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Posts Tagged ‘extra’

You never know what’s going to happen on a movie or TV set.

I was hired as an extra for a web TV series called The Tesla Archive. I was to play an FBI analyst. My wardrobe instructions specified that I wear black pants or skirt, white button shirt and black blazer. I didn’t have the shirt and pants in my closet. (I steer away from white because I always manage to stain white the first time I wear it.) So my first order of business was a trip to Goodwill for the required wardrobe.

I’m now at an eighteen-dollar loss, because this role doesn’t pay. (I am doing lots of stuff–if it sounds like a fun project–where the only compensation is a nice lunch, a copy of the project once it’s done, and credit. At this stage, I badly need to fill out my resume and put together a reel of clips showing my work. That is my immediate goal. The big pay-offs will come later.)

I drive out to La Mirada–it’s only about thirty minutes and light traffic, so that’s cool–and hang out with my fellow FBI analyst extras. The set is all decked out with computers and screens like an FBI “situation room.” I don’t know the specifics of the show, but there’s some kind of crisis going on and all the analysts are working furiously at computer screens or running to and fro. For the first scene, we did lots of “crosses” where we walk across the set in the background while the main action is going on.

The last scene of the day was a complex one involving one long take, with the camera moving along a track, focusing on various people as they talk and move. My job was to sit at a computer terminal, pretend to stare intently, type and jot things down.

During the rehearsal for this scene, the actor who’s playing my boss (I guess he’s head of operations or something) suddenly walks up to me and says, “Wingate. Any activity from local law enforcement?”

I’m thinking, Crap, what do I do? Extras aren’t supposed to talk. But he was speaking right at me and obviously waiting for an answer, so I said, “None, sir.”

The director of the show liked it and left it in. We filmed it about twenty times (because the shot was so complicated, it was hard to get everything right all at the same time). So I said, “None, sir,” every time. I thought about changing it up. “All’s quiet, sir.” “Quiet as a graveyard, sir.” But I figured that would be pushing it. So I said the best “None, sir” I knew how to say.

After we wrapped for the day, they asked me to invent a first name for myself, and I’d be listed in the credits. I decided my character seemed like a Joan. So I’m “Joan Wingate.”

I don’t know when the series will make its debut. I think the aim is to get it released on Hulu. I will keep you apprised.

Meanwhile, I’m also auditioning for two game shows. Tomorrow is my first audition for Pyramid. (Remember the $100,000 Pyramid with Dick Clark? It’s that game, and it airs on the Game Show Network.) The other is a show called Sing If You Can, by the producers of Don’t Forget the Lyrics and a few other shows. The basic idea is that contestants sing while the people from the show distract you and see if they can get you to flub it up. I survived the first audition, and the second is scheduled for later this week. (I can’t sing, in case you’re wondering, at least, not well. I have no training and have never performed in public unless you count some drunk karaoke. But I figure they have to have some bad contestants that people can make fun of.)

On the writing front, still waiting to hear from Harlequin about the next three Project Justice books. I am having second thoughts about the vampire book and whether I should really send it out. Just not sure that’s the right thing for my career. Hmm.

I had four contractors come out and look at my porch. So far only one has gotten back to me with a bid. It’s a frightening project and the one thing (beyond electricity and plumbing) that we wouldn’t even consider attempting ourselves.

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