Sunday, May 11, 2008

You Wanna Be In Movies? Part 1

As promised, the story of how I, a humble, unknown writer, photographer, farm hand, got onto a feature film. Not guaranteed to work for anyone. But it was fun!

It gets cold in the South. Not the bone chilling cold you get in a Northern winter, like a blizzard blowing in out of Canada. The deep snow, howling wind, frostbite kind of cold, which I don't miss a bit. Ohio can have it. It's more a rainy, damp cold, just enough to make your bones creak and your muscles stiff. While your head tries to act like a leaky human faucet.

Around the first of February, 2007, I got an email from Film Nashville. I've been to their soirees and workshops. Used to spend a day and drive up to Nashville to meet people and find out about the film community. Went to acting classes, showed up for auditions, did a 48 Hour Film one year. Attended meetings of the Tennessee Screenwriters, everybody hopeful that their screenplay would get bought and they would have to give up hearth and home for the wilds of Hollywood. I did this for about three years, but slowly stopped making it a monthly trip. It was eating into my savings and my writing time.

The email had a notice that a feature film was going to need extras. It would be one day of work, so it wouldn't be too much of a strain. I didn't have a hope in hell of getting any work from this gig, but being bored, sitting in the living room/office, knowing that the weather wasn't going to let up for at least another couple of months...what the hell.

Did a self-portrait, up against the living room wall, once I removed the General McArthur poster. Figured out my hat size, all those other pertinent personal details that they need when they put you in costume. Put the info on the back of the headshot that I printed up for the casting company. Typed up a letter. Slid it all into a big, manila envelope.

On my trip into town that week, I mailed if from the post office. They have almost gotten used to my letters and packages to people in strange places like New York and LA. I usually tell Beverly what's in them, but didn't this time.

I went to the library, got some books and a couple of DVDs, went back to the homestead. Read the books, background info for the novel that I'm working on, watched the DVDs. Forgot all about the headshot.

When the weather wasn't freezing cold, I would do repair work on the farm equipment. Came in from the tractor shed one afternoon and the phone was blinking at me. It was the casting company.

They had called while I working, wanted to know if I was going to be available for the shoot. I sat down and looked at the calendar, then the map. Then I called them up to find out the specifics of the situation.

They explained that I needed to 'stop by' and get fitted for my clothes and get a proper 'era' haircut the day before filming. Uh huh, anything else? Just wear a white dress shirt, dark dress slacks and dress shoes. No problem, part of the work uniform when I was a corporate type.

Would I be able to confirm being a 'background extra' for them. I begged off, I wanted to check and be sure that I would be able to get someone to take care of things on the farm. They agreed to let me call them the next day to let them know whether I was going to do it or not. I got off the phone.

Then, I started laughing.

They thought that I lived somewhere near Chattanooga. In truth, I would have to drive about 300 miles to get to the set. When I figured out the wages, cost of a motel room, gas, etc. I would be paying to be in the movie.

Still, how often do you get the chance to be in a feature film with a couple of Academy Award winners?

Yeah, I buy lottery tickets every so often, too.

This would mean possibly getting my mug up on the big screen.

Then again, it might wind up being stepped on, while reposing on the cutting room floor.

Either way, it would give me time on a feature film set. Which would give me some perspective as to how a major film gets shot. All of which would help when I write a screenplay.

Who am I kidding?

I did it for the women.

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