When they say that filmmaking is not as glamorous as one might think, the ambiguous “they” are not joking, especially if “they” are referring to *documentary* filmmaking. We left our hotel at 9 this morning, knocked off a couple shots, drove around in circles for two hours, then spent another 90 minutes standing cameraside waiting for a train to come through downtown Fargo. Luckily, the temperature held steady at a balmy 25 degrees (that’s ABOVE zero – an important distinction in these parts), but still. It got pretty cold, after awhile.
There was a bar close to where we’d set up, so we took turns sidling in to use the bathroom. It was pretty divey – the graffiti in the ladies’ room read: “Roban is an asshole, HE WILL GIVE YOU AIDS”, and there was a blackjack table and pulltab gambling next to the front door. During our interminable wait for the freight train, our subject, Robin (not to be confused with Roban the AIDS dealer), won $500 on a ten-dollar bet and returned to our rented van jubilant, fanning two fistfuls of twenties. She and I celebrated with shots before lunch. Because we are awesome.
Her windfall aside, it was a pretty slow day. But we did finally get a shot of the train downtown, and at dusk, with only minutes to go before sunset, we caught TWO TRAINS AT ONCE, with an unexpected close-up of Robin across the tracks. It was well below freezing by that point, but as I smoked my Camel Light and watched those two trains cross in a moment of perfect coincidence, I’m pretty sure my heart exploded with joy – my boss and our DP literally leapt up and down once the camera shut off. My face was numb, my fingertips were throbbing, and I couldn’t feel my toes, but it was like I’d just won the lottery, discovered fission, or witnessed a total eclipse of the sun. This probably won’t make sense to anyone, and it doesn’t really make sense to me either, but I am seriously having the best time out here. I think, somehow, I’ll actually be sad to go home.