a few weeks ago, i read that a movie crew would be filming in wichita, using our old cowtown museum as the set, and they would be having open auditions for extras. not having terribly too much to do that particular saturday, i drove to the auditions. after standing in line for a couple of hours, they took my picture and sent me on my way.
right about the time this whole ordeal slipped my mind, i received a call asking if i would be available for two days of filming! without thinking of any responsibilities i may have at work that week, i agreed.
the movie is titled "the only good indian", and is centered around a young indian boy, forced into the boarding school process in the early 1900's.
i arrived on set last friday at 6:30 a.m., and got into wardrobe. after hours of waiting along with other extras, i was called to the set, where i was instructed to walk down the street. after 10 takes, i was sent back to the "extras" lounge. after a few more hours of waiting and a free lunch, i was called to the set again, this time, the general store. waiting to be an extra in the store they looked at me and said.
"hey, you'd make a great cashier, go to wardrobe and change."
i went to wardrobe, and received a "cashier's" outfit, and then was told to go to "make-up." at make-up i was told that i would have to shave my ever present five o'clock shadow to look more "cashiery". after shaving, getting my hair slicked back, and adorned with make-up, i made it back to the general store. being placed behind the camera, a producer came up to me and asked if i had any idea of what was going on in the scene.
"no idea" i said.
he then instructed me that i was to take a package over the counter, smile, nod, and then walk out of frame.
"can you do that?" he said
"i think i can do that" i replied.
"good" he said, "let's see it"
the camera and lights were set, sound was on, and they were about to roll, when the director peered through the camera and saw me looking like i had just run a 5k, sweating in the 103 degree heat.
"can i get a pat down on an actor?" he yelled, to which the on-set make up artist patted me down with a dry cloth.
i only did my scene two times, but in those two times, i really feel i stretched my wings as an actor and explored my creative space. i mean, how can i best convey to the audience that i'm really receiving this package? i dug deep, and brought up a lot of different feelings and emotions i had felt with various packages i had received in my own life.
i hope it worked.
alfred hitchock once said that "actors were cattle", and it definitely felt that way. we were all herded into a room, and guarded at the door so we wouldn't wonder. however instead of grazing on grass, we hovered around a large refreshment table filled with countless goodies, and beverages.
although it was a lot of "hurry up and wait," and of the two days of filming, i probably made it on camera a total of twenty seconds, it was worth it. the whole experience was educational and fascinating, from seeing the preparation that goes into a scene, to the choreography of movement, to talking and getting to know the other extras.
i'm not sure if i'm ready to give up the architecture gig for professional"background artist", but you never know, i mean in just one day i went from towns-person #12 to general store cashier #2!
wichita eagle article: here