When a networking friend called to ask if I’d be interested in starring as the prenatal yoga instructor for a new i-phone app, I jumped. Since leaving New York, I hadn’t been teaching pregnant women and missed the young expectants and their wide open smiles.
“I’m trying to line up a nutritionist and get us all together to shoot on the same day. Is next Wednesday good?” I checked and it was—a side benefit of not having a full-enough schedule. Amidst a flurry of texts and emails with the producer, I received a demo of the product.
I clicked on the link and an impressive, multi-color layout of an app appeared with key words like Fetal Development and Ask the Experts. The look and feel reminded me of the website babycenter.com, where I’d freelanced from when it first opened its doors in 1997 in San Francisco until we relocated to New York in 2001; there, I copy edited Mary’s journal of her first pregnancy, wrote newsletters for each week of pregnancy, created a contraception tool and loved every minute. To participate as a prenatal yoga instructor for a pregnancy app seemed to close the circle. We set the film shoot for the following Wednesday at 8:30am.
A few days later, the crew arrived on schedule. I met their truck on the street and out poured one driver, one producer, one cameraman, one light man, one make-up artist and three British actors, two female and one male. They unloaded their equipment and lugged it up the steps into the front hallway.
“Where can we put everything down?” I scanned their suitcases bulging with I didn’t know what, big and small duffels with and without wheels, the oversized plaid-print shuk bags and shrugged my shoulders. It was as if we were being invaded by 100 house guests, but I knew it was only for a few hours.
“Just put it wherever you can. It’s fine.” I had no idea there would be so many people and so much stuff and tried to sound casual and cool. Quickly, I covered part of my sofa if they decided to dump anything on it just as the make-up artist asked where she could set up shop. I spread a white plastic Bed Bath & Beyond mat over my dining room table for her to unpack her endless array of brushes and cover-ups and creams.
The producer cornered me to explain who they were and what they were doing. Raayon Gadol, which literally translated means Big Idea, is the name of their start-up which offers pregnancy-related content and is a play on words with heraayon, which means pregnant. This particular project is funded by a VC in Texas but will first launch in Canada and the UK. She removed her i-phone to show me the demo: a 40-video chapter series with 3D animation, an online medical service with Q&A and personal assistance, hundreds of weekly updates and tips, expert advice and a store, the first ever on an app.
The house was a bustle of activity as the producer, camera and light men searched for the most ideal space to set up a pseudo-office for the nutritionist to have a pseudo-session with a pseudo-pregnant client during the first trimester and then again the second. They moved our office chairs around, hung a painting of Daniella’s on the wall, disconnected and moved the printer—all in the name of creating the perfect setting.
The actress was a young Brit, a photographer by profession, who was outfitted with a second-trimester pillow around her midsection. The make-up artist chose their clothing all the way down to the earrings, and the filming took close to two hours with multiple takes.
After they finished and I was in the hot seat getting my make-up done, the nutritionist laughed as she pointed to her cellphone screen. “What does it matter what earrings we’re wearing anyway or how our make-up looks? We’re all going to be reduced to an app!” In a flash, I pictured all of us in the far off future, infinitesimal and insignificant, rolling around in each other’s one-inch screens, reduced to almost nothing.
Once satisfied with the footage, the crew prepped my basement studio, propping up a few of my mats, bolster, blankets and blocks, usually all neatly folded and out of sight in my closet, around the room to create the feel of a homey space. He made sure to cover up any electrical outlets in the wall so that users couldn’t identify where the filming was taking place.
The first few minutes they filmed just me, sitting on my mat and looking directly at the camera to introduce myself and explain what prenatal yoga means to me and how it benefits women during pregnancy. Then they filmed me teaching three poses to the two actresses: one supposedly in week 12 and the other in week 26. We started seated and did side bends, then moved onto all fours for cat and cow, to downward facing dog and ended seated in cobbler’s pose. They shot from behind me to see the actresses’ faces and then in front of me to see mine. All in all, it took about 90 minutes if not more.
The packing up and putting the house back together was relatively quick. My one-minute of fame will be available on a one-inch screen by summer’s end. Stay tuned! Who knows? Maybe I’ll take up acting next.