For the past couple of days my acting career has been on the upswing. This time I am a cowboy in another movie you will likely never see. In fact, I will probably never see it.
The movie is supposed to be a comedy, and part of the humor (if I may be so bold) comes from the fact that most of the cowboys and cowgirls speak little or no English and learned their lines phonetically. Comprehensible is all they’re trying for, and usually they achieve that. Every once in a while they even get enough behind the lines to be convincing. It seems that only one of the czech actors bothered to study the script ahead of time, so in between scenes the writer/assistant director has to drill them on their lines, explain the meanings, and try to help them get a little emotion behind the words. I imagine he is getting frustrated, especially when one actor said, “I know not to study, because they will just change everything anyway.”
The story might even be funny if the lines were delivered well, but pretty girls is what the movie is really about, and the quality of the dialog will only be a footnote. My performance will be even less than that.
That’s not to say the movie won’t be successful. The budget is practically zero, and the ranch where we’re filming is very pretty, nestled up in the hills in a rural part of the Czech republic. Horses frolic in the pastures, and as far as I can tell the sun is always shining here. The real reason the film will succeed, however, is that is has lots of very pretty women in it, and they spend a lot of the time not wearing very much (always somehow when I’m not in the scene — when I’m around it’s all about riding horses and poorly-delivered dialog).
Friday, my first day on the set, was all about hurry up and wait. It didn’t start well; I spent an hour and a half at the train station waiting to be picked up, thinking about the casting for a commercial I was missing. Things got better when I reached the set, as I was able to set up the computer and work on my own stuff while waiting. I spent the entire day here, and “worked” for about fifteen minutes. Work involved standing and waving; then I was asked to ad lib something as the riders passed. Woo hoo! I put on a bit of Texan, spoke my piece, then headed back to the ranch house. A few hours later I was told I wasn’t needed any more that day.
Yesterday, Monday, was a different story. This was the day they shot most of the scenes that were called the “comedy” scenes, and I was in many of them. I had a few more lines, and once more I was asked to ad-lib to stretch out my part. “We need more blah-blah-blah,” was how the director put it. I blah-blah-blah’d to the satisfaction of those present and earned my pay. Little John (who had hooked me up for this job) was here also, and as always it was fun to hang out with him when we had breaks. It was a fun day.
Today is more like the first day. Once more I am needed to open a gate and make a comment to riders as they pass through. then I’m done. Transit time from Prague to the set and back is likely to be longer than the time I spend here (although they are running behind today). One other important event today is that I get paid.
Then I return home, cowboy no longer, and wait for the next little character role to happen my way.
…except even the best-laid plans sometimes don’t pan out. One of the other scenes went long, and I happened to be on hand while the director and writer tried to juggle things. Thus it came to pass that I told them I could come back tomorrow if it would help. It would, so I will. So, a pleasant-but-slow train ride to Beroun, lunch, and pay for a half-day, and in return I did… nothing. It’s a fair exchange, I think.