"Memoirs of a Geisha" Set Report
We were there on Wednesday, January 12th. Among the scenes they were doing was the ext. geisha school scenes. The kids would run through an alley and up the stairs at the Japanese Tea Garden, as if they were late for school.
I was standing right next to Michelle for a while while they were setting up the kids' shot and didn't know it was her (sorry!!) until someone told her she had to be in costume in 15 minutes. Then I looked at her and she turned and looked at me but I had no expression because I didn't know who she was. Then they called her Michelle. I thought it was kind of interesting because she had her hair in a bun and had very obvious streaks in her hair. They were adamant that my daughter cover her streaks for authenticity. But maybe it was an age thing.
Anyhow, later Michelle was in a car being taken to her dressing room and I was walking down the road with my iPod and I was in the middle of the road. So they had to stop the car. She gave me a big smile. I thought that was nice - it really seemed like a genuine, spontaneous smile. How many actors do that? My daughter, who was an extra, told me she was really friendly and nice to the five girls (who were playing geisha students). Also her English sounded very good.
Also saw Ziyi in a yellow kimono and she was gorgeous. My daughter was getting her hair done alongside her and said she was nice.
I really think the costume designer will get an academy award nomination - the costumes are breathtaking. Someone told me many of the kimonos were vintage or one of a kind and were shipped from Japan, and we had huge storms the week before while filming at the beach and I guess it wreaked havoc on the kimonos. Supposedly they canned many breathtaking shots they were planning at the beach due to horrendous weather, which is too bad.
Lastly, one thing I thought of: before every scene they start blowing all this intense incense around. Really intense. That's how you know they are going to start filming. I thought it was for mood, but someone told me they wanted a misty look to the air.
Very friendly easy-going set, everyone very very nice. My daughter had a great time.