I often have to travel for work – whether it’s to shoot a film or a guest role on a TV show, a campaign for a brand, or a press opportunity. I love when I get to travel. Sometimes I get to go to really incredible places like Australia, London, The Bahamas, the coastal cities of Mexico…to name a few. Other times, I go to VERY small towns throughout the US and Canada…and while there is nothing wrong with these places…they just aren’t The Bahamas.
These small towns definitely leave me wondering what it’s going to be like – how is a city girl like myself going to survive in such a small town for a month or two?! Will I be able to have access to my favorite healthy foods? Where will I workout? Well, rest easy my friends- I have always survived….and have always been better for it!
I’ve discovered that working in small towns is a very special opportunity to get away from the hustle and bustle that is my everyday life. In small towns, there are actually silent moments, no noise at night, and you don’t have to fight through crowds of moody people when you get up and going in the morning and most of all: people are usually more polite! And when I’m working, I know I won’t be as distracted in a small town, which means I can focus my energy solely on my work.
This summer I shot a movie called “Monolith” in Southern Utah. For those who don’t know, southern Utah is where most of the canyon lands in North America are like: The Grand Canyon, Lake Powell, Bryce Canyon and Zion Canyon (all of which are spectacular national parks.) And to give you a little perspective, it’s also pretty far from any big city- the closest city is 3 and a half hours away- and it’s in Nevada! You literally have to drive through 3 states to get to the nearest major airport, which is in Las Vegas! I stayed in Kanab, Utah..which, depending on the time of year, has a total population somewhere between 3 and 4 thousand people. There are 4 thousand people living just within a few block radius in Greenwich Village in NYC!! When I told family and friends where I was going, no one had ever heard of Kanab- except one friend who was from Utah who gave me a “huh? that’s unusual, why are you going there??” which of course didn’t leave me feeling too confident about it!!
Once I arrived, I quickly realized that lots of people come through Kanab- they are mostly families and vacationers visiting the various canyons of Southern Utah- so it’s known as a “tourist town” and the home to “Old Hollywood” because dozens of western movies were shot there back in the day.
The reason the film shot in Kanab, Utah and its surrounding areas was because the natural beauty was breathtaking and so unique. The movie is essentially a survival movie set in the relentlessly hot desert. I play a young mother lost in the desert who has to save her dying son and get them both to safety, despite all the odds stacked against them. I was made up to look dirty, sweaty and sunburnt daily, so I had to embrace that and use that when shooting scenes. Almost all scenes we shot were outdoors in the most incredible locations- some resembled Mars with red rocks jutting out in odd formations, another called Big Water is all powdery silver/gray dust and white boulders which made it resemble the moon, and Paria which was a canyon with curvy striped rock faces from mineral deposits and impressive crevices. Everyone working on the film couldn’t help but be taken aback by the beauty of all the locations we shot in.
As for my healthy foods and workouts? I usually bring an electric skillet with me so I can cook fresh veggies, egg whites and salmon/chicken in my hotel room, so I did that a lot. I also bring a compact, transportable electric blender to make protein shakes. It’s not very glamorous, but it works in a pinch! I found some restaurants that were also able to prepare some great healthy foods. I went on a 5-6 mile run most mornings before I went to set which gave me energy for the day. I would also do ab workouts and push-ups in my trailer when I had short breaks. The film was very active and physically demanding (I did almost al of my own stunts) so keeping up with my fitness was especially important.
My husband, Ben, took the journey out to Kanab for a one long weekend of my 4 week shoot to visit Puffin and I (Puffin usually always comes on location with me!). When he was there, we took advantage of hiking through some canyons in the area. Our favorite was Zion Canyon. The narrows are beautiful and the vastness of it as a whole really made us appreciate the beautiful world we live in. Hiking through canyons was also a really great way to break a sweat while seeing the sights.
This month over the summer really affected me- the film taught me things about myself I didn’t know before, I was able to embrace nature in a way that a city girl rarely does, and I learned a lot from the great relationships I formed with people in such a short time frame.
I may actually have to go back to Kanab for a canyon vacation sometime in the near future….
*set photos taken by Stefania Rosini