NOTE: You should read day one, below, first.
Soup Boy and I arrived at the location (Florida) on a morning slightly warmer than the previous had been (freezing rain rather than snow) and breezed through wardrobe and makeup to arrive on set at 6:45 am. Almost immediately we were hauled down the stairs to where the shooting was to take place. We were waiting in the wings while most of the other extras took up the positions they had held at the end of the previous day. Since we hadn’t been in the shot the day before we just stayed out of the way and watched the proceedings.
All at once, while Soup Boy was using his camera to take an (illegal) picture, one of the AD’s pointed at him and gestured. The Boy was hauled into the scene to stand reading a plaque.
And stand. And stand. It seemed that every shot had that plaque in the background, so it was not until after noon that he was liberated from that spot.
I, however, had different fortunes. I wasn’t in that shot at all, but the next shot required several people to pass between the camera and the main action. (Extras who are behind the action are called background, while those in front are foreground.) A pretty czech assistant named Marta (but not really) tapped me and a few other people to be her elite foreground team for the morning, so that shots of the same action would have (at least vaguely) some continuity as far as who is in front of it. The final edit will be composed of slices so small that evan though I’m walking right past a fight to the death between good and evil, I might not show up on the screen.
“If anyone tries to use you, tell them you’re with me,” Marta said. She was pretty cool, and even when other nerves were getting frayed with the complexity of the foreground action she kept on smiling. She liked the fact I’d do what I was told, when told, and that I didn’t talk. That got me into positions where I was close to the actors and directors, because it was easy for them to pretend I wasn’t there.
So the star of this here show, James of James and the Giant Explosive Device, for all the controversy that surrounded his selection, is a pretty good guy. Easygoing, friendly, and competent. He hit his marks and apologized when he made a mistake. The guy who played the Bad Guy was also a character. Overall, despite some frustration (at one point the entire shot had to be reconfigured because the track for the camera didn’t leave room for the foreground extras, and at other times extras would simply not shut up when asked), the vibe on set was positive and professional.
Once they moved to a different angle, I was released from Marta’s Elite Foreground Team, and she tapped Soup Boy to become part of her new Elite Background Team, and he was finally able to at least walk while the action was taking place. Finally I was finished in the background, walking back to the same object I had first been shot near the day before, this time escorting a pretty girl who had also mastered the art of shutting up on set. We hardly spoke a word, but she kept going too slow and messing up the crossing patterns of all the carefully orchestrated extras, which got me chided.
Soup Boy’s feet were recruited for another shot, and we were done for the day. We sat about until released (overtime, baby!), but the extras wranglers passed us over, looking for less used-up faces. Our agent came out to the location and paid us cash money on the spot.
The day was long, and tiring, and cold, but in the end I had fun. I took the computer in on day two, and the day ended with Soup Boy and I sitting next to each other in the big extra staging hall, Apple logos glowing, The Boy editing video while I wrote. Zoltan the Bald Serbian (I actually called him ‘Zoltan’ to his face once – oops!) thought it was great. We definitely stood out, I’ll tell you that.
After all that, I sent Belladonna a message (I mentioned her, right? She missed the second day because she had an exam—in neurosurgery) saying that I would be too tired to go out, so how about tomorrow night? The answer: Yes.