Thursday, 14 June 2012

That Little Bit Extra

I've been a lot of things in my time. I've been a horse. I've been an eight year old boy. I've been a soldier and I've been that idiot that corpses on stage. The world of acting has made be a lot of things but not until yesterday had I ever been what is known as a 'background artist.' As an actress, the chance to wander around in the background rarely comes along. I mean you could argue that much of my CV is essentially background work but yesterday was when my official 'extra' virginity was taken.

To be fair, when I applied for the job I didn't realise that the roles weren't featured. The advert was rather vague and I'm fairly sure I wouldn't have applied for it if it hadn't been filming on a day I was supposed to be working and paid more than what I'd normally get for dragging my soul through the most skin-rippingly dull job known to man. I'm that desperate to not be in a job that requires me to talk to people that actually don't know whether they're called 'Mr Otter' or not that I now find myself applying for anything.

So, yesterday I wasn't entirely sure what to expect. After I was cast without an audition, I realised that the role probably wasn't quite as involved as I'd originally thought but that was ok. I wasn't going to work and that's really all I was worried about. Plus, as anyone who has been on a film set before will know, the most exciting thing is breakfast. Breakfast is great anyway but free breakfast? Watch out Mr Bacon Rasher and Mrs Fried Egg, Mama's coming home. I've been on many a shoddy shoot that has been saved by bountiful supplies of bacon sandwiches. So, if nothing else, I was looking forward to my bacon buttie and styrofoam cup of tea to cheer me up before we got started. But how wrong I was. It wasn't until a good hour into the shoot, long after the crew had all had their fill, that a bag of cold, greasy egg sandwiches were passed around us performers. I took one, of course. But it was only out of spite. And hunger. Desperate, nauseating hunger.

And the rest of the shoot wasn't much better. There was the humiliating moment when the 1st AD barked at us all to get in line because the director was shortly about to arrive on set. We stood there in the type of soul-destroying line that is normally reserved for the Royal Variety Performance and he irriatingly walked the entire length of the line, looking us up and down and he shook the hands of a select few (I'm pretty sure this was his secret code to the rest of the crew that these performers were to be sent to a concentration camp.) Add to this the reluctance of the crew to let anyone know what was actually going on and it was quite the infuriating ride.

But the shoot did also have its moments. There was the time when someone asked if what we were shooting were called 'vinaigrettes.' Nope. That'd be 'vignettes.' And then there was the whole body cringe moment when the director asked for someone with colour (meaning a colourful top) to be sat in a certain place. The 1st AD approached a black man in a plain white shirt and just went to motion for him to move before the director shouted, "No! I want someone with colour." The 1st AD turns and goes, "Oh sorry, someone with colour. I thought you said someone of colour." Tension meet knife.

But as shambolic sets go, it was still good fun. It was refreshing not to hear actors constantly trying to outdo each other although there was some incredibly staunch defending going on of part time acting courses. And although everyone appeared to be in competition over who had to travel the furthest/got up the earliest, I'd still choose sitting in a field making daisy chains while waiting for a crew to get organised over listening to an eldery lady tell me about her local church windows any day...

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