the past couple weeks have seen quite a bit of activity on the tv background front. after my momentous appearance in a very brief scene on "life on mars," the method for getting "extra" work was known and understood. more brief appearances have occurred in "kings" with ian mcshane. he's shorter in person than he seemed in films. that seems to be the regular thought as i see actors in person. this was a long shoot (an 18 hour day followed by a second shorter day) at a mansion turned museum out on long island. beautiful place that was right up to my standard of living. :) it really was extraordinary. good place for a show about a king. don't you think?
this week, there was a pilot being shot for showtime directed by tim robbins. yep, that's
him eating with all of us non-union scrubs during the lunch break. he was a pretty laid back director. i think he's put on a couple pounds since the shawshank redemption days.
after helping tim put his pilot together, there was work to do on a detective show called "the unusuals". i may actually get a little air time on this one. look for the guy shuffling through paper "investigating" something behind the stars of the show.
then there was gossip girl. i don't know anything about this show except that it's supposed to be the new 90210 but in new york city with kids from the upper east side. my part in gossip girl was to appear in my tuxedo at the theater (supposedly the metropolitan opera - however we shot the scene on staten island at an old theater). even after five hours of shooting, i'm still clueless about this show. all i know is that two of the kids were on a date at the opera. before the show starts and everyone is getting settled in (that was the masterful work of all of us background actors looking like uptown opera attenders getting into our seats, etc.), the girl starts to have some kind of coughing fit. i guess it was funny for some reason, but i'm not sure how it fits into the story. what's remarkable is that this scene in its final form will probably take no more than 2 minutes of air time...if that. there were 250+ extras, all of us getting a minimum of $85 for the shoot and many getting more. some quick math reveals that these two minutes cost about $25,000 in background actors alone. that's before you start figuring in food, snacks, crew, the expensive talent, and other expenses. i don't think the producers of gossip girl know there's a financial crisis going on. in fact, i was just told that i was cut from my catering gig tomorrow...econmics. client needs to save money.
there is a very curious background actor sub-culture. i'm seeing many of the same faces at each of these shoots. i don't think they're going for anything more than background work which is fine...they can make a bit of a living that way. i'll do some more of it, but i will be auditioning for other things, as well. with extra work, you never know what is going to turn up until the day before. so one must live with faith that there will be work tomorrow even though it's unknown til the night before. keeps things interesting.
the wilderness...venturing the unknown, depending on manna from above...he is faithful.