i know it’s been a long time since i’ve shown my face around here. (thanks to everyone who’s hung around!) still a bit sorting through reasons why (maybe a post for later), but long story short, not writing these little posts is not helping me answer any of the questions i have been having about what i’m doing and why — here and in a couple other aspects of life. so i’m jumping back in. that’s the plan at least! and since i’m in, you know i gotta post my favorites from the week! this weekend, i’m looking forward to Spy returning home from a week in Germany. with everything going on in Europe right now, i just want him to get home safely! also, pool time, Secret Life of Pets (mandatory viewing!) and a wine tasting on Sunday afternoon. hope y’all have some fun/relaxing stuff planned, too! let’s go . . . Continue reading
i know i’m a few days past the first here, but Hollywood simply won’t schedule their activities around my posting schedule. gaaahh. who do they think they are?
anyway, you got it, guys. earlier this week, my monthly first was being an extra for a movie! mum’s the word about what or where or who until it’s showing in a theater near you. what i can say is that thanks to some sweet state tax credits (among other factors) Atlanta’s TV and film production industry is completely booming and it is amazing to see the sheer number of shows and movies that are in production here at any given time. in 2013, their production budgets totaled nearly $100 million.
for folks here, that means a lot of jobs. i mean a lot. according to the WSJ, there aren’t enough crew members to work on productions. and according to one woman i met at the call, the demand for extras also outweighs the available bodies. she said she pretty much has her choice of assignments whenever she wants them, but just can’t do the 12 and 14 hour days 5 days a week like some people.
even folks not directly related to the industry benefit, as services like technology, lodging, real estate and food service get a boost. Disney alone paid $696 million to 4,066 vendors in Georgia in 2012. it also means cool perks like celeb sightings and gossip about who’s shooting what where, which is always totally exciting.
what’s not totally exciting? being an extra on a movie set. i’ve been on lots of shoots for work before and know they’re boring. there’s a lot of waiting around for shots to get set up with props, lighting and cameras in exactly the right place. then testing and testing again. then adding actors and doing take after take, re-setting in between, until you’ve got that one shot just right — or think you at least have enough good footage to piece it together. the difference between doing that for a 30-second spot or a 2-minute web video versus for a full-length feature film has got to mean thousands of hours of hours of people standing around waiting for shit to happen. for work, i’m also on the other side of the camera, as it were, making sure everything looks right and is happening the way it’s supposed to happen, fielding questions and making decisions. on the contrary, last night was mostly just a lot of standing around. at times, the monotony and the lack of control or even knowing what the plan was seemed excruciating (along with the chilly weather, lack of caffeine and my old-lady back).
anyhoo, while i was standing around wondering why the hell i had signed up for this in the first place, i had a lot of time to observe and reflect on the experience. so since everyone loves a list, here are a few of my takeaways from the experience:
1. dressing for your film debut is crazy hard.
call time was 5:00 p.m. don’t even get me started on the work/babysitter sitch i had to finagle. but i got that worked out, then schlepped like half of my closet to base camp. “casual summer attire” sounds easy, but it’s like when you get a “black tie optional” invite and you’re like totally confused about whether your man’s actually supposed to wear a tux or not and if you should spring for a ballgown or just throw on your LBD of the moment. what’s worse is that you’re basically trying to dress for some wardrobe assistant you’ve never met whose idea of cute is probably totally not yours. and as part of a bigger group of people, it’s not just about you. that wardrobe assistant has to consider whether there are too many girls in dresses versus pants, too many patterns, too many solids, too much orange . . . god, i’m glad i don’t have that job. in the end, i netted out in a cute skirt and top with shoes i would never ever have worn with that outfit in real life. with several cute combinations in tow, my girlfriend ended up in an outfit that looked like our daughters’ school uniforms. none of it made sense.
2. oh, the people you’ll meet.
wow, so this was an education. of about 70 extras last night, they seemed to fall into 3 mostly cliquey categories (real life is still always like high school, right?):
- the neighbors — some of the folks there were just the people who lived in the neighborhood, have regular day jobs and just wanted to see what this whole thing was about (and get to see the actors up close since they have been wandering our ‘hood for a couple weeks). these were my peeps. i thought it would be mostly just us. not so.
- the theater kids — you could just tell these guys had been to film school or acting school and actually want to make a living in the industry. a show tune or pirouette was bound to break out at any time. they might get a break in a show or film, where they are extras on the regular, but you just know they are also into writing and producing and music, too, and are trying to make connections in every facet of Atlanta’s ever-growing entertainment industry so that one day they can be a star. there is an air of drama about these people — from how they gesticulate in conversation to how they never take off their sunglasses (not once) during the course of a 10-hour, mostly-nighttime shoot. you know who you are.
- the semi-pros — these guys are on the extras circuit. (i mean. i didn’t know that even existed.) they all know each other from having been on-set together time after time. Walking Dead . . . Tyler Perry . . . i mean, i think everyone with a pulse is involved in those productions, but when names are dropped it’s more for like street cred and acknowledgement of battle scars than actual name dropping like the theater kids do. the semi-pros rub elbows with the theater kids, but don’t have their same ambitions. these people are (from what i gathered) retired or in school or out of work and making ends meet with odd jobs. they have time on their hands, so they might as well get paid to stand around.
3. settle in. have fun.
like i said, there is a lot of waiting around. the theater kids brought cards. the neighbors one-upped their spades game with Heads Up. after a few hilarious rounds, the theater kids were dying to join in. what ensued was a semi-raucous and semi-raunchy few rounds with new semi-buddies. pretty much never has such a thing happened around here without booze involved. just sayin’. point being, you are going to be there a while. make the best of it and bring something to read (like your blog feed!), work, a game . . . and be open to meeting some people who are totally not like you. they can have some really interesting stories.
4. don’t be a dick (in general, but especially with crafty).
apparently the extras who came before us in the past few weeks ruined every single thing about being an extra. craft services or “crafty” as it’s known <wink>amongst insiders like me</wink>, is the part of the production team that provides all the food. depending on where you fall in the hierarchy of the production, your food may be nicer than others’. kind of like life, right? for non-union “background” talent (like me), you pretty much get cold gruel while everyone else is snacking on filet mignon and Chateau Margeaux. okay. not really, but there is a difference. and there just seems to be something about free food that makes seemingly normal people (background talent) act like maniacs. do you really need to grab 6 bottles of Coke from the crew cooler? we live in Atlanta for god’s sake. that shit comes out of our kitchen faucets. so whatever happened in that tent before we got there meant that for a night shoot scheduled to last until possibly 3:00 a.m., there would be no coffee. no. coffee. i almost died. at some point, i was hallucinating Starbucks smells. when we had a 30 minute break, i considered running home to brew a pot. in the end i didn’t. but in the end, i also cursed the a-holes who
tortured punished us for our forebearers’ sins.
5. don’t do it for the money.
i mean, if you are in clique 2 or 3, there is obvs some financial appeal or you wouldn’t even consider this. the check that i will receive in 2-3 weeks for 10 hours’ work won’t even cover what i paid my amazing, awesome babysitter for staying until 3:00 in the morning. hell, my real job bills me out at like twice that for one hour. but i can see at a different time and stage of life, this would be a cool income supplement and way to meet people/get closer to that ideal entertainment industry job. so there’s that.
6. don’t count on seeing celebs.
i was kind of bummed it’s the time of year for me to get my eyes examined and my contacts may not totally be up to snuff for celeb spotting! like i said. i can’t name any names or tell any of the plot here. but. just know that even if you know who could be on set with you, don’t count on seeing them. turned out that of several main characters with recognizable real names, only a couple were around and involved in scenes being shot when i was there freezing, falling asleep and not getting paid (much). and in all likelihood, y’all ain’t gonna get close to ’em at all.
overall, i am 1,000% psyched that i did this. at the time it mostly sucked. no lie. but with some time to reflect, i love that i had the experience, saw the production details (which i haven’t bored y’all with and is more interesting as a work thing than anything) and also had some good bonding time with some really cool neighbors. and feel like it gave me a good story to tell (to you and to Spy, who finally got home tonight!).
when i can give any more detail, i will! y’all can expect timecode level info. no doubt. ha! have any of you ever done this? i would love to hear your story!
(photo: Geeks of Doom)
i fucking hate awards show season. hate it. it’s just one more reminder that i’m no longer cool and obviously don’t get out enough — or simply don’t have blissful, meandering periods of free time with which to do things like go see movies or watch any television that’s not on Disney Junior.
case in point: last night’s Golden Globes. you know what i was doing in lieu of making red carpet judgements or rooting for Girls and House of Cards? um . . . i don’t even remember. probably cleaning up the kitchen, doing laundry and oh yeah, celebrating the Cowboys’ loss! woo-hoo! damn Cowboys.
so when i cracked open the Facebooks this morning and saw a bunch of links to the winners and the best/worst red carpet looks, i thought that just for fun, i’d take a gander. and then i almost crawled back into bed with a case of Bartles and Jaymes, a mix tape and a VHS of season 2 of 90210. y’all, i have no idea what happened last night. i hardly recognize a single actor, much less the shows/movies, and i’m damn sure i haven’t seen more than 2 of them. what the . . . ?
this is way beyond my usual pre-Oscars declaration that i need to see all these films. i mean. i don’t even know where to start with all this stuff. and what occurred to me was something completely awesome. i haven’t even heard of some of this shit because maybe, just maybe, because of studios (!!??) like Netflix, Amazon and HBO producing original content and distribution and promotion being so diversified (yet targeted). and that is pretty freaking awesome. i mean, i think. it means there is much better stuff to watch, but a much smaller group around the water cooler discussing any particular show. right? this has probably been happening for a few years, but i think this year the actual cultural shift is in full effect.
so earlier this week,
we were watching a Seinfeld rerun was on. because that’s what Spy watches like all the time. did i mention that laugh tracks make me want to stab my eyes out? welcome to my own personal hell. anyway, it was the episode where George gets engaged and Jerry doesn’t (even though George thought they had some kind of pact) and George and Susan watch an episode of Mad About You in bed at the end.
it occurred to me that i hadn’t seen a sitcom reference another sitcom in like forever. it occurred to me that that was like the complete heyday of NBC comedy and ’90s Must See TV, and all those shows were all intertwined in some small way. does anything like that even exist anymore? especially on (gaahh!) network?
i mean, obvs Family Guy and The Cleveland Show reference each other. Spy went to school with Cleveland. and i might have kissed him once (and subsequently helped introduce him to his wife). so we have some personal interest in Animation Domination. and we love the connections we see in those shows.
but other than that, you don’t really see characters doing cross-overs and one show referencing another like you used to, except for the rare spin-off. and it’s because
everything most of the good shows are not being conceived/bought by big networks with a big strategic plan. (i believe) there are more players. more content producers. and more diversity. i’m sure the network moguls do and have hated it, but as a rare watcher and an observer of who won awards last night, i think it’s a really good thing for creativity and couch potatoes. and even though i don’t understand a single second of the fascination, go awards shows! go!
okay, honestly, y’all, i had no idea that was going to go there when i started. but i stand by it. thanks for entertaining the ramble.
and now, for what i actually intended. these ladies have been critiqued 6 ways to Sunday at this point. so i will refrain from comments. simply put, my best dressed — and worst dressed. i think these images from NY Daily News speak for themselves. my one question is: who the fuck is Conchita Wurst?
<editor’s note>JEN ANISTON, WTF WERE YOU THINKING? THERE IS NOTHING, NOTHING, SPECIAL ABOUT THIS AND YOU ALWAYS DELIVER SO MUCH SPECIAL, GIRL! THAT’S WHY YOU GOT GROUPED WITH THIS SORRY COLLECTION.</editor’s note>
wow. putting this together has brought up some interesting things! i’ve always, always thought Ashley Judd would play me in the amazing movie of my life. we are soul sisters in the way that Reese Witherspoon and i would total besties IRL. but Reese is way too blonde. sorry. Ashley’s down to earth. smart. Southern. Liberal. i’ve seen her be funny, serious, deep, natural. she is my it girl and we do kind of look alike. right?
but i have also, most often/most recently in my life been told i look like Megan Fox, Sasha Alexander and Jennifer Tilly (actually a lot). even, this afternoon, writing this, i asked Miss Girl who looks most like Mommy in this collection. Jennifer Tilly. though, in all seriousness, this is the same girl who claimed an African-American guy on a billboard looked like Daddy. turned out because he was wearing a suit. so . . . Jennifer’s voice and typical onscreen personas are dealbreaker, but i’m open.
i still want it to be Ashley. though, if we have younger scenes, that is a whole new casting call that i can’t even think about. and if she runs for something else in 2016, i guess Jennifer will have step in.
having just celebrated Miss Girl’s fourth, birthdays and growing older are top of mind around here. watching Lotte grow up in this gorgeous time lapse video by Dutch artist and filmmaker, Frans Hofmeester, made me well up a little thinking about my little girl growing up. and at the fact that i’m so totally not proactive or organized enough to ever even think to create something like this. ever. just beautiful.
continuing the Bret Easton Ellis theme from last time, i reached back a few years to this one. kind of like the sequel to Less Than Zero, there are a lot of similar personalities, themes and even re-appearing characters (or mentions of them), which i always love. but as the credits rolled, i honestly had no idea what i’d just watched. need to head back to the bookshelf and re-read. as i recall, the book is a collection of interwoven short stories, which is probably why the movie version is so confusing. it’s really hard to include the level of detail and background necessary for total clarity in 90 minutes. that said, i still enjoyed the hell out of it.
even Bret Easton Ellis called this a cold, dead movie . . . about cold, dead people. and it is so classically his work. an hour and a half of fucked up people with too much money and too few morals doing fucked up things to themselves and each other. depressing and fantastic. the story of how it got made and the drama around that and the players involved is maybe even more interesting than the film, itself. i remember reading some of it on Bret’s Twitter feed a while back and just loved watching how it all came together.
love this film. so shallow and so shocking that people really live like this. like an accident i couldn’t turn away from. but in keeping with the shallow theme, none of the characters or their relationships are developed with any depth at all. i’m certain it was on purpose, but it left me longing to get to know these kids.