Wednesday, November 04, 2009
the [key] to any acting career
if you've been reading this blog for a while, you may or may not remember some years ago, i had the opportunity to be an extra in an independent film shooting in wichita. you may or may not also remember the story of how i was promoted from just an extra to cashier #2!
well...after years of waiting, the film finally made it's wichita debut the other week! it was the opening movie for the tallgrass film festival held every fall. over the years i've kept in touch with a handful of the other extras. there's something to be said about a group of strangers stuck in a room together with nothing to do for ten hours but play cards...it bonds you. anyway, upon hearing it was showing, we all bought tickets so we could enjoy the film together. while the movie played, we would point out when we saw each other in the background and marvel at ourselves on the big screen. i, of course, anxiously waited for the cashier#2 scene in the hardware store. halfway into the movie, it came. the lead actor walked into the store and approached the cash register. my heart pounded...this was it...my big screen debut! this would be my "brad-pitt-in-thelma-and-louise" moment. i waited for the camera to change angles, wondering the whole time how i would look! i waited...and waited..and waited. the angle never changed. the lead actor tossed some change on the counter, picked up a package off screen, and than walked out.
yup...cashier#2 had been cut.
my big moment had ended up on some editing room floor. as the next scene took place, i was left wondering if my expression had not been right? was my motivation wrong? had i not conveyed the feeling of being a cashier in the early 1900's. did my face not transmit to the audience how important this package was? did my character not further the plot enough? the obvious answer was, no, it did not.
my disappointment didn't last long as i found i had made it into a few background shots, for a total screen time of about half a second. even with minimal face time, the whole experience was worth it. after the film, the director kevin willmott and lead actor wes studi stayed to answer questions before everyone headed to the opening night gala. after the event, my friends and i went out to eat and continued discussing films and future auditions. the night ended with me feeling very full of myself, ready to move to hollywood. as i went to start my truck, trying to figure out how to get ari gold as my agent and who might fill out the rest of my entourage, the key broke off in the ignition, rendering my truck unable to start. i walked home that night, alone, in the dark, with thoughts of my own series quickly vanishing. i called a locksmith the next day. he tinkered around and eventually got the other half of the key out. as i looked at the bill he handed me, which, being on a weekend, was extremely high, the total was a very familiar number.
it was, almost to the dollar, the same amount i had been paid for two days of work as an extra.
this kind of thing never happens to ted danson.