We’re in England this time, shooting a 14 page fashion story at an old country estate about three hours from London. I am to meet the driver and photographer’s assistants at 5 a.m. the morning of the shoot to load the 12 trunks, racks, steamer and all the lighting equipment into the back of the trailer. I’m safely asleep in my hotel room the night before when my phone rings. It’s the driver. He’s only just looked at the call sheet I sent him three days previously, and he’s refusing to drive us such a long way. I open a bleary eye. It’s 2 a.m. and I’m being blackmailed. Unless I give him $350 more he’s not going to turn up for the job in three hours time. After what feels like years of arguing I give in, if only to get some much needed rest.
Wait nervously the next morning for my blackmailer to turn up. He opens the back of the van to reveal 200 folding chairs in the space where our equipment is supposed to go. He refuses to take them out, saying I never told him we would need his van to be empty. Big screaming fight ensues as I try to point out the rational sense of hiring a van generally means that you have something to transport. I give in and call Fashion Director after he has dramatically declared that I have ruined his life. My sarcastic observation that this is quite a feat since we’ve known each other less than a day does not go over well. After more than a few choice words from FD he unpacks all the chairs one by one, we load the equipment, and, more than an hour late we set off on one of the more tense journeys of my life.
Arrive on set to find the Home Owner (appropriately, HO) has banned us from entering the house in shoes. We have to set up all the clothes, accessories and props under a tent in the driveway. It’s raining sideways. We’re also not allowed heels on the driveway, heels in the house, or heels on the grass. FD comes over to peruse the clothes and asks me to show her the favorite hats. We open box after box and I am filled with a sinking dread as I realize they’re back in the office. Oh, and apparently there was a bike in the stairwell that I was supposed to bring, but the prop stylist forgot to tell me. Local intern sets off back to London on a six hour round trip to retrieve bike and hats.
A loud scream echoes around the garden…