Until this past Friday, I had not worked an extra gig in over 5 months. This is largely because I got a temporary part-time day job that was paying better for shorter shifts than most extra gigs (hourly, my rate was significantly higher & in keeping with what I'd expect to earn in the marketplace). Next week will come the entry on that experience.
Personal circumstances limited the timing of this one. Let's just say there is a drastic, serious need for bankruptcy reform in this country & the student loan lobby along with top executives at every single student loan outfit (especially concerning private loans) should die in a horrible, tragic manner. But that's for another day & when the story officially concludes. Stay tuned.
So I happened to get a call from Central Casting asking if I was available for a Friday overnight shoot where I would get to wear casual clothing. Being as A) I'd never been on a set overnight, B) I'd get to wear casual clothing instead of having to bring dressy stuff as I tend to do (I generally selected work that required evening gowns & dress clothes since I have a lot of it I never get to wear) & C) I select these gigs now for any new, enhanced experience I can get I said "Okay." Not to mention it feels more special to me if I'm invited to participate vs. putting myself out there for something. I just happened to be free at the time & how ironic I got this less than a week before my Entertainment Committee meeting (strengthening my argument that I can get paying extra work so there's no reason I should do it for free).
I also discovered it was for a feature film and while I've been on a film set before, I'd not done so as a Central Casting extra. Even more new experience to scratch off. Plus, this was with a company I'd not heard of with principals I hadn't heard of (thought that's not saying much sometimes) & in a part of Brooklyn I hadn't been to. That reminds me, I've got a Yelp review I need to write.
I get to the set and we're in a gym. Reminds me of going to high school in the late '90s; apparently the film was taking place in the early '90s so kind of helped the mood for me, I suppose. I also decided to watch "Clueless" on my DVD player while I was there (the only major electronic I brought with me since it was light & could be transported easily; nothing like lugging a laptop at 3 a.m., right?). This led to conversation with the person in charge of corralling the extras, Jason. Jason was also the Assistant Director.
I have to admire this guy because he took charge & command by sounding an awful lot like me. Seems you need someone who can be an enforcer & not give a damn about hurting anyone's feelings if you want a good AD since I saw similar on my first extra gig. It made me wonder if he'd considered pursuing a legal career, another job where not being worried about what anyone thinks of you helps tremendously. Honestly, though I don't think you'd make all that much as a lawyer today unless you knew someone who had their own multimillion dollar law firm & would hire you no matter what school you went to or how bad your grades were. This man was so professional, I had to pass along my business card. He also passed on some industry knowledge I'll be sharing with my partners if it ever comes up (personal experience with someone in the business: give me insight on that & you'll get praise from me in an instant). Jason had a lot on his plate with over 200 extras to organize.
I was portraying a concert goer & later in the night, I was glad the wardrobe people told me to wear the short sleeved shirt I'd brought under the man's shirt I was wearing (hubby gave me that one recently since he'd outgrown it & I wanted to keep it) instead of the tank top I arrived in since it got COLD when we had to go to the set. I also had my long sleeved drape shirt that I could hide easily but I was still a bit shivery at points. Honestly, it put me in a 90's mood since that was a look I had in high school.
One shocker: not a single person I know was at this set. That surprised me a little since I was getting used to people who knew me as an attorney/film executive seeing me. At least it made the undercover aspect & movie watching easier.
These days, my networking is more strategic & targeted. Unless someone's in a networking group I belong to, I'm not dealing with anyone who's not at the place I'm going to or on that same path. I just don't have time for it & I don't need more people to get all pissy & jealous of me or resent me for any success I have.
Food here was not as plentiful as I've seen on other sets. On some sets, it's ridiculous the amount you have access to. I could easily see someone who did extra work often gain weight as a result of eating so much & sitting. Since I was hungry, I ended up going to a nearby pizza place (we got to go outside to a food place, which also never happens on these shoots) & still need to review it on Yelp. More food was around later, including water which was much appreciated. Smaller production, smaller budget. I kicked myself for not bringing some food from home; after all, I'm more self-sufficient & don't tend to assume others will feed me. That comes from a culture of having to fend for yourself & knowing no one else is going to do anything for you.
We also definitely got that promised concert & got to make actual noise during filming. It was encouraged, which rarely (if ever) happens. I also got to sit near the front of the concert area. Another rarity: I could have brought people if I'd wanted to. My husband wasn't interested so it was just me.
On the redhead front, I saw a red-haired guy & a couple females who I don't think were natural redheads. Regardless, I'd still consider myself unique anyway; no luck finding that elusive twin to trade places with.
I also think I must give off some vibe of authority or aura of being more concerned w/the behind the scenes folk since people in charge have asked me questions or given me a benefit of the doubt you'd not give to the average extra. I've been treated like someone with competence & not just on one set either. Nor did I mention what I do in my real life. At least if I were in their shoes, I wouldn't necessarily do some of that stuff.
So, the lessons learned here:
1. Caffeine and/or sugar (for people like me who can't drink soda so much). If you're going to do an overnight shoot, make sure it's plentiful & available to everyone!!! The background was nodding off by the end at around 6 a.m. or so. We were sitting in rows and I saw people with their heads down.
I noticed these two guys who seemed to be close friends hanging out with each other. One of them had to get up per the AD's direction and it turns out the other guy was resting on him! I thought "You SUCK! The guy who'd let me sleep on him is at home in a comfy bed with our cat probably snuggled next to him." I also wondered if maybe they were a gay couple.
But caffeine & sugar, especially for anyone dealing with heavy equipment.
I can now see why cocaine was so prevalent in the industry back in the day (maybe it still is in some circles). However, cocaine is illegal so let's stick to caffeine & sugar, all right? No one needs to go to jail in a drug bust or lose time, money, etc. from that craziness.
2. If you're going to get hundreds of extras, make sure the person responsible for corralling them has a bullhorn or a megaphone so people can hear him/her. At the very least, invest in an air horn so people will shut the hell up while the person is speaking.
Okay, I should admit that I am heavily partial to air horns. I'd love to get one but my husband won't let me. He claims I'd use one to wake him up but I beg to differ. I love him. I would NOT do that. He'd have to do something terrible to me before I consider inflicting permanent deafness.
I would use an air horn to get noisy people to shut up. One sign you have no business working with the public: you'd seriously consider using an air horn to make stragglers leave the establishment you work in at closing time or if they continue to yammer on about the same point you've given them the answer to. No one can talk louder than the sound of an air horn.
Can you imagine the fun it would be to have an air horn? Someone pissed you off yakking on their cell phone? Blast the air horn! Noisy child with a lazy parent? Set off the air horn right at the deadbeat or the child's ear! I'd pay to see that, seriously. My husband thinks I'd have way too much fun with one. Maybe we should see about getting them for people who direct our films so they can maintain order if yelling "Hey, shut up!" doesn't work. More effective, safer & you won't have to get a firearm permit vs. shooting a gun like the one teacher did in Boston Public to get his class of at-risk students to listen to him. No arrest records with an air horn or at least far less likely.
3. I'll listen to my colleagues when they say I shouldn't be doing overnight shoots or discouraging me from certain things. Happily married people belong at home in bed with their spouses or at least snuggled with them if they're going to be on an overnight film shoot. My husband didn't even sleep that well when I came home at about 8:30 a.m., dog tired, wearing make-up and carrying my stuff. My sleep schedule was screwed up all weekend.
Good lessons and overall, glad for the experience. BWBN5JRMHZ98