She is a serious and dedicated actress who is most definitely channeling all that Bella encompasses; she seemed to be very internal, processing and preparing herself before every shot. Granted I haven’t seen a lot of actors in action, but I was very impressed by her process and performances. Not one of the actors struck me as incorrect, flippant or lackadaisical. There seemed to be a general respect for the work, and certainly a pleasant camaraderie among the actors both on and off camera. This was evident as they were goofing around in the catering tent just as I’m sure Sam, Embry and Jacob would have been rough-housing in their own down time too. I was also struck by the costuming of the actors. Sam, Embry and Jacob were dressed in an eclectic mix of teenage punk-wear, complete with converses and skinny jeans, and traditional tribal wear like woven blankets and knives. Bella had a simple maroon rain coat and adorable wellies, and Jessica’s pony-tailed head was covered by a cute pageboy cap.

Although the weather was tough- in fact all but one member of the crew agreed that it was the worst day of shooting they’d ever had in their careers (the one was stuck on K2 once and the helicopter couldn’t get up there to get them… certainly worse!)- the downtime during the squalls ended up being a very welcome thing as it gave me ample opportunities to talk with some members of the cast, as well as two of the wonderful producers, Greg Mooradian and Wyck Godfrey. Greg was one of the first people involved in the project, as it was he who first came upon Twilight before it was even published. He secured the rights, and was involved in the adaptation process from day one. I asked him why this book stood out amongst others that he had read, and he said that it wasn’t the prose or structure of Meyer’s work, and it wasn’t just the vampires. He saw “love story, love story, love story.” He said there was something so engaging about the “out of town girl who falls for the guy that her parents wouldn’t approve of, and is just taken in by the force of this first love; the struggle for love over death….giving up life to live forever with love.” He was “riveted by that conflict and [he] had never seen that film before.” He said he was sold the minute that Bella asked Edward how long he had been seventeen and Edward replied, “Awhile.” From that point on he was enthralled, and assumed that others would be swept up in the story just as he was; obviously others have been, as Twilight is a number one New York Times bestseller and it was the most recent book in the Twilight series, Eclipse, that knocked Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows out of the number one spot.

Greg’s passion and enthusiasm for the work is evident as he describes working with Catherine Hardwicke (the director), Melissa Rosenberg (the screenwriter) and Stephenie Meyer (the author) to create a visually stunning film, full of excitement and action that never strays from the underlying love story of the book. His continuous mantra was “keep your eye on the prize.” Whatever adapting they had to do in order to make the successful novel translate into a successful film could never take away or cheapen the “prize” that was the love story between Bella and Edward. He emphasized that “everything we did came back to that.” They have made minor changes, particularly with regard to the location of some scenes that are static in the book (i.e. a discussion between Bella and Edward in the car might be moved outside so other things are happening visually instead of just the inside of the car), and they have admittedly beefed up some of the action sequences to make it visually exciting as well as more cross-genre. I couldn’t help but wonder if this move may appeal to guys who are forced to accompany their girlfriends to the film- they may surprise themselves and actually end up enjoying the film for its great story as well as its kick-ass stunts, fights and super-hero elements.

I then spoke to Wyck Godfrey, a veteran producer who has worked on a number of adaptations from Eragon to I, Robot, to The Nativity Story with Hardwicke and now Twilight, I asked him what was different about this film than other films he has worked on. He paused a moment, and then said, “I think this is the purest adaptation I’ve ever worked with. Even The Nativity Story, which was very close to the gospel and we had a great researcher working on that… this was just bang on. We went to great lengths to keep every beat that worked in the books and that the fans would be looking for.” Like Greg, he admitted that many things had to change because so much of the story was internal, in Bella’s mind, so it was difficult to dramatize that inner-action, but he read the book, and then read the script, and was floored by how close they were to each other.

We continued to chat for awhile about other works at which I was looking, they joked with me about working on “three good adaptations, and two bad adaptations,” (I’m assuming The Dark is Rising and The Golden Compass are the bad ones in their eyes, as they are in mine), we shared as many synonyms for rain, downpour, deluge etc. that we could come up with, and I was grilled about what the heck took me to Wales and how was I in Oregon at the drop of a hat if I was in school there. Lots of explaining commenced! At this point, of course Mother Nature laughed at us again as halfway through the filming of the van scene the skies began to clear, the rain stopped, and this thing called the Sun poked out from behind the craggy cliffs. Silly Oregon weather…

Sadly it was too late to set up the bonfire scene, but at least the end of the days filming had a bit of sunshine, just as it did in the book.

It was the final day of shooting for most of the humans (Jacob, Mike, Tyler, Sam, Embry…) so there were many hugs exchanged and cheers from the crew for a job well done. I snapped a few gorgeous pictures of the Oregon coast, of the director exalting in the experience, said goodbye to the Twilight Lexicon staff, and then left Ecola Park to head back to Portland for the evening, stoked for what my next day would bring me, but anxious to get dry and warm!

View All of the shots on my webshots album

Reelz.com was there the same day that I was, and they've just released a video of their day on set. It gives you a nice visual of the day!

Next: Port Angeles (as played by St. Helen’s, OR); dress shopping, the infamous restaurant scene, and meeting some very special guests.

25 April, 2008

Twilight Set report on its way

Just thought I'd check in and say that the last few days have been incredible and that a full set report will be coming in the next few days/weeks. There aren't enough adjectives to emphasize the last few days. As a groupie it was brilliant to meet 'Edward' and 'Bella' and see the visaul depiction of these characters that we've grown to love immensely, but from an experiential stance.... this has been such a great exposure to the filmmaking process. My kudos are unending to Greg and Wyck, two of the producers, who shared with me their thoughts and experiences in the adaptation process and allowed me to remain close to the action and observe the filming.

The first day on set was at Ecola State National Park filming the La Push scenes where Jacob tells Bella what the Cullens actually are, yesterday was in St. Helen's filming the dress-shop scene with Angela and Jessica, and then the dinner scene after Edward saves Bella from the frat boys and he spills the beans that he can read minds. Tonight is their final day of shooting in Oregon and it's a night shoot, so that should be a chilly but exciting experience! Then they're off to LA for a couple of days and then they're done!

Here are a couple of pictures to whet the appetites for my next posts which will be more fleshed out, and detail filled. They are: Kristen Stewart getting soaked on the beach (it was pouring. 99% of the cast and crew agreed it was the worst day of filming they've ever been in). The second picture is Catherine Hardwicke (director), then Taylor Lautner as Jacob, a screen shot of the restaurant scene between Edward (Robert Pattinson) and Bella (Kristen Stewart), and the scene outside of the restaurant. Enjoy!

22 April, 2008

Twilight Set! Wahoo!

Get excited (well, at least I am)... I'm back in Portland after a week at home in Pennsylvania, and I'm heading to the Twilight set tomorrow! YAY! I think I might have come off a bit overzealous, but the film's publicist graciously agreed to allow me onto the set to observe.

Of course I'm looking forward to seeing the physical realization of the books I've been reading, but I'm quite excited from an analytical point of view to truly see some of the adaptation issues that I've been studying in action. I'm looking forward to seeing how they use the script, if the novel is ever referred to during the filming, if the actors refer to it, if the script is a fluid thing that may change slightly depending on the actor's delivery etc... it will just be very interesting. I certainly hope that I get to chat with a few of the crew members and/0r actors, but even if I'm just sitting quietly on the sidelines all day observing I think it will be very beneficial and a great foundational experience for my work. I mean, I keep reading about adaptations, and it will be nice to actually be able to refer to my own observations from the set of Twilight.

Very exciting. Look forward to another descriptive post soon. Plus, yay for being back in Portland! I love this city!

And here's the site for a great new Twilight video from MTV.com :) Enjoy http://youtube.com/watch?v=sD6DFloIXyE

10 April, 2008

Pilgrimage for Twilight

I’ve just finished the Twilight series for the second time in two weeks (there will be a fourth and final book coming out in August that I am very eagerly awaiting) and as I tend to not just read but instead obsess over things, I decided to create a Twilight playlist, listen to nothing else for two weeks, check out every message board, fan site and photo gallery associated with the novels and their forthcoming movie, and plan a pilgrimage to the sites mentioned in Twilight. Namely Forks, La Push and Port Angeles, all in Washington State. Twilight, in short, is about a girl, Bella Swan, who moves from her mother’s place in Phoenix, AZ to her father’s in Forks, WA. She ends up falling in love with a boy named Edward Cullen who just happens to be a vampire. He and his family (6 other vampires) consider themselves ‘vegetarians’ (meaning they only drink the blood of animals, not humans) and they, too, reside in Forks due to the plentiful overcast days. Nearby on the Quileute reservation in La Push, WA, Bella’s best friend, Jacob Black is dealing with his own mythical dilemma as he discovers that he is a werewolf, and is the eternal enemy and predator of the vampires. Much drama, heartache, love, adventure and joy ensues as outside vampires plot Bella’s death, Edward and his family accept her as one of their own, and she deals with questions of love, life and the impending eternity as a vampire.

I was supposed to spend this week on the set of Twilight which is being filmed around Portland, OR, but the person I was supposed to be shadowing quit her job last week (quit Twilight! I know! Craziness!) and kind of left me stranded. So I'm definitely disappointed about that, I'm still hoping to contact someone on the set to see if I can reschedule (let me know if anyone has any links!) but I'm trying to make the best of it. Before that disappointment surfaced though, I wanted to check out the real towns of the Twilight series so I could compare the book to the real locations, and compare those to the film representations. So I packed up for a couple of days and took off for the Olympic peninsula of Washington.

Heading off of the I-5, I meandered through seaside towns, withered logging villages and vast expanses of the Olympic National Forest until I arrived in the little town of Forks, Washington, population 3,175. It was later in the day than I had hoped it would be, so I decided to drive through the town of Forks and go to the beach at La Push first, then circle back and explore Forks more thoroughly.

La Push is the reservation where Jacob Black lives; friend of Bella Swan and werewolf of the Quileute tribe. I turned onto La Push road and encountered a whole lot of nothing for about 14 miles. It was a pretty, wooded road with pines arching over the pavement, but there were no signs of human life until the actual town of La Push. ‘Town’ may be stretching it. La Push is filled with one family homes, trailers, a tribal heritage center, a chapel or two, and a number of run-down buildings. You could walk from one side to the other in about ten minutes and pass mostly homes. You won’t find any Seven-Elevens or McDonalds here, although there were a number of signs for smoked salmon, and a new general store where you could purchase snacks, Quileute memorabilia, gas and firewood to use in the new adjacent campground and RV park. Also springing up next to the RV park is an Oceanside resort. La Push seems to be emphasizing their tourism possibilities and utilize their unique heritage and gorgeous beaches.

Although different than I imagined it- as actual places always are from your imagination, after a few minutes it was easy to visualize Jacob walking out of one of the small houses down to his garage, or to picture Bella on First Beach waiting for him to meet her. Bella’s cliffs are just down to the left, and while I didn’t find a trail to them, I have no doubt that one exists and perhaps the more adventurous of the area have thrown themselves off of them in a lark of recklessness. It is certainly more touristy than I thought it would be, although that may be a very recent development. I pictured La Push to be very private, off the beaten track, where heads raised when any car rolled into town, and almost an exclusive place where everyone knew everyone else and I would certainly stand out as the only white person within miles. Not so. They seem to be inviting the outside world with open arms and encouraging ‘infiltration.’ At least I felt like I was infiltrating. It didn’t feel like the quiet, secluded, and sacred place that I imagined for Jacob and his pack.

After taking a dozen or so pictures of various aspects of La Push, I returned to Forks, stopping first in the tourism office as I figured that they would know about the Twilight books and be able to give me some idea about how they have reacted to their town being the epicenter of a battle between mythical races and a new pilgrimage location for avid fans. I pulled into the parking lot and a huge sign covering the majority of the main window proclaimed, “We (heart) Bella and Edward.”

I took this as a good sign.

There was a couple already talking to the gentleman who was attending the center, so I wandered around the one room looking at fliers and the small collection of knick knacks that Forks had to offer. It was mostly information about logging, the National Forest and fish hatcheries, but there were two racks of handmade jewelry called ‘love bites’ that consisted of everything from necklaces to key chains that all contained hearts and two red rhinestones somewhere on the heart signifying a vampire bite. There was also a sign on the wall proclaiming “Forks is ready for Twilight!” and another one stating “Vampires thrive in Forks.” I couldn’t help but chuckle. The gentleman was free at this point and I told him about my interest in the novels and the effect that they have had on the town. His eyes glimmered at my first mention of the books and he raised his arms above his head as I finished my sentence, clearly impatient to tell me all about Forks and Twilight. He handed me a packet of Twilight Sites in Forks (which consisted of the outdoor store, the drug store, the high school, and the police department), and a binder called The Twilight Lexicon that one of his coworkers had put together. It was filled with all of the local articles published about Twilight since the books’ release and information on the upcoming film. There were pictures of the main actors, interviews with the author and the local librarian, and letters that had been sent to Bella Swan, Edward Cullen, or Bella Cullen care of the Tourist Center. The town was obviously enthused about its place in the Twilight world.

So much so, that on September 13, 2007 (Bella's birthday) the town celebrated Stephenie Meyer day, celebrating the author who brought attention to their two stop-light town. Fans of Edward and Bella flocked to Forks and received a ‘hunting permit’ describing the Twilight sites, and a list of local businesses that were participating. The town’s police chief acted as Charlie Swan for the day and handed out PB & J sandwiches, the pharmacy handed out cloves of garlic, the Thriftway handed out plastic vampire teeth and sold black hats with ‘Vampires thrive in Forks’ embossed on them, and the convenience store printed black shirts with the words “My last Twilight. I was bitten in Forks, WA” in silver ink. Of course I bought a t-shirt, and I even contemplated heading to Sully’s Burger House for a Bella Burger or to the Subway and getting a Bella Special. Some members of the community seemed a bit miffed about the extra attention and the influx of out-of-towners taking pictures of the high school or the beach in La Push, but most were enthusiastic and pleased that their town had a special place in the hearts of Twilight’s fans.

It was certainly not a town that I would have gone out of my way to see, and it didn’t have any attractions to lure people into it but that was more endearing than anything else to me. It was nice to see the town just as it was; just as Bella and Edward experienced it. I’ve seen some screen shots from the film and now know that they are going for a cleaner, brighter, almost New-England looking town, although it was filmed in Oregon; the school in the film is a big, classic brick building as opposed to the dated and very small high school in Forks, and the houses for the film are quaint, comforting homes and not missing a chimney, they don’t have a Big Wheel in the front yard and the majority of the buildings are probably permanent in the film and not mobile homes.

I’m glad to have seen the original Forks, however, because I think it gives a more complete feel of the alienation that Bella must have felt upon arriving. This whole town was just a smidge bigger than my high school was. I couldn’t imagine coming from a diverse and cultured city like Phoenix to this isolated, quiet, and somewhat run-down town where the biggest event is the ‘Rain Festival’ in mid April. After visiting Forks however, I could imagine it a little bit better. It was clear to me the kind of house in which Bella lived, the limitations she really encountered for dress shopping, and I found it difficult to grasp the idea that you’d have to drive at least an hour to get to the nearest movie theater let alone a major airport. The one, tiny airport in Forks is generally used as a drag speedway; they move the cars to the side when a plane needs to go through, “but that doesn’t happen very often,” as the gentleman at the tourism office informed me.

So after visiting the high school, the park, the police station, the medical center, the outfitters, grocery store and driving down all of the side streets (about three deep on either side of the main road), I figured I’d drive the 53 miles to Port Angeles and find a motel there for the night instead of Forks. Not that Forks didn’t have a plentiful supply to choose from- the Forks Inn, Dew Drop Motel and about a dozen others, but I wanted to attempt to have dinner in the Italian restaurant that Edward took Bella to in Port Angeles.

The drive from Forks to Port Angeles was probably the prettiest stretch of my trip. It was raining, and foggy, but that just further set the atmosphere of a secluded, mysterious and untapped location. The single-lane road wound around mountains, in and out of the protected woods of the Olympic Forest, and along the coasts of still lakes. It was easy to believe that there was no civilization within miles of my little rental car, and I half expected to catch a glimpse of a vampire on the hunt or a werewolf prowling. Small signs of life started popping up along the highway (the occasional tavern amongst the plentiful fish hatcheries), and then as I crested a hill, there before me was a Shell station to welcome me into Port Angeles.

The Port part of the name is definitely the prominent feature of the town. It was filled with motels, quick-bite restaurants and a developed Oceanside block of seafood restaurants and tourist shops. As it is the major place to catch a ferry to Victoria, BC, people tend to not spend a lot of time there.

There are two main streets: first and third (both one way, so you go up one and down the other). And the town is probably a mile or two in length with the actual downtown area being about three square blocks. This part of town was very pleasant. Classic architecture, unique shops, a wine store, nice cafes, and a few restaurants that were definitely a step up from Tom’s Roadhouse grill or the general McDonald’s. I snapped my pictures of the waterfront and meandered the downtown's few streets. There was a well stocked bookshop with both new and used books, artsy greeting cards and bacon vs. tofu action figures so I had a good time in there. I did find Bella Italia, the restaurant Bella and Edward went to after he saved her from the ruffian attackers of Port Angeles. Sadly, there was no mushroom ravioli on the menu though. And lastly, before I returned to my motel on the edge of town I was lucky enough to have the clouds break up a bit over the mountains and catch a few glimpses of snowy peaks and craggy cliffs.

The towns were fairly close to what I was picturing if not a little more run down than I had expected; and I’m sure the movie will ‘clean them up’ a little bit, but I rather enjoyed seeing the true places. I think their rough exterior made it easier to see the more pleasant aspects of the towns, like the close community, the attention to public spaces, the improved efforts to promote the towns (all three had extensive construction occurring and enthusiastic and well-stocked tourism offices), and the rough aspects only added to my understanding of Bella’s feelings in Forks. I was able to glimpse the starkness, the limitations and the isolation but also see how that could enable her to flourish as herself, and certainly why it made a safe haven for the Cullens.

It’ll be interesting to see how the film shows other aspects of the town, and I’m really curious as to how Stephenie Meyer chose Forks as she’s from Phoenix. I suppose its as good a place as any when you’re looking for a small town, overcast skies, and a location that is completely isolated from the majority of society! All in all, it was a great pilgrimage; it's given me a new depth to my research and has made it a more personal experience and not just an educational exercise!

Keep checking in... I hope I can complete some more pilgrimages and experiences in my other works too -New Zealand for the Hobbit? Why not!? Certainly Oxford for His Dark Materials and London and Scotland for Harry Potter... we'll see what happens with on-set exposure too... fingers crossed!

09 April, 2008

Oh what a doozy...

Okay, its been far too long.... quick recap:

I'm on the west coast. I went to San Francisco on March 7 for a family wedding, stayed out there for an extra week to play in wine country with my parents, then hung out in San Fran with my brother and sister in law for a week, then flew up to Portland! Portland has been in-frickin'-credible. I've been hanging out with old friends that I haven't seen in ages and it's been so, so nice. This city is so laid back, friendly, easy to get around, green, and there's a whole city block devoted to being the best book store I've ever been to! It's called Powell's and I'm pretty sure I've spent more time there than anywhere else in Portland and I've bought enough books to warrant the purchase of another bag in order to bring them home. I'm pretty sure it's my little heaven on earth.. or at least in Portland :) It's become a nice haven.

Portland has been so great. In so many ways. It's felt like a vacation, I've felt like a true independent traveler but I've been able to spend all this sweet quality time with friends. I've been able to take off to the coast and go solo camping and hiking with no company but a beautiful golden retriever (that a friend lent me for the week!) as well as have amazing nights out with old friends and by the end of the night be good friends with all of their friends. Wine and beer help in that, of course :) Workwise it's been a whirlwind... I've basically just been reading. Reading, reading, reading. And that's been bliss.

One of the series I was reading is called Twilight, by Stephenie Meyer. It's pretty darn great. There are three books out right now and the fourth and final book will be released in August. I'll give a full summary in my next post, but the short answer is a girl named Bella moves from Phoenix AZ to Forks Washington (population 3,100) and ends up falling in love with a very loveable vampire named Edward. It's told from her point of view, and is wonderfully descriptive... but the time you're 100 pages into it, you're pretty much in love with Edward too. So anyway, my first day out there I was at a bar with my friend Noodles and all of her friends; we're sitting around, shooting the shit, they're asking me about what I"m doing in Portland and I give a quick sum up of my studies and the books I'm looking at, ending with Twilight as that was the one I was reading at the time. Well one of Noodles's friends says, 'I'm an assistant director, and my girlfriend is working on that set; we can probably get you on the set.'

Holy. Poop.

So I try to stay cool and convey my enthusiasm and crazy desire to do that and it looks like it's all going forward! We planned for me to go onset for the whole week of April 7-11 and just observe the whole film process. So after camping and all of that, I'd read the Twilight books twice through and was thoroughly obsessed with the tales (if you know me, you'll understand the level of obsession we're talking about here). So much so, that I had a free weekend on the 5th and 6th and decided to take my little rental car up around the Olympic peninsula in Washington and explore the towns of Forks, La Push and Port Angeles where the books take place. Of course I loved it because it was just another crazy outlet for my obsessions, but I could justify it work wise because I really wanted to see the actual towns and compare them to the books' descriptions and then to the film's depiction. My next post will be a crazy long journal about that trip.

Well the end of this tale is that the girl I was going to go to work with on the set of Twilight ended up quitting her job last week. She was going to try and set me up with a coworker to still be able to observe, but as I haven't heard anything from her, I assume that's not gonna work out. I'm crazy disappointed, but as that is the only negative glitch in my entire time in Portland, I'll learn to get over it. Blarg is the word of the week, but I'm still managing to enjoy myself in the city of course, and still get other work done, but I had to force myself to stop reading Twilight and actually focus on something else; I think I need a mourning period!

Anywho... so that's the quick update for now. Thank god for the nomad life; this year in the States has been incredible. It's been better than the best therapy to spend all this time with friends and family, traveling and in new and exciting or old and comforting cities. In each place I've traveled to I've made great work connections, had wonderful life experiences, and have expanded every horizon I have in scholarship, selling myself, conversation and experiences. I'll be glad to go back to Bangor, but this year away has taught me how to self-discipline, how to network...well, not just how to, but it's forced me to. I think I would have been too complacent if I'd stayed in Wales this year. I would have just floated along and waiting for assignments to come my way and stuff; this way, I've really found where my interests are leaning, where my passions can take me, and how I want to spend the next few years.

It's not all solved yet, in fact I think more questions have come up instead, but it's all been such a beneficial experience in every sense of the word.

Ok... enough for now. More to come soon.