Friday, August 11, 2017

Working Girl

Recently, I've been picking up work as a background extra on various projects. In the past month or so I've worked on 3 different movies, 1 commercial, 2 corporate videos, 1 TV show, and 1 educational video. (And I have more work booked in the coming weeks on another movie.)

I have no ambitions to be an actress. Zero ambition. I'm just doing it because it's easy work to get (if you know what you're doing), and it often pays cash the day of. (Which is a huge perk when you are otherwise unemployed.) (Although the company that said it would pay me the most, hasn't paid me in 6 weeks and counting.)

Which is why the encounter this past week was so funny-
I got called in very last second to work on a corporate video/ad type project. I went in expecting to do the usual standing around in the background. Turns out it was more of a featured spot. No question about it, I will definitely be seen in this short film. The director asked me if I could try and cry on camera. So I made up this crazy story about my dog having cancer and dying, and told it to the other extra in the room. (There will be music and a voiceover in the spot, so while I'm seen talking, you won't hear what I say.)

The traditional filming technique is "wide wide, middle middle, tight tight." Which basically means you take at least one wide, distant shot (picture of the whole room or scene), 2 shots at a closer distance (5-10 feet away), 1 shot from each point of view (in front of the actors, and from behind the actors), and 2 tight shots (looking over the shoulder of character 1 at character 2, and vice versa). I had to do my crying bit through 1 wide shot, 1 middle, and 2 tights. And then the director pulled the camera off the track, and got it right in my face to really "catch the emotion."

The story was sad enough that it got me to cry. But more than that I got the assistant director to cry. And the best boy/gaffer/all around helper guy came up after my little speech and patted me on the back and told me he knew I how I felt because his dog had died that way. I started to laugh because everyone felt so sorry for me. I explained that I had made it all up and I was just acting. The director even gave me a hug!

After I explained it was all fake, the director asked me who my agent is. I told him I don't have an agent because I just do background work, and have no ambitions in this regard. He gave me the names of some agents he likes, and suggested I get signed with someone, because he'd like to work with me again.

This whole situation is hilarious to me. Some people have huge ambitions and work their whole lives to get an agent. I have zero ambitions and have agents coming to me now. And I have more than enough work. Some people work for years to get a commercial placement, and I literally had a featured role in a commercial fall into my lap.

My theory is that it has little to do with me. And a lot to do with the Utah market, and my flexibility and ability to show up. Trust me, before this shoot, I had no idea I could cry on camera. (I guess this makes me a Method actor?) Turns out, I cry pretty good. And I have serious respect for actors who do much bigger emotions with a camera right in their faces. It's not easy!

Now for the next funny part in all of this-
Did I mention the commercial is for a mental health agency? And I was playing the part of a patient talking to a therapist? And they show me walking into the therapist's office, filling out papers, meeting a therapist, and then after the fact, smiling all nice and happy because I'm cured.
Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I am the face of mental health therapy now.
But it gets better than that. At the shoot I had to sign something saying I didn't work for the therapist, nor would I ever. It's actually 2 agencies merging together. The next day I had a job interview. When I went to prepare for the interview, I saw that it was for one of the 2 agencies. I had to cancel the interview and explain why. They said it was one of the more unique reasons they've ever heard for canceling. (I can only imagine!)

This definitely falls into the "life is funnier than fiction" category. You couldn't make this stuff up if you tried. 

1 comment:

Thanks for leaving a comment!

Working Girl

Recently, I've been picking up work as a background extra on various projects. In the past month or so I've worked on 3 different m...

Keep Reading! Popular Posts from this Blog.