I was in the middle of a shoot when I received the call. ‘I can’t feel my feet!’
Slightly agitated at being disturbed at work and needing my sister to not be so dramatic, I asked ‘What do you mean?
‘I can’t feel my feet’ she said. ‘They are numb’.
Luckily the cameraman was lighting at this present time, so I was just ‘standing by’ as they call it, which often looks to the layperson as though the crew are doing nothing when they are really on high alert, prepping for the shot and ready to function at a moments notice with all hands on deck. This brief lapse allowed me to remove myself mentally from the film set and absorb what had just been said, directing my thoughts accordingly.
‘You need to get to the GP immediately’ I declared. ‘It sounds neurological’.
Now let me explain. I was now only working on films during the summer months as I had just qualified as a Medical Herbalist. Hence why I had an inkling that a lack of sensation in the feet might be a neurological problem. As a female on camera I was not too keen on the future in that department anymore, physically and mentally. I no longer had the endurance to cope with any negativity I might encounter, as I honed my craft on various productions operating and lighting, en route to working as a female camerawoman. I had come into this field hoping to become a camera operator, but my sympathetic nervous system had endured too much getting to where I was now. The competition, the emotional and financial insecurities, dressing appropriately in order to retain my femininity while not trying to be one of the boys and attempting to be taken seriously, had hardened me. In the early days I would sometimes be brought to tears by the occasional nasty comment as though it was some sort of test to see if I would stay the course, but that had long died off. I couldn’t cry now if I wanted to. My body had forgotten how. I probably could have done a better job acting it out than turning on the taps for real. A number of my male counterparts had eventually moved sideways from film & tv drama into documentaries, corporates & idents, in order to secure employment as cameramen. The ‘monied work’ – the Bond films, commercials, was a closed shop. The males I knew had long acknowledged that the good looking males got that work ℅ the female production assistants/producers who worked for the production companies that made them, booking the guys they fancied; so there were few opportunities for a female to break through.
My sister called back. She had secured a GP appointment for the next day. I would have to find a replacement so that I could take the day off and accompany her.