My boyfriend Taylor has been training me to be a boom operator. The boom operator assists the sound mixer during filming by holding a long pole with a microphone at the end as close to the actors or action as possible without allowing the microphone or boom to enter the camera’s frame. Taylor pointed out that I would be great at this because I have a six foot wingspan and am very good at standing still. “But what if all the blood rushes out of your arms?” I asked. I was imagining myself standing on the set of a Fresh Step kitty litter commercial with my hands over my head, holding the boom over a tiny cat scratching through a box of kitty litter and then slowly falling over, the boom crushing and seriously injuring the cat, while I get a face full of kitty litter. “Well, that’s why it’s hard,” Taylor replied. “And why they pay you the big bucks,” I whispered, chills going down my spine. It’s always so exciting to discover a hidden talent you never knew you had.
To train to be a boom operator I have been holding my arms over my head for extended periods of time. It’s tiring, and although my arms are very long, they are kind of weak, and the blood seems to drain out of them quickly. I’ve been asking other people how long they can hold their arms over their head to get some comparisons, but people seem to think that’s a strange fact to know about themselves. In my mind, “I can hold my arms over my head for twenty minutes,” follows “I pee ten times a day,” and, “It takes six shots of Jameson and half of a Coors Light to make me black out,” but I guess people don’t keep track of these things like I do.
Another job I think I may have a natural talent for is styling, but for food. When you watch an Applebees commercial with a beautiful chicken sandwich posing on a plate it never crosses people’s minds that someone with the title “Food Stylist” was listed on the call sheet and got paid to style a sandwich. Food stylists understand a particular dish and the process of creating it, and add an artist’s eye to the dish’s presentation by arranging the elements in a certain way, or suggesting garnishes and special serving platters. I’m not one to ever get starstruck over celebrity sightings, but if I ever met whoever styles the food for the Martha Stewart Living cookbook series I would definitely fan and freak. I’d introduce myself and shake their hand and gush, “I’m a huge fan of your work, the way you styled that artichoke, how did you do it?”
I’ve been thinking of ways to possibly combine the two jobs, but I’m uncertain if you need a boom girl on a food shoot. I’d like to hold a microphone over a roast turkey to see if any sound gets picked up, but mainly out of curiosity, because you never know if the mic might pick up something incredible. Like a tiny wail.
© Copyright 2016 Jennifer Donahue . All rights reserved.
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