Monday, November 22, 2010

Filming Again

Funny that 2 days after I started working at the factory I got a call from my casting agent telling me there was work on a movie coming up soon. To explain this one I have to go way back to when I first arrived in Brisbane months ago. Bre had been here ahead of me of course and so knew a casting agent that she'd registered with trying to get any kind of additional filming work she could while here. I went and had a talk with her and also sort of signed up. I had no hopes of getting any work though really. In Australia the casting agents do the usual measurements and photo or video auditioning for their records but then want you to pay a bunch of money for a membership to have priority access to the jobs. The amount varies with each agency but runs in the couple hundred dollar range which to me was not worth the risk of paying as I had no idea how long I'd be around. So, like I said, not a lot of hope of actually getting a job as I'd said I'd take my chances on the outside list and not pay.
So it was a bit of a surprise and shock when I got a call for a job several months later when I'd all but forgotten I'd even signed up for such work.
It turned out that some Spielberg-produced movie (or possibly tv series?) called Terra Nova was just about to start filming in the area and needed extras. Sweet! I actually can't tell you much about the show as I have no idea myself really. I did not recognize the actor we were working with but I think it won't be shown until 2012 anyway because it is just starting a 6 month filming period.
It was a one-day shoot and would be the first time I'd been involved in any filming since Egypt. So it was with a mix of excitement and curiosity that I showed up on a Thurday afternoon at 3:30pm to be taken to the filming location. Some things were immediately familiar to Egypt, the night filming, the long waits, that barely contained chaos of everyone running around prepping sets and people and the not knowing what exactly was happening next. Unsurprisingly there were a few positive differences too namely food, a lack of fighting and some degree of coordination.
I was one of about 100 extras, chosen because I look thin and scruffy in order to be a homeless/”down and out” person 150 years in the future. We were costumed right away and everyone had been told to not shave and bring the scruffiest clothes they had. Wow, perfect role for me! I wouldn't even have to act, haha. Actually, I'd thrown away my worst stuff not long ago so I was kind disappointed that I had to use some of the costume pieces that they gave us. Then make-uped to get dirty and sit around for the next 8 hours waiting to get on set. Anyone walking by that would've looked up to our waiting area would've believed we were having some sort of hobo convention complete with kids and everything. Some of the extras looked fantastic. There are all sorts of people that do this kind of work and some really looked perfect. Fortunately I knew what to expect with the long waits so I'd brought a book and just quietly sat off to the side and ended up reading 2/3 of it that night. I honestly don't care at all if I get on screen or not (and I'm sure I won't really be visible) but some people take the whole thing so seriously. I just hoped for continual delays so I could continue reading and getting paid for it. I am still not sure exactly what our salary is but it's about $20/hr or so less taxes and the agents' cut.
As it was we didn't get on set until about midnight, we did a bunch of scenes (I got to be on a bus, waiting in a soup kitchen line, and warming myself by a drum fire) and the whole shoot wrapped up at 4am. I am still blown away by how much money, manpower and effort is put into getting a few seconds of film. If even a fraction were thrown into humanitarian efforts.....
I would've posted this a little sooner but the truth was a few days later I was called back to be told that they wanted the extras that had been on the bus (about 25 of us) to come to another shoot a week later for continuity. At this point I was working a lot at the factory but figured since I was only allowed to work 5-6 days a week anyway I might as well do it and call that my day off. This time the shoot was on a friday in Gold Coast so I finished working a night shift at the factory, got a couple hour nap and then jumped on the train (with my next book) to get to this next shoot. It was on a much bigger scale and I was lucky to get the work as a continuity case because I normally wouldn't be there. There were upwards of 500 extras this time and we were filming in the halls of the Robina Stadium. I arrived at 6pm and we only had to sit around for a couple of hours before getting called on set. At first I was a little worried because there were not many of us continuity guys so costuming didn't at first have our stuff from the week before. We were also used for other roles in deep background as onlookers for other scenes but really didn't do much and I got to talking with a few other people to kill the time. I am not sure how many scenes were shot because I wasn't really part of many of them and they were doing quite a few takes while we tried to stay warm in front of the huge lights they were using but our continuity scene was the last one of the night after they let all the other extras go home at 4am. We were again on the bus and finally finished at 6am, after another 12 hour night. It's not hard to look like a dejected, zoned-out homeless guy on a bus when you are completely exhausted in reality. I have no idea if I'll get called again for more filming work but it is kind of fun and interesting in a way, if you don't buy into the self-importance of the industry and it's people, so I hope something else comes up down the line.
I was very kindly driven back to my hostel by one of my fellow extras, jumped in bed for another couple hour nap before heading off to work in the factory again. I have had such an irregular schedule, working night shift all week and sporadic shifts times before that that I've managed to work 10 days in a row and am not really sure what day it is or what the rest of the inside of the hostel looks like. I had a day off finally on Sunday (not that I really want any time off, work is better than my domestic situation in any case) and it was literally only Sunday off. I worked until 11pm on Saturday and started again at 1am on Monday and they still tried to call me in on Sunday but because of the mandatory 10 hour break between shifts I was unable to do it. I hope this pace continues until I leave....
I've been in the hostel for a few days, in a 10-bed dorm room, and can honestly say it's a lot harder to sleep with all the comings and goings so I need to figure something out before I get too exhausted. This hostel is the cheapest in town and the closest to work, only 5 minutes walk or so but the quality is noticeably less than the one I was at before, in terms of space, kitchen and bathrooms anyway. Milk seems to be the #1 stolen item as well in Brisbane since mine almost immediately disappeared and it was rare for me to ever finish one I'd bought at the last hostel too. I think I will start using only half of mine and then sabotaging it for the thieves that want to finish it off....


At 10:00 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Ammon,
Merry Christmas & Happy New year!!!!

Enjoyed the blog, understand the whole 60+ hr workweek, keep that up and you might as well go into medicine. LOL.
As for the milk, y'd think that they could keep their hands off, but there is such a sense of 'my needs are greater than your needs', plus the ' I 'm entitled to this mentality....... makes my teeth grind. I'll bet when they get caught they wil claim they thought it was public, or that they knew you were soooo cool that you would give it to them should they ask. Or " you work for a dairy, we thought you got it for free, so why not share with us". Yeah, I'm old bitter and jaded, adn fed up with the 'entittled people".
Hope you had a good Christmas, and that the flooding isn't goofing up your plans very much.
Got an email from your Mom, sounds like they are well into the Europe your's to discover. They have been everywhere, except scandinavian / nordic countries.

Tak good care, and God Bless.
Big Bear Hugs & Love
The Bear


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