Thursday, August 19, 2010

Christmas Came Early This Year! - Part I

Hello, Returning Readers!

Well, after my adventures on the "Hobo With A Shotgun" set (documented right here - your Ever Lovin' Host) I was pretty keen to keep this train a-rollin'.  Thanks to the "Hobo" experience I discovered the "Faces for Film" website and set up a profile for myself not long after.

Well, I'd assumed that with the profile set up they would just email or call me if they thought me suitable for any specific assignment.  But when I got busy and time began to ream by I came to the realization a few weeks ago that I hadn't heard from anyone.  This in spite of the high frequency of cryptic-looking yellow signs posted around the city: sure evidence that active movie sets were somewhere close by.

So, I popped into my profile, added a photo, some extra specs and then looked through the current bulletins.  It was there that I spied the following request:

"I am currently casting for a Hospital scene that will be filmed in Halifax on Thursday, August 5th.

-the shoot day is Thursday, August 5th
-the people I book must also be available for Friday, July 30 in case of bad weather
-if you are booked, I will contact you with weather cover details if necessary on Thursday, July 29th

Here is what I am looking for:

- clean cut visitors, aged 25-60, any ethnicity
- thin/sickly looking kids, aged 5-12, any ethnicity

If you are interested and available for both days please comment below.  I will call you if I can book you!"

I threw my hat into the ring and a few hours later found myself in the following phone call:

Me: "Hello?"
Awesome Filmworks Rep: "Hi, David?"
Me: "Yes, speaking."
Awesome Filmworks Rep: "David , its _____ ________ from 'Filmworks Casting'.  How are you?"
Me: "Fantastic!  Yourself?"
Awesome Filmworks Rep: "Good. (not sounding entirely convinced) So, I'd like to book you in for this Hospital shoot as a background performer.  Are you still interested?"
Me: "Yes, yes I am!"
Awesome Filmworks Rep: "Okay, great.  Right now I'm trying to get confirmation as to whether or not it'll be August the 5'th for sure.  We're trying to figure out what the weather is going to be like tomorrow."

I suddenly found myself in a "Matrix"-like bubble of time suspension as I tried to puzzle out out how the hell they could possibly know what the weather was going to be like a week from now.  Slowly my bullet time moment of stupidity lifted and I realized that they were likely looking for bad weather to justify altering the shooting schedule.  The spinning cogs and pinwheels in my brain almost distracted me from her next question.

Awesome Filmworks Rep: "So, would you still be available if we have to move the shooting date to tomorrow?"

(I rummage around in a few random pieces of paper sitting by the phone), Me: "Uh, let me see here.  Yep, I'm free!"
Awesome Filmworks Rep: "Fantastic!  I'm almost 99.9% sure it'll be the 5'th but in the event it gets bumped up to tomorrow you'll be getting a frantic phone call from me around 9 or 10 o'clock tonight.  Let's just pray it doesn't come to that."     
Me: "Well, regardless of when it is I'll be there!"
Awesome Filmworks Rep: "Thanks so much, David.  I'll be in touch.  Have a great day!"

Well, to quote the Mike Myers-spawned German television host Dieter I was "as happy as a little girl."
(best spoken while pinching the fabric of your shirt at the nipples and pulling it away from your body)

I was getting back on another major film set and this time I was going to get paid.  Or at least, I thought I was. 

Not that it mattered at all.  I would have paid them just for the privilege of being able to stand there and watch the process. 

Well, I didn't get a desperate phone call that night so I assumed that the original date would hold true.  Sure enough I received the following email on the 4'th:

"I have you booked to do background work tomorrow (Thursday, August 5th) on 'November Christmas'.  All of the information below is very important.  Please read it carefully- I know it's ridiculously long, but it is important.

I am also attaching a list of Basic on set information, rules, and etiquette. If this is your first time on set, please read it over. (ACTRA members: please ignore)

Your Calltime for Tomorrow is: To Be Determined.
I am anticipating a morning calltime (they began filming at 8 AM today).  I will email you your calltime tonight around 9PM. 

Please be sure to check all messages and respond promptly to confirm.

Please Report to: *EDITED*
I will let you know the exact room number when I email you tonight.

Your Character Is: Visitor at a Children's Hospital

The Scene: These scenes are interior and take place during several days and three different times of year.   These scenes take place in: August 1995, September 1995, October 1995 and November 1995.

Wardrobe:  Please come prepared with 3 complete (head to toe) wardrobe changes:
August Look:  Please bring an upscale casual option for late Summer.  Think about what you would wear if you were actually going to visit somebody in the Hospital and wear that (you would be a little bit more cleaned up than usual, but not "fancy").  Late summer option should include:
Women: skirt & blouse, dress, or lightweight business pants and blouse; summer footwear; light cardigan or jacket
Men: dress shirt; lightweight business pants, light jacket; ties; summer footwear

Late Fall Look: Please bring TWO complete upscale casual options for late fall/early winter.  Keep the idea of trying to look nice for visiting the Hospital, but keep in mind that it is supposed to be cool outside. Late fall options should include:
Women: long sleeves: skirts and blouses, dresses, or warmer business pants and blouse;  late fall footwear; sweaters;  fall jackets
Men: long sleeves: dress shirts, pants, sweaters, fall jackets, fall footwear

COLORS/THINGS TO AVOID: white, blue, red, bright colors, busy patterns, plaid, logos, sparkles
COLORS WE LIKE:  Neutral/earth tones: grey, beige, charcoal, browns, dark green, navy

Please make sure that all clothing is clean, no ripped or stained clothing please.
   ** Labeling all clothing is a good idea- there will be many extras on set tomorrow**

Hair/Make-Up: Everybody please arrive with clean, dry hair.
Men: Please arrive clean shaven or with groomed facial hair
Women: Please arrive hair and make-up ready, if possible.  Please arrive with a base coat of make-up on: whatever you would wear on an everyday basis.  Please do not wear any sparkles or glittery make-up.
Please be sure to bring a hair brush or comb, and hair elastics, clips, etc for the day changes.

Things to Bring: water, snack and drinks (Lunch will be provided if you are there at lunch time, but in case you are hungry before that);  your Social Insurance Number- you MUST have this for prompt payment;  cards, games, anything that will keep you entertained and happy without being disruptive. 
(ACTRA members will be fed as per the IPA)
PLEASE NOTE: Cameras are not acceptable to bring to set.  Please do not bother the cast and crew with requests for photos or autographs- they are there to do a job and you are too.

If you MUST cancel, please call me at ***-****. ( That number is for emergencies and cancellations ONLY.  I would be happy to answer any questions or concerns over email or on the office line: ***-****.)

Thank you, I will be in touch tonight!

Now with my role confirmed I began my own descent into panic.  Did I have the appropriate clothes to accommodate this?  For "Hobo" I was just asked to dress as crappy as possible (which I'm more than capable of doing at any time).  But I needed three distinctly different semi-formal outfits here!

I pulled everything vaguely business casual out of the closet, washed it all in an attack of acute paranoia and ironed it all.  I can safely say that I did more ironing on that one day than I've ever done collectively in my entire natural life.

I cobbled together three passable outfits and prayed to the costuming Gods that I'd hit the mark.  I was hoping to get my call time quickly so I could make arrangements to drop my persistently patient wife off at work early while I schlepped two massive garment bags across town in time in the car.  But the email didn't come in until around 11 pm!

I nervously opened it up and read the following:


Your calltime for tomorrow is: 09:15 AM

You should report to:  *EDITED*
(there will be yellow signs to follow that say BaseCamp)

Please refer to my earlier email for all other details.

(If you MUST cancel, please call ***-**** immediately. That number is for emergencies and cancellations only. I would be happy to answer any questions over email.)

Thank you, Have a great day tomorrow!" 

This was a sweet relief.  If it had been 8 am like the previous day of shooting I certainly wouldn't have been able to take the car with me.  Part of me wonders how long I'll be able to pursue these opportunities with a single vehicle, especially if the shoots are outside of Halifax.

I got up at 6:30 with the best intentions of getting all my ducks in a row.  Paralyzed by indecision I was completely unable to pare down any of the clothes I'd set aside for the day.  I hedged my bet and  threw all of it into two separate garment bags (one for pants, one for shirts).

After dropping my uber-tolerant better half off at work a full hour early (Love ya, Pookie!) I blasted over to Dartmouth to locate the set.  I did so in record time, located the closest Tim Whorenuts and ordered a bagel with thirty minutes to spare.

Despite the fact that my bagel was pilfered by some chickenhead, I still managed to hork it down and get over to the set fifteen minutes before my call time.  I eked out a parking space, slung about seventy pounds worth of fabric over my back and staggered into the main entrance, flirting with the very real possibility of the first ever medically documented garment bag induced hernia.

After entering the main building my gut was instantly in a knot.  There was absolutely no orientation signage at all.   Crap!  Was I in the right place? Was I going to be late?

I backtracked out to the trailer lot and bushwhacked a member of the crew who did indeed confirm that I was in the right place.  There were still no signs upon my return but I did spy a few intriguing characters milling around the food court area.  I hovered around there for a bit, buzzing around the cryptic-looking piles of paperwork like a fly, no...more like, like a bee around honey.  Yeah, that's the ticket!

No one was manning the table and I didn't want to fill out the wrong forms so I wandered back to the entrance where someone was finally posting up a "HOLDING AREA" sign pointing downstairs.  Down below I spied a slew of extras loitering about, dressed as commanded.

I made my way downstairs, heaved the two bags off my back like nylon hit victims and settled in for a long wait.  Just as I got comfortable I overheard someone asking an acquaintance if they'd registered upstairs yet.  Tipped off, I traipsed back up to the form-laden table in the cafeteria.

Finally someone was assisting the extras with their paperwork.  I filled out two documents, one for a pay claim ("WOO!  HOO!") and one was a declaration of residence.  Once I'd filled out name, rank, serial number, birth date, blood type and my estimate as to the air speed velocity of an egg-laden swallow (I asked the qualifying African or European rebuttal just to be conservative) I sauntered back down to the holding area just in time for wardrobe's inspection.

A nice wardrobe girl helped me pick out three outfits starting with the winter attire.  This consisted of a pair of dark green khakis, my "Merrill" sneakies, and a dark gray sweater.

This was initially fine by me but I'd purchased the sweater in my usually size "large" at "Old Navy" without trying it on first.  To make matters worse I'd washed it the day before and attempted to dry it in an over loaded dryer.

It came out sopping wet.  Instead of doing the intelligent thing and drying it again with the hopes of shrinking it a bit I'd left it to air dry overnight.  Too bad I decided on this course of action on the most humid night of the summer.

Well, I'd gotten up the next day and the friggin' horse blanket was still wet.  I didn't have time to dry it anymore so I'd just chucked it in the garment bag and ran out the door.  When I pulled it out later on set it looked slacker than Martin Landau's testicles.  It looked even worse when I put it on, like something I'd  borrowed from my boyfriend Moose's closet.

Undaunted I changed and waited nervously for the main wardrobe lady to come by and give me final approval.  While I waited I was directed over to the nearby makeup chair where I was pawed over by a dotty hairstylist.

After she told me a story about trying to plug a hairdryer into a glass reflection from the other room (?) I should have considered that my cue to just out of the chair, run away from her and hide.  I'd washed my hair when I first got up that morning and it was admittedly kinda poofy but her solution to this was spritzing me down with a water bottle and coming my hair forward for an awesome "crows wing" sort of effect.  Feeling abused, I stumbled away from the chair and vowed to effect repairs as soon as I could.

No such luck.  I was tackled by the costume overseer and she quickly appraised me with a practiced eye.  She nixed the white t-shirt I was wearing under the sweater and asked me to put on a brown collared shirt underneath instead.

After she walked away I though: "Really?  A dark brown collared shirt under this cable-knit gray sweater?  Really?!?"

But sure enough after I'd changed in the bathroom and looked at myself I thought: "Damn.  She was right.  It does look better!"

What I know about fashion and co-ordination you could fit in a Cadbury Easter Creme Egg.

Back in the holding area I killed time talking to a couple of cool dudes who were also just getting started doing extra work.  One guy I recognized as a cop from the "Hobo" set and apparently he'd snagged a recurring police role in a new local television show that was being shot in the area.  They also gave me some interesting insights into getting an agent, ACTRA and tips to secure future gigs.

Not long after the AD (the self-same dude who'd done such a tremendous job on the "Hobo" shoot) came by and swept up about ten to twelve of us to bring on set.  After a brief elevator ride we were positioned at the end of a long hallway and asked to wait while we got our assignments.  I took a seat on a cushy chair and a pale, thin ten year old girl dressed in a pink robe, slippers and a chemotherapy cap plunked down next to me.  We smiled knowingly at one another, reading each others minds as we collectively thought: "This is soooooo cool!  What's gonna happen next?"

During this time we were asked to keep quiet since some of the actors were nearby running lines.  A giddy thrill went through me as the directors chair bearing the name "Sam Elliot" was empty one moment and occupied the next.

Wow.  That's friggin' Sam Elliott right there, sitting not six or seven paces away from us.  

He was General Ross in Ang Lee's Hulk:

"The Stranger" in The Big Lebowski:

Wade Garrett in Roadhouse:

Not to mention Virgil Friggin' Earp in Tombstone.

I was geeking out hardcore but managed to retain my composure.  Just  in time the A.D. came by and started giving out assignments.  He directed one dude to sit alone at a table and wistfully stare outside.  Her asked another couple to walk casually down the hall.  He put a kid in a wheelchair and instructed an extra dressed as a nurse to push him down the hall.

Then he looked at me and said:

"You.  You're her Dad."

He pointed at the winsome, precocious little girl sitting next to me.  Just like that, in a matter of a few seconds, my life was forever changed.

I was finally a Daddy!

Check back next week when I reveal the meaning behind the following cryptic observations:
  • Does the old adage "don't act with kids and animals" really hold true?
  • The importance of being ninja.
  • Sarah Paulson: Method Actress?
  • John Corbett's Arch Nemesis: Background Noise.
  • Sam Elliott is mother-f#@$%^& pimp, yo.
  • Balloons and horses and wheelchairs: Oh My!  
  • I get schooled by a ten year old professional actress. 
Take care, Peoples!




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