They said she changed that Saturday morning

Just in it for two days and we seem to be very, very tired. I left for home, but they had to shoot for something else - and, most definitely, party afterwards. From left: apparent Embassy stunner Misha Balangue, script stutterer Iza de Leon, distractingly detailed Jason Lopez, last-minute waker Jonathan Cuyegkeng, dreamily advantageous Neil Medina, all-around cooperator Yasmin Najib, and silently frustrated Cams Sioco. Krizia Paras has gone missing again - oh, and why am I using full names?

If you're convincing yourself that something is over until you finally believe that it is over, then it obviously isn't over.

I wasn't immediately all smiles last Wednesday when Miss Averion pointed out that we wouldn't have gender studies class this Monday, which automatically gives me a four-day weekend like some of my friends. It's effectively negated anyway - I'd still have to go to school on Friday and Saturday to screen potential actors for our thesis film. Thus, for the past two days, I have memorized Linda's lines and made an emotional attachment towards the photo studio, where we've been for most of our school lives during those days.

The casting call was fairly easy, personally - I was literally fed with prospects, streaming in every night through my email, and I only had to read their resumes, check out their photos, and maybe their Multiply sites. Once all the paperwork is done - the script, the reservations and the visitor passes - things grind to a halt, and stay that way.

In itself, casting was a bitch, more because of the idiosyncrasies that surround the important task. Yesterday two thesis groups - the boys (Jason, Cuyeg and me) and the girls (Iza, Cams and Krizia) - waited for almost eight hours and got around four actors out of the nine who confirmed. Thankfully it was sufficient enough to get things moving, and set the stage for more hard-earned productivity today, where we screened six people in four hours - and two more afterwards, outside the photo studio. In between script revisions, funny dry runs and some freaked out stand-ins (me included, because I had to read the mistress' lines), we have made a couple of decisions, all of which remain tentative.

Sometimes, even, I find myself merely staring at space, if I haven't been taking photos. At the end of each day, all I wanted to do was slump in bed and sleep. Of course, stubborn me slept at midnight, told the rest I'd arrive late, and got in the studio first anyway.

It's a weird feeling, finally associating abilities with faces. We had actors coming in - now that's insensitive to gender! - and finally reading our scripts, giving all their best, and wishing they got the role. In some cases, we've already seen or heard about their acting, which probably makes things harder for everyone. Sometimes, the photos don't even match the faces we're seeing, a testament to the abilities of digital photography and sleepy brains.

Even weirder, I had to pay attention - and when sleepiness gets in the way, I give myself no choice but to walk around the second floor, waking myself up, and pinching myself when I dream.

I think that most probably explains why I felt frustrated at myself for most of the screening process. When obligations, preferred realities and fatigue sets in, you find yourself writing an entirely different screenplay out of deliriousness. I did find myself dazed for so many times the past few days - distracted is more like it - I sometimes wonder whether my views on the actors are still coherent. Thanks to the bubble that is the photo studio, I never descended into paranoia; yet I found the need to walk around.

At the end of it all is some sort of celebration, maybe? We all ended up having lunch at the Sinangag Express outlet nearby - almost all, actually, since Krizia faded quickly - doing some sort of celebration over assorted drinks and plates of tapsilog. Yas somehow decided to shoulder everything - it's an inexpensive bunch anyway, aside from Neil's two plates, an expected sight after playing suggestively during the screenings - and the conversations started to flutter. It wasn't all over, actually, since Cams, Yas and Misha were preparing for a shoot for post-production class, and red-tense negotiations led to the restaurant being a location. Nevertheless we were involved on what probably is the longest conversation - or, to be more precise, I was eavesdropping on it - going into everything, from casting stories to torn-up newspapers to abandoned hot chocolate to Misha's Friday night outfit.

And then I was the second to leave, because I never really had any business in their next project - aside from, maybe, bringing the VX camera and not taking any of the sugar-free cookies that showed up all of a sudden - and because they're leaving to get happy for Saturday night afterwards. So it's over, right?

For one, thesis never really ends with the screening. I may not have classes on Monday - a two-day weekend, at least - but I might have to go to school anyway, if only for more screenings. Then there are the other weekends that would be dedicated to the cause, especially next month, when the production finally swings. If you count my paranoia, there's also the other things that could happen, more so that the bubble has technically burst at the end of the day - or it's just me trying to make a stupid metaphor out of a improbable story. I did it anyway, and it feels weird.

Besides, I might as well get used to this new set of tangles I've gotten myself into. It's all for the better, most might say, and I wouldn't argue that. It only feels weird, especially if you think they would never go into play once you realize you don't need to convince yourself anything - when it just is over.

And yes, I'm still trying to figure out how things got to this. As the rest of the world goes partying, I ponder this: it takes sugar-free cookies and a smattering of English for me to like someone. And yes, only my other "circle" of friends would get that.

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