A film production is like helicopter physics or magnets. Most people can’t explain how they work and the few who do know don’t want to get into it. Somehow it all comes together. At the core is a bunch of hard work by hundreds of people working really fast and sometimes all night long. Below is my experience as an extra on the set of “A Change of Heart” a new movie starring Jim Belushi .
8:30pm: I pull into the parking lot of the Costco and walk toward a table with sternos and food trays. I’m still new to acting on sets, but I have learned the Craft services table is to production what the death star is to the empire. Without it all power crumbles.
8:45pm: An elderly gentleman named Allen shows up and we get to talking. He’s a regular at doing extra work. We talk for a bit and more people show up. I still have no idea where to go, but I stick to my Sterno rule and grab a coffee. Call time is 9:30 and I am scheduled for 12 hours. By my calculations that puts me at 9:30 A.M. or “ante meridiem” which is Latin for, “ow.”
9:40pm: Wardrobe finds me and I show them my clothes. They like my jeans and my polo shirts. I decide to wear the jeans in my bag because they aren’t as baggy and if the camera catches my backside I want to be ready.
10:12pm Clothed and corralled we walk on set. Kenny Ortega the director is there and he greets us and thanks us for being a part of his movie. He shakes every extras hand which I thought was very nice. He was pleasant and energetic the entire night. It is at this moment I decide I will finally sit down *and *watch *High *School *Musical *3.
10:32pm I am given the role of cashier and adorned with the name “Kenny”. This younger skinner extra was given the name “Truman” I tried to explain to him how he looked more like a Kenny and he could generate a more powerful performance by wearing a name tag that better matched his unique energy…he wasn’t buying it. Kenny it was then. I took my position at the register.
TONY’S RULES FOR OVERNIGHT EXTRA SUCCESS!!!
1. SPEAK ONLY WHEN SPOKEN TO UNLESS SPEAKING TO ANOTHER EXTRA
2. THAT’S IT. SERIOUSLY DO NOT SPEAK TO ANYONE ELSE.
11:40pm I have rung up the same items 17 times. I’m loving it. I had a scanner gun. Who in their right mind thought it was a good idea to give me a scanner gun? Fools! I try role playing with the cashier across from me, but she doesn’t get it. I hand her a business card.
4:00am “Background action…cut! back to one!” This is all I know. There were some funny moments, but nothing too notable. Kenny Ortega is still super nice and energetic. We start to wrap and Matt the (extras wrangler?) asks us if we wouldn’t mind staying a bit longer. Heck yes! This is it! This is when the magic happens! I remember what my Dad always said, “Being there is 90% of it.” I happily wait until…
5:45am Matt, “False alarm, we didn’t need you, you’re wrapped, thank you.”
6:00am I grab a BLT wrap and a diet coke from craft services and head to my car. As the sun came up on my ride home I really had no regrets, and I was happy to be a part of the experience.
I’m working in a Costco and Jim Belushi is just there walking around. I went to bed and I didn’t even dream, my brain was like, “Yeah I got nothing, I was going to make up something weird, but you beat me to it.”
*Marisa here, Tony’s wife, you watched High School Musical 3, you loved it.
*I did? Is that the one where he sings on the golf course?
*No, that’s 2; 3 they graduate.
* Is it the one where he kisses the girl in his clubhouse?
*OK, yes I did see it. You’re right.