Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Murderboarding In Portland: A Report

So. That happened.

If you're on Twitter and you've been paying attention at all to our feeds, or perhaps even if you've just been reading our informational posts, we just took a working vacation. For a certain value of 'just.' We've been back a bit, we've had time to recover. I jotted down the notes for this entry while we were on the plane back and I was half-stoned from cold meds and sleep deprivation, plus altitude weirdness and the general mental miasma of being on a day-long plane adventure. I've had time since to think about these notes and bash them into something resembling coherent form. It took some bashing.

A working vacation. For Murderboarding, in this particular instance, it was a vacation relating to our work on Grimm, up to Portland where they film. It started off, actually, as a complete lark. Oh, hey, wouldn't it be funny and kind of amazing if we were able to go to Portland someday? Oh, yeah, that'd be cool. Then the idea gets shelved, and we think no more on it.

The problem with thinking no more on it is that then it sits there and seethes. And bubbles. And seizes on the next opportunity, oh, hey, we're getting a decent sized tax refund. Hey, plane fares are down. Oh, hey, this hotel looks affordable. Before we knew it we were allocating funds and booking tickets to Portland, making hotel reservations, making plans. But so far, it was still just a vacation. I mean, we had every intention of going around to locations, we looked up where they were, but we weren't going to do anything beyond that. Right? Of course right.

Let me tell you what we did.

We took a bunch of photos of outdoor and exterior locations, mostly for our edification. We walked the Pearl, and saw a bunch of the places where events mentioned in the show would have taken place. We had dinner at Raven and Rose, which turned out to be an executive dinner meeting at Raven and Rose where we worked out some expansion plans for Murderboarding, the problem of essays since our previous post went entirely unanswered, we did some networking, met some fans of the blog who live in Portland, asked for and received permission to visit the set and learned a great deal while we were there, did some info gathering, scheduled and attempted to schedule some meetings and interviews (filming interfered with some, others we managed to catch), and overall managed to make a lot of progress on the scheduling and direction of Murderboarding, not just in Grimm, but in the blog in general.

We also scheduled the vacation portion of the working vacation, because goddammit, there are two words in 'working vacation.' Only one of them involves labor, even if it is a labor of love. We had concert tickets and Cirque du Soleil tickets and set aside a day for wandering around parks, and another for wandering around Powell's. We didn't schedule me getting sick for a day and a half with the head cold from hell, but it happens. We scheduled a studio visit with a lovely couple of artists, and we did quite a bit of just wandering around, eating in restaurants, and visiting gardens.

We had our fun very much scheduled because we did have a solid idea of how long it would take to get to the concerts, what we would do when there, and how long it would take. We had our working parts very much not, because we didn't know how long a set visit would take (estimated: 1 hour. actual duration: 4 hours, cut off there only because of extenuating circumstances), how long it would take us to hike around an area of town (not that long, as it turns out, but only in so much as we had a list of places and a native guide to point them out), whether or not we would get any of the interviews we were trying for, etc. We had never done this before. We didn't know, beyond what common sense told us, what would and would not be permitted. Common sense dictated that we take no pictures of the set, that we stand out of the way while filming and keep quiet, that we stand out of the way when not filming and talk quietly amongst ourselves unless spoken to, and there was a surprising amount of that. We remain incredibly grateful to Norberto Barba for his gracious welcome and willingness to answer questions. Common sense also dictated that we not go up to the cast while they're working and bug them. That we not go into private buildings and poke around and take pictures. You know, normal person stuff. But when we asked for interviews, or for the set visit, we really didn't have any idea if this was a thing that there was protocol for, or that people would be willing to do, or if we'd be consistently turned down for any of half a dozen reasons. As it turned out, even the people who had scheduling conflicts were happy to talk to us! Not for the interview, but they weren't upset that we had asked.

In a lot of ways, Portland and Grimm was an ideal choice for our first Murderboarding working vacation, if we were going to do this at all. A lovely city with plenty to do even without the blog-related agenda, and we found ourselves missing it as we left. Now that we've done this, hopefully some of the scary has rubbed off the prospect of asking people to talk to us about what they do for a living, what they like about it and what they find challenging. And we have a better idea of what we can and can't do.

Let me be clear on the can and can't do part, too. The cast of Grimm knows who we are. They know about the blog, some of the writers know about the blog, and we introduced ourselves to Berto as bloggers, with our business cards and a link to the blog so he could see that we were serious and professional about our work. (Yes, despite the fact that we say 'fuck' a lot.) That gave them the reassurance and expectation that we would behave as professionals, not be disruptive, obey the schedule we were set in accordance with their filming and production needs, and leave quietly when asked. Which, of course, we did. We do what we do because we're huge fans of the show, but we also do it in the manner that we do because we believe sincerity and dignity are the hallmarks of professional fans, for lack of a better term. Sincerity in our fandom, our fan-style appreciation, dignity of a professional.

Other things that helped: basically, scheduling ourselves for six hour "working" days. A lot of our travel time included a lot of planning, sitting on streetcars and buses going "okay, if we can do this, then this and this get easier," and so on and so forth. We made a budget and, by and large, we stuck to it, helped out a lot by a lot of the things we wanted to do amounting to going to a place and walking around till our feet told us to stop. We kept our evenings free for relaxing, decompressing, eating well, and going "OH MY GOD CAN YOU BELIEVE THAT HAPPENED," because let's face it, we do do this because we are fans, and it really helps maintain a professional demeanor if you know you can go back to your hotel room and, in private where it won't freak anyone out, screech about what happened to your co-blogger. No matter how professional you are, in whatever profession you're in, you will have those moments of "OH MY GOD I SHOOK HIS HAND SHE TALKED TO ME OH MY GOD." I read an article recently where an actor described himself as being so star-struck by Robert Redford that he walked into a refrigerator. We managed not to walk into anything, I'm pretty sure we managed not to be incoherent, and it was largely because we could decompress later. This is also the reason for six hour days, because being "on" like that is exhausting. Fun! But exhausting.

Keep your expectations low and broad. Our mantra for this trip was "nothing is going to happen," and indeed for a lot of it, nothing did happen. We did not have ice cream parties with the cast, we did not run into anyone on the street, and nothing happened. Except a lot of things happened. Some of them we can't yet talk about. Some of them we've touched on but won't speak of in any more detail than we have here. Some of them even we don't yet know the entire scope of. We're rolling with the punches. We're pushing forward, with encouragement, and we're trying to keep our enthusiasm fired up by Portland from outpacing our ability to follow through. Another good reason to keep your expectations low; if you don't expect much, you won't necessarily attempt to do much, and find yourself running ragged by your own actions. We're trying to escape that fate, with moderate success. We still have three shows to blog, two of which have considerable backlogs, and we're tossing around ideas for touring the areas where those are filmed as well. Haven might be a stretch by now, but Sleepy Hollow is in not quite my own backyard but a couple backyards over. It's possible. A lot of things are possible, now. Maybe that's the best thing to come out of this trip to Portland, reminding ourselves why we do what we do, and how much joy we take in doing it.

And now, the fun part! We took maybe not as many pictures as people were expecting us to, but still a fair few! Now with snarky commentary. Some of them - most of them - you've probably seen on Twitter, but Twitter is notoriously ephemeral and now they're all in one place. As an extra bonus provided by one of our Portland friends, a time-lapse video of photographs of Portland, because we were so busy having fun we didn't take half as many general landscape and terrain photos as we should have.

One of our new friends gave us this water bottle. Murderboarding has added to the vocabulary sheet: "You are in violation of the bottle."

Breakfasts at St. Honore was one of our best ideas, really.

Portland, A would like to discuss portion sizes with you.

Dinner (aka Murderboarding exec meeting) at Raven and Rose was ALSO one of our best ideas.

She had the steak, I had the rabbit. Neither of us had gut-busting anti-Blutbad truffles.

We're pretty sure this is the CVS mentioned in the Aswang episode.

It may break some law of the universe for Murderboarding to meet in person without sushi happening.

The Pearl district, with one of the many buildings we suspected Renard of living in.

Dessert at Raven and Rose. Still without gut-busting truffles.

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