Y'know it's kinda funny how fate sometimes intervenes on behalf of your unconscious mind. I was pondering the other day that I hadn't pursued any background movie work recently. I'd actually gotten several calls to appear in the Syfy television series Haven but since it's filmed all the way out in Chester and my car is spoken for during the day, I just couldn't commit. And let me tell ya, folks, it positively killed me to turn down any work on a film set...
But on 7:30 am on Thursday, September 1'st I got a frantic call from a representative from Ballyhoo Casting. The female voice on the other line sounded decidedly harried, but genuinely relieved to have reached someone on the first ring.
"Hi, David. It's _________ calling from Ballyhoo Casting Company, how are you?"
"I'm well, thank you."
"Listen, I'm so sorry for the early call..."
"Oh no, that's okay. I was already up." (No lie!)
"Okay, well, that's good. Listen, I was wondering if you might be available to do some background work today."
My heart skipped a beat but I tried to maintain an even keel. After all, if I had to commute to some far-flung location, I might be forced to bow out.
"Sure, yeah!" I responded. "Where is it?"
"Halifax. To be specific it's at the old church at the corner of South Street and South Park downtown."
I did a silent fist pump. I could get there easily via a Metro Transit carriage ride.
"Perfect!" I declared. "I can do that."
Sensing that my enthusiasm was burgeoning on the unchecked, my caller quickly revealed the rest of her unpalatable hand.
"We also need you in a suit," she blurted in a rush.
A suit? Arrrgghhh!!! Curse my personal contempt for formal clothing!
"I...uh, I don't have a suit per se...but I do have a sports jacket!"
"What color is it?" came the instant response.
"Um, dark navy," I replied.
Sadly, it would be the exact same jacket I wore on the set of November Christmas.
"Perfect!" she enthused. "Now, what do you have for pants?"
"Well, I've got a couple of beige-ish pairs."
This elicited a murmur of disapproval.
"Hmmmm," came the verbal frown. "Do you have any other colors?"
"Oh, wait!" I remembered. "I've got a gray pair!"
"Okay, great! Wear those," she said. "As for a shirt, wear something understated, something a bit somber. It's supposed to be a funereal scene."
"Okay, cool," I said.
There was one last critical piece of information missing.
"When's my call time?"
The connotation was obvious: 'You're calling me back to cancel, aren't you?'
"I just had two quick questions," I said.
- Even if I was a bit late, they'd find a place for me later on in the shoot. Besides, I was replacing someone who'd cancelled at the last minute! I was doing them a favor!
- If I wasn't dressed properly, they'd have an entire wardrobe truck close by to outfit me better
Here's the view inside the cemetery as I walked past the wrought-iron gates:
Pretty cool, huh?
I stopped a few head-set equipped crew-members to ask them where the holding area was for extras. I was soon directed to where one of the A.D's was waving at me, airplane run-way style at the crest of a small hillock. He was standing next to a small, weather-beaten church with peeling white paint.
My fears were soon completely allayed when the makeup and wardrobe gals came by. After my "dewy" complexion had to be powdered down, I showed the wardrobe assistant my options for ties. Her initial choice was soon vetoed by the costume supervisor who provided me with a flat grey tie, since my other ones were deemed "too reflective". Now having received official clearance to proceed, I waited patiently for my call.
Further back behind a phalanx of headstones were two perpendicular dolly tacks which were positively a-swarm with cameramen and technicians.
"Holy crap!" I muttered under my breath, then turned to a small clutch of female extras standing next to me. "Do you guys recognize the director?"
All I got in response were shrugs, downturned faces and blank stares. I stopped the A.D. as he passed by to confirm my suspicions.
"Um, the director," I ventured. "Is that Mick Garris?"
"Yup," he replied, suddenly fingering the dials on his walkie-talkie. He looked as if he might be preparing to call for re-enforcements, perhaps anticipating an Amber-threat-level horror film fan spazz-out.
Mick's been making films since 1986 and is a long-time Stephen King collaborator. He directed the theatrical release of Sleepwalkers (1992) and televised adaptations of The Stand (1994), The Shining (1997) and Desperation (2006). He's the engineer behind the horror anthology program Masters of Horror, plus he wrote an episode of Amazing Stories for Steven friggin' Spielberg.
Goes to show you how much of a horror film geek I am when I'm more star truck by the director then the actors.
NEXT TIME IN MY "EMBLOGIFICATION CAPTURE DEVICE":
- The mystery priest's cameo doubles as a headliner's slot at "Yuk Yuks".
- Mick Garris: human dynamo.
- I try and solve the mystery: who the f#@$ are all these people?
- My encounter with Bond. James Bond.
FAIL As much as I love Mick's overall body of work, his casting of chipmunk-cheeked urchin Courtland Mead as Danny in the television version of The Shining effectively ruined the experience for me.