Sunday, 26 August 2012

Extra, Extra: Day 2 in the Life

Be sure to read Day 1 of our adventure here first.


Shooting Day – 1, 8:45 PM: Receive call from casting dudes. Cast call time is at 2:30 PM. Wardrobe instructions are strange; we are to bring 3 outfits, which contradicts our “dress exactly the same” instruction. We have a new place to park.

Shooting Day 2:

1:50 PM: We arrive at the Circus; it is full of some 50 extras of ages 7 to 70, including everyone from Day 1, most of whom had been there since their call time of 12 PM. The 2nd AD is in a panic because she thought we weren’t coming, and we are essential for continuity since we were filmed outside yesterday, and today the scene continues inside. We are afraid we screwed up the call time, but there’s a sheet listing us with a 2:30 PM call time. There is a long lineup for hair and make-up. The 2nd AD butts us into the hair and make-up queue. I’m cleared by make-up, hair and wardrobe. Karen is part the way through make-up when everyone is told we must clear the Circus for the principal cast and crew lunch. All ~50 extras are piled into vans and sent to the on-set holding. Then the Union extras are pulled out and sent back to the Circus for lunch, an error on someone’s part. There are snacks but no lunch in the on-set holding area. We wait.

3:25 PM: All ~50 extras are shuttled back to the Circus for a big hot lunch. There are principal cast and crew still sitting around, including the director and two named stars. No one seems to care, which is as it should be. Hair and make-up continues trying to get all 50 people done. We are told by the hair dude to “expect a late night”. After lunch, we wait.

5:40 PM: All ~50 extras are sent once again back to on-set holding. We wait.

7:00 PM: The 1st Assistant Director comes and tells us the set up for our scene has commenced. The 2nd AD runs us though our scene, which is in a church. Her assistant has worked up a seating plan, which will form the basis of how we will be arranged. The folks seated in the rear 3 rows of seating are critical to the scene and will be used most of the night. The head of extras casting announces that the Producer will be coming through on-set holding and the set to select extras to go to film some other scenes in Pincher Creek later this month for continuity. The room is pumped.

7:30 PM: We start filing onto the set in our assigned fashion. We, and several others from yesterday, are not seated in the “prized” 3 rows; some are visibly unhappy with this. A lot is happening on the set. Lighting is still setting up. Camera angles are being discussed. The Director is tweaking everything, from extras seating arrangements to flower layout to set decoration. After everyone is placed, a camera dolly is installed. A few of the principal cast that are in the shot arrive. The Director gives everyone a great pep talk and description of the scene and actions he wants. We rehearse the 60-second scene twice, and there is dialog (but we can barely hear it, not that we’re supposed to). We shoot, but a couple of extras screw up and makes noise when they’re not supposed to, and the Director reprimands us gently. We shoot the scene 5 or 6 times with a wide-angle shot. Then they switch to a tight shot. The extras not in the tight shot (including us) are released to on-set holding where we wait in virtual silence, since it is within microphone shot of the set. Over the next few hours, other extras are released as the shots get tighter and tighter.

8:00 PM: Fresh grilled cheese sandwiches are made. They are exactly what we needed – hot comfort food. Over the next little while, principal cast members and crew drift in and out to grab a hot sandwich, and more extras are released to holding.

10:15 PM: All the extras are now in holding. The head of extras casting runs a poll as to who can come to Pincher Creek. She compares this list to the folks ID’d by the Producer. We are not selected.

10:30 PM: The 1st AD comes and announces a set reversal. We’re starting from the beginning of the scene again but shooting with the camera facing the other direction. We wait.

10:45 PM: We are all called back to set. We are instructed to sit exactly where we were before. But a single pew has been removed, and it takes a moment to sort that out for continuity. The principal cast in the scene arrives. Another pep talk from the director. Yet another tricky scene to shoot, despite being only 30 seconds long. There are 3 different camera angles, a long kiss with specific body posture, and specific timing cues. One of the camera assistants asks me how late the Drake Bar in Canmore is open. Not a good sign.

11:15 PM: Shooting commences. We do a half-dozen rehearsals. We shoot it 10 or more times from each camera angle. Because it’s a passionate kiss, hair and makeup do “repairs” to the cast after every shot.

12:05 AM: Once again, they switch to a tight shot, cutting extras from the frame. We and about 20 other extras are cleared to on-set holding. Here, there is pizza, though it has apparently been here for a while, for it is cold. Everyone digs in for we are all famished.

12:15 AM: Another 10 extras are cleared to join us. They, too, dig in. The pizza is now gone. 20 or so extras remain for final shots. They will get no pizza. The 30 of us are all declared wrapped. We say our goodbyes to the others we have spent 2 days with; they are disappointed we won’t be coming to Pincher Creek with them. Transport back to the Circus (and our car) is waiting. We ride back with 2 extras who never made a single scene, and simply sat in holding for over 12 hours.

12:45 AM: We are home. We are still hungry. Late night pasta helps a lot.

Epilogue of Day 2:

We learned that they split the call times in two to better manage hair and makeup. The 2:30 call time was in fact correct, but that info wasn’t passed to the 2nd AD, hence the confusion.

The crew call for Day 2 was 8:30 AM. So the majority of the crew – lighting, cameras, AD’s, wardrobe, make-up, gaffers, riggers, location, greens, sound – worked from 8:30 AM to at least 12:30 AM.


Read all about what we learned from the experience here.

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