Monday, September 19, 2005

Diva Extras

I have returned to the world of doing extra work. If you're familiar with my adventures, then you know that I was able to get some background work on movies when I was in Chicago. I am glad to say that today I continued my legacy as an extra in New York City.

I found a post on Craig's List about a small-budget film looking for extras. They couldn't pay a whole lot but hey, it's something for my resume, and I love being on the set and watching how things run. The main requirement for doing extra work is having patience because you spend 99% of the day waiting and 1% actually doing something with the cameras rolling. So, if you don't mind waiting around talking to people and getting paid for it, then you may want to look into it.

The film I was working on today is called Devil You Know and we were shooting in this really cool club in New York called Fizz. The only info we got was we were supposed to dress formal/semi-formal as they were going to be shooting a scene that takes place in a posh restaurant. We were also asked to steer away from bright colors. So, I wore black pants, a black shirt, a black tie, and my black blazer. I was stylin.

Shortly after arriving, the director pulled me aside and asked if I would like to play the maitre d'. Hey sure! So there you go. All of a sudden I'm the freakin' maitre d'. Step right up! They brought me into make-up and touched me up a bit and then they sent me to the hair department so they could tweak me. That was cool. My first time on a film getting the whole hair & make-up treatment so that was cool. All of the crew members were really nice and friendly.

They had me stand in the entryway of the club, behind the desk. No lines, I just had to stare at the lady who walked in and kind of exchange looks with her. And they brought the lady onto the set and it was Lena Olin! I know, I know, you may be asking yourself, "Who's Lena Olin?" She's one of those actresses you see all the time but can't name anything she's been in. She's a very beautiful actress from Sweden and you'd never guess she was 50 years old. If you've seen Hollywood Homicide (Harrison Ford), Alias, Chocolat, Mystery Men or Romeo is Bleeding then you've seen Lena Olin. Anyhow, I was told I was supposed to be a snotty maitre d' and when she enters, just look at her and then look back away like I don't care about her. I was told she was going to look at me in similar distaste and when the cameras rolled and she came in -- Man -- she gave me a look like I just ran over her dog. We did it again and this time I looked at her like she just ran over my dog and then threw up on him. The director was really happy with it, so we moved on to the next shot and Lena just looked at me and laughed and it was cool. She was really nice. And that was our only exchange.

After shooting my scenes with her, I returned downstairs to a room where they had the extras holding. Everyone else there had all done extra work before, most of them more than me, but they had started to complain that things were taking so long for them to get on camera. The ringleader, some guy I worked with on the Court TV shoot, is one of those guys always name-dropping and talking about his connections and generally annoying everyone else. And he started having a fit when, after they finally used him on camera, he wasn't getting more time. He wanted more food, refused to be quiet when they called "Action," and in general was just being a big whiny baby because it was taking so long (despite the fact that we were told the shoot would last all day). He gave the girl from the crew who was our contact a really hard time and finally she told him that he was done and he could go home.

I didn't get it. He got screen time, he got free food, and he's done extra work before so he knows that when he goes to an extra call he'll spend most of the time waiting around to be called to the set. He would have brought me down if I wasn't having fun snickering at him behind his back.

All in all, though, a good day. We got done late and I spent some time on a fun set working with some really cool people. Who can complain about that?

You know....besides that one guy.

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