Monday, March 27, 2006

Mexico - "Doctor without Borders"

Tijuana, Mexico 3/27/2006
Anyone who works in the television and film industry in San Diego long enough eventually finds themselves in a studio, soundstage, or location south of the border. It’s just cheaper for the low budget production companies and independent film makers. And San Diego locals don’t give it a second thought when the set location is in Tijuana - atleast it’s closer than Burbank.
As I wander through the turnstiles toward downtown Tijuana, I think nostalgically back to my first gig in Mexico, shooting a commercial at the Rancho La Puerta Spa. I was treated so well, spending a relaxing day getting pampered, sauna’d, massaged and fed and all the while getting paid for it. When the commercial aired, I was a blur in the background for all of 2 seconds, hardly worth the residuals, but jobs like that make the audition:casting ratio all worthwhile.
Today I am in Tijuana, for the shooting of a "theatre of the extreme" piece by Sarah Kane, called "Psychosis 4:48." It was her last script which she never finished - choosing instead to end her life. My role is that of her psychiatrist - cold, detached, intimidating, and clearly unable to reach the soul of this depressed, suicidal woman who cuts her skin. I prescribe too many medications. I say all the wrong things, ask the wrong questions, and, from my patient’s perspective, lie lie lie with falsehoods like "I’m glad to see you". But before you wonder if I am being typecast here.....
Just last week I worked a modeling job where I was also cast as a doctor, in a much different light. It was a photo shoot of marketing stills for a healthcare organization, and it was all about being personable, approachable, friendly, warm, professional and reassuring. All of which I conveyed effortlessly, in set ups with patients, nurses, children, and other medical staff. An entire floor of a local hospital was sectioned off for the shoot, and the model release indicated usage would include print, web and billboards.
Meanwhile, this non-sync-sound short filmed in super 8 and black/white will be used as part of a visual art piece to go on exhibit in a gallery this fall. A multi-media portrayal of depression.(Ah, there’s my call to the set)
6.5 hours later.....
And it’s a wrap. Another doctor role, another border crossing. But apparently the doctor theme is not over yet. A call from my agent confirms my current marketability...an audition for a pharmaceutical industrial; the role, a doctor. I’m going to have to add a lab coat and scrubs to my wardrobe if this keeps up.
So, back to the theme of this blog which is travel, not doctors, I should mention that this is my third trip to Mexico in the past 5 months, each time a different destination, and with a different purpose. Last fall I was in San Miguel de Allende, one of my favorite places on the planet. Anyone who has been there knows. Anyone who hasn’t, well, you’ll just have to trust me on this one. You won’t regret it. I stayed in the same villa where Antonio Banderas and Melanie Griffith stayed during the filming of “Zorro.” (Speaking of films again, sorry). A child-friendly casa in a child-friendly town in a child-friendly country that is Mexico. Guanajuato and Dolores Hidalgo were part of that itinerary in the colonial central highlands north of Mexico City. Don’t go there without children (Antonio and Melanie brought theirs), and if you don’t have any, borrow some. You’ll be treated like royalty.
2006 began with a week in “another Mexico” (as my daughter calls it), Loreto, a small laid back fishing town on the Sea of Cortez. Still very much a Baja feel to it, but a trip up to the magical Mission of San Javier puts you in a whole different place and a whole different pace. That’s another blog entry though, for another time.

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