It has almost been an entire week since it happened, but I was an extra on the new television show Unforgettable (CBS Television Studios). It's about a crime-solver, never-forgets-a-thing woman played by sharp as a whip, Poppy Montgomery (I got to see her do her own make-up and the other women do her hair). They also had Michael Gaston--the man that loves to be hated in most of the successful television shows on today as a guest star. Plus, Dylan Walsh (I made eye contact with him, but still hadn't forgiven him for his character in a show I'd seen earlier that week. . . I know I'm a little ridiculous, yeesh).
The scenes you may see me in the back of are one where people are fleeing the building because of some sort of scare. I am one of the people staring for all I'm worth trying to figure out what is going on. Please imagine my just-kidding-snooty voice coming on, "I know, it took years of practice to do that."
I walked out from behind a fire truck with its lights on with my proverbial BFF Leslie (that's her real name), gawked like I was about to be struck dead from surprise that people are fleeing from a building in my neighborhood. Then I walked behind another lights blaring fire truck. For my character's name during that sequence I chose Louvenia Chanticleer Swashbuckler; gorgeous hipster, from Casper, Wyoming.
They filmed it probably about twelve times with 5-10 minutes breaks between. It was pretty hot that day so I stayed as close to the fire truck as possible for shade, then I moved up so I could still have some shade--closer, gulp, to the crew--entirely engulfed in their crewly business.
Then we went back to the holding. The holding is where they keep the background artists while they set up another scene and where the background (as they call us) hang out. There was one bathroom for 160 of us, so if one really had to go then one had to trek four blocks to the honey wagon (seriously, that's what they call the bathroom in a truck) where there were two more stalls for girls and two more stalls (I'm assuming) for boys. They also had the food tent (though I think they called it something else, I forget).
Now, before you think I'm this amazing extra at the top of her game, I want you to understand I got a total of one hour of sleep the night before and was running completely on adrenaline. So I didn't think to talk to the main actors--which may or may not have been a blessing.
Then after a lunch at a church about 3/4 a mile from holding/scene we went to the next scene, where I played a business woman. Ocea Clyve, was my character's name, from Hoboken, enough said. I was a superior jay-walking rectangle walker, walking with another character BFF outside a restaurant, wherein Ms. Montgomery was acting.
It all happened in Williamsburg on Berry Street between N 7th and 9th St or Ave. Some of the people (I'll admit it, the slender and well-built people) got to be on the roasting hot inside of the restaurant. At first I wanted to be in there, but was afterward exceedingly grateful not to be cooked.
One of the Assistant Assistant Directors or their under-whatever had picture of the original Little Rascals, Buckwheat, laughing on his t-shirt (which I really liked), but the guy almost had a heart attack when he saw the background artists sitting down and made us move every time--even though we weren't needed and not in the way at the moment. I learned that if I saw that shirt peeking around any corners to immediately stand up so as to avoid the wrath of the all-background-artists-have-no-reason-to-be-resting-Buckwheat-guy.
Background actors are fed. We have two people moving us about and telling us to hush or walk faster, but to the rest of the crew--it is like we are invisible--okay, except for that Buckwheat guy, whom we clearly bother.
I went to ask some questions (like in previous posts) and the make-up lady looked at me and said in a seriously annoyed tone of voice, "Are you background?"
I answered kindly back, "Yes."
She moved her bag, like I could sit down and talk and then another lady came and the make-up lady called out, "Oh, I've been waiting for you." She didn't look at me or give me any more of the time of day, but let the lady sit in the spot she'd just cleared. Meanie.
So, from that point on, I pretty much steered clear of the crew. Seems, not being an actor is a better advantage for getting answers out of these people. But I did get to watch the screens for a moment until the director came out. He had long white waspy hair. One of the crew left a few minutes before the background artists. He said he'd been fired, which left me feeling slightly hollow (but not to worry, we saw him setting up a few blocks down). Only the drivers were really willing to talk. They were really friendly.
It was so fun to talk to the other extras and to learn about their experiences and their schedules for the rest of the week. One of them could have made the star-gossip channels look like some back woods newspaper, because she had a lot of information on the stars on the sets she'd been on. she was quite colorful.
Most of them want to be actors. Some had been background actors for quite awhile, others only three or four times.
Overall it felt like riding a ski lift for the first time--scary, exciting,exhilarating and limiting all at the same time.
There are many more details, but I'm writing a blog post, not a book, so if you want more details, leave a comment with your questions and I'll answer them if you like. I did not take any pictures because everything I read said pictures taken can mean immediate firing.