Sunday, April 10, 2005

So You Wanna Be In The Movies -- Part 5

Sorry for the delay in posting. I've been having a complicated week. Nothing bad, really, but complicated and its kept me doing other things.


One thing people who've done the extra thing a few times like to do is talk about the stars they've seen. In short, gossip. Many, many stars came in for criticism of their high-handed ways. They drank a lot, threw tantrums, insisted on certain fussy details, and treated underlings badly. It was a veritable cornucopia of poor behavior. I'm not going to name any names of the folks caught behaving badly. I wasn't there, and even though (in some cases) multiple witnesses vouched for the story, its just doesn't seem right for me to be telling tales.

There were a few who got good reviews, and I don't feel like I have to avoid mentioning their names. Billy Bob Thornton would hang around on the set and mingle. Al Pacino once got up to get a drink and asked if anyone else wanted some. One brave extra said he would. Pacino got him the coke. Brian Van Holt, despite being covered in some gruesome makeup that had to be uncomfortable, joked with extras and happily posed for pictures.

The stories about the folks who were not so nice varied from the ridiculous to the disgusting. While I can understand wanting some privacy and not desiring to be mobbed while trying to work, I really wonder how some of these folks develop these odd tics. Too much…what? I dunno.


Tuesday (with one slight exception) proved to be my most frustrating day on the set. Fortunately, I was prepared with a paperback copy of Harry Harrison's "The Stainless Steel Rat For President".

Things started well enough. We were on the set by 7:30AM, inside part of the power plant. The inside was much like the outside, pipes and heavy equipment everywhere, metal gratings as walkways in some areas. But with no access to the sky whatsoever, it managed to be considerably more claustrophobic.

The PA's scattered us about, and in some cases gave us instructions on how to move. I and another woman are stuck 30 yards away from the main action, but we do get to walk towards it. In fact we are supposed to walk and walk until we turn off to the side just before Gellar and several people dressed in suits pass by. Word is she is trying to sell this plant to the guys in the suits. She's dressed the same as the day before (apparently, all the events in our three days of shooting occur on the same movie day) with the addition of a hardhat.

We tried the scene a few times and frankly, it was a pain. My partner and I had to start our movies based on the motion of the camera, which was hard to see from where we were. So we didn't always make our move at the same time, which is a problem. Apparently, the director agreed with me on this one, because we were eventually just moved off to the side where we could only watch. At this point, the head PA told us to go over to the canteen truck and grab a snack.

I'd never been to the canteen truck, and had no idea what it was. I admit that when I saw it, I was impressed in spite of myself. It was a large van, something like a UPS truck, only a bit smaller. The inside was full of shelves, and the shelves were full of goodies.

Bags of chips, Ruffles, Lays, Fritos. Cheese crackers, Oreos, bagels, doughnuts, sandwich fixings, chocolate bars, Snickers, multiple kinds of gum…a snack food smorgasbord. Outside were ice chests full of soft drinks, bottled water, and PowerAde. "Wow," said my partern, and I could only nod in mute agreement.

I grabbed several items, some for immediate consumption, but others for later, since there was no way of knowing when we'd get another shot at food.

We returned to our spot of waiting. Then we were moved again, and again, for no reason I can readily discern, other than we to place us farther and farther away from things. We finally end up in an out-of the-way corner, a bit damp and a bit chilly. I was glad I had brought along my windbreaker. I made it into a pillow, lay down and proceeded to read.

As the morning wore on, more and more extras began to collect in our dank little corner, and I continued to read my book. I think a transcription of my notes for the remainder of the day will tell the tale:

9:45AM apply band-aid blister protection to right heel.
12:00PM finish book, still waiting
12:45PM lunch. Excellent chicken-fried steak, mashed potato, corn, roasted acorn squash.
Ice cream for dessert.
4:00PM one guy is called to the set
5:50PM we are released

And that was it. We had one more day of shooting, and it would prove to be the best and worst day of all.

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