So many ideas, so little time to write them up. I'm still working on balancing my job and everything else.
Meanwhile, I'm resurrecting a Note that I posted to Facebook on March 24, 2010. Only my FB friends can read that, but there's really no reason not to make it public here. I'll put up Part 2 tomorrow.
I can now add "Acting" to my resume, under Professional
Experience. Thanks, Catherine, for pointing out the article about an
open casting call in Wilmington for extras for The Untitled Medical
Drama pilot. As a result, I have now conversed briefly with Janeane
Garofalo, felt the wind of Skeet Ulrich's passage as he
strode along a corridor, been filmed in several scenes (one seems
likely to be aired) and earned a check. I did not see Sissy
Spacek yet, but I may go back for more opportunities later.
CBS show, which so far lacks even a working title, is a John Wells
production. He's responsible for my current favorite, SouthLAnd,
which started on NBC and is now a TNT show (fits in well with the
“Characters Welcome” campaign). This one is about some kind of mobile
medical team that travels the U.S. to help with crises. (Whatever title
they pick, it can hardly be worse than Medical Investigation,
which was a 2004-2005 show about a CDC-style team that investigated
mysterious outbreaks around the country. Hmmm…)
After seeing that
story, I showed up for an open casting call two Sundays ago. They didn't
hold auditions, just had hundreds of people fill out information cards
and get pictures taken. More than 600 people applied that Saturday; I
don’t know that Sunday’s total. Last Thursday, I got voicemail that my
photo had been lost, so I e-mailed my FB icon and my DragonCon
scrubs-costume picture to them. Monday night at 11, I got a phone call
asking if I could be at Winnabow Airport at 6 a.m. Tuesday to be an
extra, portraying a patient. I assembled several casual outfits, as
requested, but could not get to sleep for a while since I had
unfortunately taken a nap earlier.
I dragged myself out of bed around
4:45 and arrived on time (yay, Sarah’s GPS!), checked in at the
registration/food tent and was told to wait for a voucher form before
going to Wardrobe or Makeup. I ignored the continental breakfast, since
it was way before my usual breakfast time. Some guys in the National
Guard section of extras called out to me, “Hey, did you go to Hoggard?
Class of ’84?” So I had a nice little chat with them, including Tony
Ross (didn’t catch the others’ names).
It turned out that Bonanza
Productions hadn’t printed enough vouchers for the 300-plus extras
(portraying patients, medical personnel, volunteers and National
Guards), so eventually the unvouchered “patient” extras had our outfits
checked by someone from Wardrobe. I didn’t end up changing outfits,
though, and received no makeup; I think only people with “injuries” got
anything applied. Then we all streamed over to the hospital tent, which
was huge. It was compartmentalized into several successive waiting
areas, reception/triage, and a treatment room with several specialized
I was excited to get to the front row right before triage,
since I thought that would improve my chances of appearing on the show. I
practiced ad-lib and pantomime dialogue with my neighbors; they had us
make a lot of noise for background first, and then had us be mute while
the actual actors spoke lines.
Then they had several people stand up
in front of the triage desks, blocking me. However, I subsequently had
the amusement of watching Janeane Garofalo (Mystery Men, 24,
The West Wing, etc.) yell “Cuff, I need a cuff!” about 10 times or
so. She is a tiny woman, but intense and energetic.
By the way, if
you’ve ever read anything about TV or filmmaking, you’ll have heard that
it involves hours of waiting and repetition to make clips that last
just a few seconds. I can tell you that this is true, based on my
extensive sample of two experiences as an extra. ;-)
I never realized
that sitting and standing around for a day could be so exhausting.
Janeane (none of the production crew called her Ms. Garofalo) waited
for her forays, she made friends with Larkin, a service dog for a
“patient” extra who was using a wheelchair (real, not a prop/role). I
think she checked with Larkin’s owner (you’re not supposed to interfere
with service dogs that are “working”), but anyway the owner didn’t seem
to mind the petting and sweet-talking that Larkin received.
conversation with Janeane (pronounced Jeh-NEEN) consisted of her asking
me later whether the lady with the dog was still here, and my saying I
thought she was, back in the waiting area, and gesturing toward that
side. That is all. Janeane sneaked back to pet Larkin several more times
during the day and one last time on her way out, receiving enthusiastic
welcomes from the dog. I commented to the owner that this appeared to
be stress relief for both Janeane and Larkin.
After the last “Cuff, I
need a cuff!” iteration, they had the extras take a break so they could
do some rearrangements inside. We stood around in the sunshine and
warmed up. Some of us, including me, stood in front of a big (warm)
outdoor floodlight as well. We joked about getting sunburnt by it, but
when I got home and looked in a mirror, I realized that it had happened
to me. Aloe time!
I had a nice conversation with Casey (K.C.?), an
aspiring actor who has been an extra for One Tree Hill and is
also in some plays. He urged me to consider creative writing as a
career, since I mentioned the woes of the journalism industry.
the break, I got tapped to move into the treatment area. I sat in a
chair while Ken (whose medical nametag said Mike) pretended to take my
pulse and tried to make me laugh with his whispered/pantomimed dialogue.
I resisted as best I could, hissing, “This is not a joke! Don’t
patronize me, Doctor, I need help!” Our little contest was rather fun,
Then (1 p.m.) everybody broke for lunch, with a choice
of herbed chicken or salmon chimmichurro (yum!), salad, potatoes,
broccoli and brownies. Another film/TV rumor I can “confirm” is the
ample food on set. All day, they had tables of snacks set up, in
addition to the catered breakfast and lunch. (Even at Fiddler’s Creek
Production’s zombie commercial shooting this winter, where I volunteered
as an extra, pizza, chips and candy bars were plenteous.) During lunch,
Bonanza finally got the voucher forms to everyone.
After lunch, we
moved back to our places. I got moved from my patient/pulse role to
stand behind a long table with some other patient/lookie-loos as we were
filmed all agog watching Skeet Ulrich’s big scene (multiple
times). There were plenty of other people in the scene, including
Janeane and Twilight actress Rachelle Lefevre, but he was the
center of that scene. Ulrich (Jericho, Scream; incidentally, the
nephew of retired NASCAR driver Ricky Rudd) looks very tall rushing
through a doorway and shouting, but fairly average-sized when standing
quietly. He must just have a command presence that acts as a size
I won’t say what was happening in this crucial scene,
although the production company didn’t make us sign nondisclosure
agreements. I think my little tidbits here about the production process
are harmless, but I just don’t feel it would be fair for me to give plot
They had us break again after that. I wasn’t in the
background this time, but I stood as close to the treatment area as I
could, so I could go on watching. Then they told the back half of the
room full of extras that they could go home. I felt lucky to stay.
sat and talked with Larkin’s owner. Someone else said she heard a rumor
that Sissy Spacek had been spotted in Wilmington and was joining
this show. I said that was really unlikely, since it would have been all
over the news if she had.
Then the crew came back and picked some
more people, including me, for background. I hope they cut the other
clips that have me, for continuity, but keep this one! They had extras
watching the big scene again, but this time we formed a sort of
corridor. We reacted as the scene progressed. At the end, Skeet Ulrich
strode along between us, passing just inches from me.
Then they had
the extras sit down again while they shot more close-ups of the scene.
Finally, they ended filming for the night, and started processing the
extras’ paperwork. They asked us all to come back. I got out of there at
Sadly, I have real work on Wednesday and Thursday afternoons
(as opposed to play-work on set), so I couldn’t commit to either of
those days. However, they told me to call on Thursday to see if I can go
again on Friday, and maybe next week.
Once I got home, I checked
online and discovered that yes, Sissy Spacek is indeed joining
the cast. Yay for the show’s visibility! Maybe SouthLAnd’s
critical raves helped convince her to sign up for this. http://www.starnewsonline.com/article/20100323/ARTICLES/100329920
entertainment chatter bores you, I hope you stopped reading long ago. I
enjoyed the day quite a bit, and I hope some of my friends and
relatives appreciate this one-day immersion in the Wilmington TV