Sunday, October 14, 2012

Extra Gigs #7 & #8: Helping A Brother Out & Not Chasing the Fly

The next 2 extra gigs I'm going to write about were through friends. #7 was my own film company and #8 was for the aforementioned Scott Powers Studio, whom I've spoken of before in this very blog.

Gig #7 happened a couple months back when we were doing some shooting for The Butterfly Chasers, our next feature film & the first one that will contain name actors. Being on my own company's set instilled a sense of pride in me. Here's why:

1. My people are incredibly professional. Our Production Coordinator was doing an awesome job and our dear friend Jen (my CEO's significant other who should probably have some hand in casting due to ) introduced herself to everyone upon arrival. This is not something I've seen often in my own extra experiences so I'm glad she took the time to do that.

2. I got to wear an outfit that wasn't mine though our wardrobe person did compliment what I brought for the shoot. The coolest thing was when I stepped out in my dress, everyone just sort of stops, watches me & raves about how great I look. I'm just all nonchalant about it, as I often am. It always kind of shocks me at times when someone & especially when lots of people just marvel at my looks like that. Remember, I wasn't the girl who stopped traffic when I was younger so for me it's not like I generally see a supermodel when I get up in the morning or look in the mirror. When people fawn over me, especially those who could certainly stop traffic themselves, it's like "Really?! You mean ME?!"

3. Our actors aren't pretentious or douchey folk. Granted, I've not personally met any actors on sets who were douchebags & I already knew most of the people on our set but I think even a total stranger would feel the family atmosphere going on. Our people actually spoke to extras & there wasn't that "I'm better than you" vibe going on.

If you ask me, this is a testament to my CEO & my team since they don't have time for or take any mess. I certainly won't, which you know if you've read this blog or met me in real life. It's not so much everyone else is bad; it's that my team went above & beyond to make life on set happy for everyone not just the talent with lines.

Overall, this was the best experience I had & I could certainly impart tips and advice on how to do it right if you've got a small set. Want to know? Ask me.

The best part about working with my team is I already have an IMDB credit for that role.

As for gig #8, which will cover most of this post, I actually solicited for that one. I solicited for #7 as well but that was largely due to it being my company and the fact that I would always be welcome to visit the set at any time as a partner, at my leisure and on my schedule. Plus, that was a shot to see some people I don't get to see regularly.

What happened to my saying "no more?" Well, I decided to look into Scott's gig since I had never done a gig with his company and he gets the most random projects for casting. Plus, knowing his reputation and his Weekly Tips, I figured it would be a good idea for me to go on one of his projects myself to see what caliber of folk he's dealing with, explore the professionalism involved and all that good stuff.

I responded to the ad the week before since the part was tailor made for me & my experiences (my extra gigs have mostly consisted of "pretty business person" & fashionista type roles; pretty much me in real life). I got the role of fashion show attendee/designer. The call time was on a Tuesday morning at 6:30 a.m. so I got very little sleep. As in, 3-4 hours of sleep. On 5 hours, I can function pretty well. On 3-4 hours, I actually didn't do half bad.

Mercifully, the shoot was in Manhattan and at a nightclub that hasn't gotten good reviews on Yelp. The setting itself looked very nice though. Holding was on the 3rd floor of this club on a series of cushioned booth seats.

I got the call for this gig on a Sunday, believe it or not. Since I had free time on Tuesday and two pesky 3 disc CLE courses I should watch before January, I figured it might be worth considering this extra gig so I'd actually make some progress there. I was also bumped up to a higher rate because the person at Scott's office said "You've been here before right? I'm going to bump you up to the higher rate." With that offer (which I never asked for), plans for gig #8 was set in motion.

On arrival, I started watching Disc 1 of one of those CLE courses. After all, it was early in the morning (I got there 30 minutes early) and I didn't know anyone there. In fact, this was the very first extra gig I've done where someone didn't recognize me from my entertainment law/film exec life.

The wardrobe person actually picked out for me the very dress I wanted to wear that day. It's a brand new one and I have not gotten to wear it elsewhere yet. It's black with red roses on it and has a jeweled shoulder piece. When I saw it online, I had to get it. It sort of makes up for a long dress I have in a similar shade that doesn't fit me so well now. I actually wore that one in my senior class picture. You can see me in it in my senior yearbook as I'm sitting with my classmates in our gym's bleachers.

I've said before that I can not take just any old role. Here is an example of why that's so:

One of the roles to be filed for this project was for lingerie models. That is the sort of job I will not do unless it's on my own project since I get to call the shots and decide what I will or won't do if it's my project. The main reasons I won't do any old part are ethical concerns (since I'd rather not be suspended or disbarred for bringing scandal on the legal profession; you can't even be a lawyer working in a dungeon or doing soft core porn if you hope to continue working in my field so I figure it's best not to take chances) & not losing credibility as a film industry exec.

There comes a scene where the lingerie models have to swoon and be groupies to a major hip hop star. They cast a real life hip hop star for this part. That star is affiliated with a well known hip hop group. An executive member of that hip hop group is someone I have met personally & who is a close friend of my CEO's. That executive member has also said very good things about my professionalism & if asked, I'd tell you good things about him as well since I've found him to be a good person.

So imagine if I'd played one of those lingerie models. How would I be able to be the film exec/entertainment lawyer for that hip hop star if I'd been doing this extra scene where I had to play his groupie? It's not exactly outside the realm of possibility that this hip hop star could be considered for a project with my company considering this link to the executive member of that group. Can you saw "awkward?" That kind of thing would mess up my professional cred. Hence, I do not put myself in situations where that could ever be an issue. It's also why I'm extremely & mega-picky when it comes to roles for myself (aside from a spouse who wouldn't appreciate the world gawking at and trying to touch my scantily clad behind).

Another fact you should know about me & being on extra sets: I believe in the whole "extras should be seen and not heard" ethic. If you don't speak to me, I'm not speaking to you. This has been stressed a million times at Central Casting (do not bother the talent) & as a film company owner myself, it is not my intention to disrespect someone else's set. I would kill someone doing that to my team so I'm not about to do that to someone else.

Unless maybe you speak about legal stuff & you're fucking it up, you won't get me to speak. In that scenario, I figure my words would probably be welcome as well as necessary since I'm a skilled professional in that context. It would be akin to a doctor giving medical attention if someone needed it or a person giving it was about to kill the unconscious person by giving him/her the wrong drugs. I think most of us would want that doctor to intervene no matter where we or the doctor was on the food chain.

Generally though, if you want to talk to me you WILL have to talk first. I don't care if you think I'm snobby or unfriendly. You'll have to get off your duff & do something first.

I also don't do much networking on the sets. This is mostly because I do not want a flood of actors bothering me with legal stuff. As I say, I won't ask for your autograph if you don't ask me for free legal advice.

Plus, it seems I also give off the vibe of authority & capability. I like to think I also come off as a professional since it does seem every time I want to sit some days, I get asked to be in a scene. I'm like "An extra's work is never done," & go ahead. After all, that's what you're there for. I did also get fake snow dropped on me as we were doing scenes but it thankfully did not affect my dress.

The biggest take away I have from doing this extra experience: pray for the filmmakers on this set. Pray hard for the cast & crew of this film. Why do I say this? Isn't filmmaking already a hard, long endeavor taking lots of time and energy?

Yes, but I say this for a special reason: the utter unprofessionalism I saw amongst extras!

Clearly, some of these people have never worked for Central Casting. Three standouts in particular come to mind. Let's call them Bitch #1, Bitch #2 and Random Photographer.

Both Bitch #1 & #2 complain about everything the entire day. I hear them at different times of day. Bitch #2 is sitting near me in holding & when the wardrobe person says she can't wear the outfit she had on, she throws a hissy fit about it. The wardrobe person said she liked it but they can't do that b/c of the camera. Apparently, Bitch #2 has never heard that you can't wear white or red for this stuff. She was like "they should have told us no bright colors."

Granted this was not an assignment I would have recommended if you hadn't done extra work before but if you don't know something, ask questions. That's what the people at the casting company are there for. I know they're more than happy to answer questions for you since they know if you aren't happy, you will make things bad for the filmmakers & that will fall back on them. They don't want that.

And some people bitch about Central Casting treating them like children. That experience symbolizes WHY Central Casting does that! Bitch #2 is a living example of why that method works.

Later in the day, she pissed me off when I was trying to pick up my shoes and coat after they'd been moved for filming the last scene. She apparently mistook me for someone who didn't have a life and couldn't squeeze through to get things. After I squeeze by to get my stuff while she's standing in the path (it became a bit of a Mexican standoff), she goes "Oh, that's real classy." After she walks off, I say (probably not loud enough to be heard or if I was, no one commented) "Real nice to make comments like that when you don't even know who you're talking to." She moves away from that spot in holding when we're changing to leave like I care.

Then, when we're signing forms & turning in the paperwork, she harasses this poor PA to make her a copy of the time sheet so she'll have one for her records. It's not so much the asking that bothered me but just her tone & behavior w/this poor young woman. Bitch #2 claimed the jacket in her initial outfit made her look like Anna Wintour. Apparently, she thought she should behave like Anna Wintour on set.

Let me advise would be extras right now: don't behave like Anna Wintour unless you want to be blacklisted from the industry.

Bitch #1 complained on set about not being included in the bar for a scene. She alleged age discrimination against her & the older fellow extra she was talking to. For some reason, they had to occupy space near me. I overheard parts of their conversation & eventually had to move away b/c the negativity was bothering me. For those of you who think I'm a negative person because I'm angry, I think this fact might poke a few holes in that theory. I consider myself more of a realist & rational thinker who will face facts vs. someone who bitches & causes problems where none exist.

I think Bitch #1 left early because I didn't see her later as we were dressing out and leaving set for the day. Another extra informed me later that Bitch #1 openly tried telling the director how to do his job. We were sitting in the audience in that scene & I was glad he was there since guess who was sitting there before? Bitch #1!

Bitch #1 also had the gall to tell me what to do when they were placing us & I was trying to find where to sit for the scene. I hope the director ejected her; she claimed she'd been in this business for years & had experience as an extra. If you heard her, you'd have probably also concluded the same thing I did. Which was "Clearly you are still doing this because you're a whiny, complaining bitch."

The director & telling me what to do stuff happened after she was speaking of her prior experience. She was telling a few other extras about this while I was sitting nearby but not participating in the conversation.

Random Photographer is how I learned about the hip hop artist being in that scene with the lingerie models. I ended up in that scene as someone crossing in front of the action. I don't think having done that will kill my enforcer cred or power as an exec or attorney.

When the director is getting his picture taken with this gentleman, she asks for & gets a picture with him. Apparently, this major hip hop star is looking at doing more films with this director (or at least the director wanted him to) so who knows if this director might be someone I meet or draft paperwork for later on. She tells folks about this major hip hop star being there & how he was with this major rap group where we have that contact. I thought "Info to store for later."

Random photography w/the famous is also a major no-no.

A third fact about me & sets: chances are, I won't know who the hell you are unless you tell me. I don't really watch network shows & remember that as an entertainment law attorney, I'm not a fan of anyone I've not personally met or had an interaction with. You have to actually do something for me to form an impression of you, good or bad. All I know from seeing you on TV or in a movie is whether you've got any talent or not.

I have no idea what type of hell you put the director through or if you return phone calls, have some general humanity or any sense of class. If I don't know that, I'm not going to bother dealing with you or referring you to anyone. I don't care how big your name is; my team doesn't need bullshit. We'll find other names who are respectful & won't be doing things to get on my shit list (a list you do have to put some considerable effort to get onto).

As gatekeeper, I'm not letting you through if you harass, annoy or cause problems for me. This blog should show you enough evidence of how steadfast I am to that ethic. Do your research.

This also goes back to number #1 about extras being seen but not heard. If you've heard I'm some great entertainment law attorney, you'll have to talk to me. Again, I won't talk to you. I prefer online correspondence anyway.

I don't know whether Scott knows about some of this but I really hope those people weren't coming in multiple days for the director's & the PAs' sakes. If asked, I'd certainly elaborate on it.

Lastly, we were there an hour longer that told. You can imagine the carrying on that happened w/that. My main concern was if we went past 7. Since that didn't happen, it was all good.

I also came to a major decision on the whole acting thing. Basically, I decided that doing the whole "get representation" thing & spending tons of days a week working isn't going to work for me. I even said before I wasn't going to do the full time actor thing but I think that includes not getting representation.

Took me a while to come to that choice but I feel it's the best one for me. I'd rather work on my terms and do things in my own way. If someone notices me & wants to do something, I'd rather it be their choice. Essentially, I've decided not to chase the fly but to let the fly come to me instead. If it does, great. If it doesn't, no big deal. I'll get my own opportunities and do things on my time.

I had also decided not to do more extra work until I got a call during Comic Con from a casting company I'd not worked with who asked if I wanted to work next week on "The Good Wife." I also got an offer to work tomorrow but I declined in favor of going shopping with hubby and generally taking a break from the crazy that is Comic Con. More information on that one, along with an accounting of my loot later on. Boy, do I have things to write for that experience!

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