I got picked up for another background extra role, a Fashion Buyer on the new TNT television series Leverage.  We were in Eastern Oregon over the weekend and didn’t get a lot of sleep.  This continued today with my 4am wake-up alarm calling me to be on set by 5:30am.  I made it to the lot and began the regular rigamarole of signing paperwork, going to wardrobe, eating from CRAFT Services, and waiting to be called to the set.  Be on time and be ready to wait.  That is what it is like to be an extra.

We were working out of a warehouse near our photography studio so the location wasn’t far from home.  I whizzed through wardrobe wearing hip and trendy threads from our personal collection and they dug my signature glasses.  I was set, to sit.

We waited for a while as they dialed in the set, then we were called and placed into the scene.  I pay attention and work hard, which isn’t easy when you are running on 3 hours sleep and the day goes for 14 hours.  I usually get paid off by being “used well.”  For Leverage, I was placed in front of a fashion show banner, behind a red velvet rope.  The scene opens on me getting mobbed by photographers before tracking to the stars, who enter the scene for their dialogue. I get to come up from behind them and continue on into the scene.  This scene was shot many times from different angles.  It is important to do the exact same thing each time to maintain continuity for the editors and I am pretty good at continuity.  The other scene has me inside the fashion show, a few feet from the primary actors.  We again do many takes from different angles in order to give the editors plenty of footage to work with.

The day ends around 7pm and I am worked.  It was a tough one but a lot of fun as well.

Look for me on episode 9, Leverage, Wednesdays on TNT.

May 172009

The Untitled Crowley Project: Take II

This morning rolled up with a sunrise call to the Nike World Headquarters in Beverton, OR.  The campus is an amazing thing to behold… and it was taken over by Hollywood.  Signs changed, windows stenciled, the entire place transformed into Zymagen Pharmaceutical.

Large catering tents filled an outlying parking lot surrounded by RV’s.  Propane fueled air conditioning was pumped into each tent to try and keep us cool.  We filled out paperwork and lined up for wardrobe.  On Friday they didn’t like my tie so I had picked up a “new” one at Goodwill yesterday.  Today they love my tie but hate my shirt.  I am handed one off the racks and told to change.  I change shirts and am approved before heading back to the holding tent.

We wait..

And we wait..

Finally we are called to load onto shuttle buses to be whisked away to the set where we are told to head to the cafeteria to wait.  And we wait..

Eventually we are called downstairs and set up for a moving scene where Brendan and Keri speak to the pharmaceutical company about finding a cure for Pompe Disease.  There are multiple cameras on tracks rolling through the scene and we do many takes before being sent back up to the cafeteria.

Later in the day we are called to be background actors while a scene is being filmed.  We are set on marks and go through a set routine that doesn’t change to maintain continuity.  We do many takes where I am in the background courtyard, talking with others, then walking off or into a building.

Many extras are let go for the day but I am told to stay with a handful of others.  We are blocked through some more background scenes inside the building and finally let go as the sun is setting.  I head back to wardrobe where they want my tie instead of my shirt but that gets cleared up pretty quickly.  Soon I am changed into street clothes and heading back to Portland where a BBQ is underway at my house.

Another great day on set.  I am really grateful for the opportunity and hope to see myself on the big screen when the movie is released next year.

May 152009

The Untitled Crowley Project: Take I

I took a job as an extra on The Untitled Crowley Project, a big budget Hollywood picture being filmed here in Oregon.  The internet ad drew me in, offering a chance to extra on a Harrison Ford, Brendan Frasier and Keri Russell project.  How could I resist?  I had a couple of weeks of availability being checked for specific roles before I landed a job.  Zymagen Suit.  Hysterical.  I haven’t worn a suit in years.  So I dusted off my old threads and ran off to the set as ordered.

My 11:45am call meant 11:30 on set and ready to work.  I know full well that the movie business is hurry up and wait so I was prepared for however this day went.  And so we waited.

Over the course of the next couple of hours, I filled out paperwork and was given a better tie by wardrobe, was offered breakfast, then staged with 10-20 other extras for 6 different cut scenes, I shared breathing space with Harrison, Brendan and Keri, then was changed into a lab coat and given props, I waited, was then changed into a cop suit to be a security guard and immediately filmed for one entire scene by myself, then fed an amazing lunch, waited, was told to stay when most were told to leave, was offered use of the main catering truck, waited, and finally released around 11pm.  Almost a 12 hour day with 3 minutes of me on raw film.  One take.  Bam.  My on camera time was better than a lot of the extras and I was pretty psyched at the end of the day.  I was called back for Sunday.

Being swapped into Zymagen Security was another great cosmic joke on me, since the cop role was one that Laura and I had talked about while I was still in consideration.  Laura use to be a Sheriff’s Deputy and I have had my share of run-ins with the law.  I have to admit, once I was suited up by wardrobe I walked and talked a little differently.  I felt strangely comfortable in the role which was the weirdest thing.  Who knew?

And so I must admit that I was a bit star struck too.  Walking onto the set of a major motion picture was much like walking onto the playa at Burning Man.  The incredible amount of people, material and machines, all choreographed into a crazy dance that just somehow works.  Shear will makes it happen, there is no other way.  I couldn’t help saying hi to the stars when they passed and generally wanted to be as professional as this little boy could.  But it really was exciting, my first day on set.

I do look forward to Sunday.

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