02 July 2010

hurry up and wait: my day as an extra

Today I had the opportunity to help a friend who is in film school at Regent by being an extra in her newest project. I believe it's a pilot episode for a TV show.  I'm usually a singer (although not much of a soloist) and have done a very small bit of acting, but lately I've started to feel the acting bug.  And as they say in 'the theat-ah', "There are no small parts, only small actors," so I'll take any gigs that I fit into my not-so-surprisingly empty schedule.

If there's one thing I've learned about being an extra, it's that most of the time you have NO IDEA what is actually going on in the scene. I couldn't hear the actors talking, and I hadn't read the screenplay so I didn't know the plot either. Nor did I really even care. All I could really tell is that this project was slightly comedic and there would be bowling alley scenes (since that's where we were).  The only sounds I could really hear above the din of falling pins were "Speed!" (said after by the sound person I think?) and that lovely clicking noise of the clapboard.  Also, sometimes the extras just have to make up some dialogue to pretend like you're talking in the background. We had a few "How 'bout the weather today? I want to order a hot dog. Now where is my 8 pound ball?" conversations.

After we shot and re-shot and re-shot the scene where I walked by and picked out my ball off the shelf, all I really cared about was whether we were "pretend bowling" (for noise reasons) or I could actually  throw my ball at some pins.  But we did eventually get to bowl . . . a lot.  I bowled five games with a complete stranger, a retired Air Force man who looked remarkably like my father.  My new BFF extra/father figure and I ended up discussing everything from our history in glee clubs to his recent lap-band surgery (ew) to our experiences at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.

Beyond the reminder that there certainly isn't such a thing as a 'free' lunch, probably the most important lesson I learned from this experience is that rented shoes actually hurt like hell after about four hours of relatively non-stop bowling.  And for those of you keeping score at home, my best game was a perfect . . . 100. Ouch.

Those five games pretty much tuckered me out, but all told, it was a great way to spend a Friday.  And that's a wrap.

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