I’m An Extra, Read All About It

June 23, 2011 at 11:59 am 2 comments

“Hello, Karen speaking.”
“Can you work on Friday?”
“Uhhhh, yes, I can do Friday.”
“Great, I’m sending you to the set of Being Erica.”
Hangs up.

He didn’t say his name, but I’m pretty sure that was my agent. He was calling from a number that I didn’t recognize. I’ve been doing this background stuff for a few weeks now, and I’ve learned you’ve just gotta roll with it. I’ll get an email the night before, telling me where to be and what to bring. Sometimes the email comes in the morning, which is too short notice for my liking. I crave organization and advance scheduling, but I keep seeking out crazy shit like this.

I’m looking forward to Being Erica (that sounds funny), it’s a show I actually know and watch. The other productions I’ve been on are stuff that hasn’t come out yet. I had a few days on Cobu 3D, starring Mini Kevin Bacon and Asian Miley Cyrus. It’s set in New York, so they dress up the Toronto streets to be more New Yorky. Blue mailboxes, yellow taxis, pink hearts, orange stars, green clovers… maybe some of those are Lucky Charms. They covered up a Bank of Montreal sign with an American flag, nice. One of the days I brought my car to the set, and they put New York license plates on it. That’s right, my car is an actor, too! It’s grey and boring and perfect for being in the background. I got an extra $35 to drive it back and forth, but I’m not sure it was worth the stress of navigating downtown rush hour traffic.

Most of the stuff we did for Cobu were club scenes. We’d be standing around in fake night clubs, which were actually a former church, a meatpacking plant and the old stock exchange building. You might even see me in this movie. There’s a shot where I literally bump into the actors on my way out of the club. We fake cheered as the stars danced, held fake drinks and held up prop iPhones. “Whoo, that guy’s totally dancing! Yeah! I’m so interested in watching this!” There’s also some violent stuff. When an actor got smashed over the head with a prop bottle, or the club window exploded, or a stunt guy fired blanks at us in a drive-by shooting… I wasn’t acting when I looked startled and covered my head. Those things jar your nerves after being there for 13 hours.

One day I went to the set of Alphas, a yet-to-be-aired TV show. It’s set in New York, of course. Same fake US mailboxes, cars bearing NY and NJ license plates. I’m starting to realize that most New York-based shows will be crawling with Canadians. I liked Alphas because it was almost like a normal work day… for someone else. I put on a suit, rode the subway to the financial district and reported to work at 9 a.m. Our holding area was in an office tower on Bay Street. My job duties involved sitting, waiting, standing, waiting, and walking up and down the sidewalk. It was really hard to tell the extras apart from the regular people. Even the crew was like: “You, go back there! Wait… are you in this? Okay, good, then go back there!” Every once in a while a random person did wander into the shot. Over my lunch hour I visited a Starbucks where I ordered a grande half-sweet nonfat hazelnut latte. May as well embrace the role. We wrapped at 5 p.m. and I took the subway home again like the imposter that I was.

Well, I have to get up early, so I’ll sign off here. My emailed instructions came in since I started writing this. I’m supposed to dress “for a night out of fun and drinking”. So far, the wardrobe people have never been satisfied with the clothes that I bring. Maybe this will be my lucky dress-up day. It further states that “panty hose and bras and appropriate footwear for the young ladies is essential at all times!!!” Oookaaaay. Do people keep showing up without bras? I don’t quite understand, why, what with the…

Fine. Just roll with it.

Entry filed under: Day Job. Tags: .

Day Jobs You Were Talking About Me

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. David  |  June 26, 2011 at 9:33 pm

    I’ve seen ads on the sci fi channel for this Alphas show. Looks like something I would watch. I’ll keep an eye out for the funny redhead and her car.

  • 2. Karen  |  June 27, 2011 at 3:55 pm

    Thanks, though you may be disappointed due to lack of Karen sightings. I’d just be a blur of dark clothing walking by. My car’s drive-by is in the Cobu movie.

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