|ON THE SET WITH A SOBER COMPANION
These days, the phrase "Sober Companion" might conjure up images of a babysitter for a bad-boy actor or musician gone haywire.
The media has depicted us in this way because it makes for screaming headlines and because, for better or worse, celebrity sells.
Sometimes, we are called upon to fulfill this role - especially in Los Angeles, Hollywood, Burbank, and the surrounding areas. In Southern California, there is enough money, pressure, booze, dope and pills to create an environment where any creative person can lose his or her grip. Production companies, insurance carriers, and bonding companies often call upon the services of a Sober Coach or a Sober Companion to ensure that their filming schedule will not be derailed due to an actor's substance abuse. In such cases, we are on-set before the makeup goes on - and we stay until after the last notes are read.
But the reality is not always that a Sober Companion has an actor on a leash. There are two types of clients on-set: compliant and non-compliant. In the rooms of recovery, these terms are usually "willing" and "defiant".
Far more often than not, our on-set clients are willing to maintain abstinence and are totally compliant with just about any request we make, as long as it is designed to help them stay away from alcohol and drugs while filming.
Any actor, regardless of his or her age, is under enough pressure in a normal filming environment. With the added stressors of a substance abuse problem, and with producers, executive producers, & directors all worried about having to shut down production, the buzz inside an actor's head can create an impossible work environment.
In these situations, a Sober Companion certainly will help the client stay drug-free - but that's the short story. We facilitate our client's needs in every area imaginable: yoga, breathing, nourishment, meditation, short rests, hydration, short bursts of physical exercise, stretching, laughing, crying, yelling. An On-Set Sober Companion will do whatever it takes to help the creative person remove the cobwebs and get back in front of the camera.
A non-compliant client presents a different set of problems for us to solve. In a recent case, the non-compliant actor had a PA (production assistant) visit his trailer. The comely, young PA "mistakenly" left her satchel under the actor's couch. Our personnel noticed the actor's eyes kept darting over to the bag. We went to open the bag and the actor went ballistic. Guess what was inside? A fine collection of tiny, airplane vodka bottles - along with enough oxycontin to really get the job done. Just enough to derail filming for the entire day.
This type of behavior is to be expected from some clients. No one should be surprised when a person who doesn't want to be clean tries to get loaded - even when it clearly is not in his/her best interest.
In the case above, the Sober Companion took clear, immediate action: disposed of the bottles, prevented the client from getting loaded, and cleared the set of the influence of the errant PA.
Keep checking this space for some more bizarre tales from on-set.