Saturday, July 13th, 2002 Selected
About a week earlier, my brother Alan reported to me that he'd noticed in the trade paper Backstage, that Smith & Webster-Davis Casting was to hold a local-to-me Open Casting Call on Saturday, July 14th. Checking their hotline number again, sure enough, the information was there on the Open Call for a few films they had lined up on which work was being sought.
[aka "Badger"] headshot
At this time, working a Wednesday to Sunday 10:00pm to 6:00am graveyard shift, I left work Saturday morning and bussed directly to the audition site in Burbank (relatively near to where I was then domiciled). I arrived at 7:45am and was second in line, the SAG people to be seen from 10am to noon and the non-SAG people from noon onwards. The line lengthened substantially as the few hours wore on and the sun began its slow, heat bearing rise.
We were let in at 9:45am and a sign-in list was started. A lot of good it did: people who'd only just arrived (hours after I and a few others had spent standing outside as the sun began to rise and get hotter and hotter), went right in to the main area and the sign-in sheet was forgotten. I still had to wait for them to take my Poloroid. Fortunately, the casting crew was extremely efficient, and my photo was taken, as were my headshot/resume and registration paperwork. Dixie (one of the main casting people) was who took my Poloroid photo and told me she had work for me on Monday. I was given a local 818 number to call with which to get the information for the Monday call.
I realized if this means if it is for Matchstick Men, it would mean I could be "working with" Nicolas Cage, which would make my having worked with three from the Coppola clan, my having already worked on G-Men From Hell with Christopher Coppola [directing] and with Roman Coppola directing the Game Show Network promo Botulism ! TV spot).
On the way back to the flat, as I waited for a transfer bus, I called the number and got Dixie live, who said for me to call again and she'd Not Answer, so I'd get the message. Unfortunately, the bus arrived immediately (of course ) and I headed back to my flat. I'd realized that while Monday is my day off, I still work Sunday night. To avoid losing those hours, I decided to ask some good friends if I could borrow one of their two conveyances; the one I generally use when I am apartment/dog-sitting for them when they go back to the mid-west to visit family (and as I'd be doing again from July 22nd to August 2nd as it was ). With their conveyance, I could drive right from work (or with which to leave work early, if applicable), and go right to the shoot Monday.
Before calling them, I tried the number again and got Dixie again, who indicated that when I called back to leave the confirmation message, I was to indicate what kind of car I had. I pointed out that (at that precise moment), I did not "have" a car, which she thought "might be a problem, as they want people with cars" (a fact at the open call was inadvertantly not mentioned when giving me the number to call). I called my good friends Laura and Scott and got their okay to borrow their conveyance, then called the number Dixie provided and left my name and voice-mail pager number with which to call and leave the information, et al, as well as the colour and type of conveyance I'd have with me Monday for the shoot (maroon Hyundai Elantra).
Sunday, July 14th, 2002 Calltime
To my slight surprise at the time, I did not receive the information as of the end of Saturday, but I subscribed this to their clearly being Really Busy.
They'd had a lot of people to process.
When I called, I was given the Confirmation Call number, and there found it was not only the first day of principal photography, but the shoot was "only" in North Hollywood, on Saticoy right between Laurel Canyon and Lankershim.
The call time is 6:00am (and of course "suggested" we get there a bit
earlier, as I always do anyway [my rule of thumb regarding movie/TV shoots: I'd rather be thirty minutes early than 30 seconds late]
Just as I arrived early at work my pager went off, Dixie indicating the possibility of being used on Tuesday as well!
Works for me!
Monday, July 15th, 2002 The car is th'star
Working from 9:00pm (instead of starting at my regular 10:00pm shift), I left work at 5:00am and drove to the crew parking lot at the North Hollywood
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Meetinghouse,
arriving approximately 5:30am for my 6:00am call.
In a full shuttle van, we were transported to Datagraphics Data Center, a business building at 6829 Lankershim,
"at" the corner of Lankershim and Vanowen.
Around 7:00am we were shuttled back to the crew parking lot where we retrieved our conveyances and drove them to the set's location where they were "set," in this case, parked across the street.
Around 11:00am, Nacho and I were retrieved again, and we brought our conveyances out onto the street. Nacho parked his grey dust-covered Chevrolet ahead of me on the shoulder, the lane safely behind a long line of traffic cones, and the road being "guarded" by a CHiP officer. The shot was described to us; Nicholas Cage (who I had seen a few times already) was to drive a car on Vanowen westbound, turning right (north) onto Lankershim, making the immediate left into the "official" (primary) parking lot of the office building.
Nacho was to go on Take One, and I would do the same thing for Take Two. The CHiP would halt regular southbound Lankershim traffic. Our task was to pull out southbound ahead of the held traffic and as Cage's conveyance made the left "across our bow," whichever conveyance was up for That Take would pass behind Cage's turned car, and the regular southbound flow of Lankershim traffic would be allowed to pass (and to go on their own merry way) as well.
Take One, Ryan waved on Nacho a bit too early, and he crossed ahead of Cage's left turn.
As instructed, Nacho continued on around the block and returned and positioned himself behind me.
When the six takes were done, Nacho and I returned to main holding where TomKats Catering was nearly ready setting up for lunch. Normally on location, the background is forced to wait until the principal cast and the entire crew has eaten. It was suggested to us that we hit the buffet while we could, so our lunch was from 11:40am to 12:40am. The food was awesome; the prime rib all but melted in one's mouth!
Normally on a film location, time seems to fly by.
For some reason, while it didn't seem to "drag," time didn't really seem to "move"
About what seemed like every 45 or more minutes, each time I would glance at my watch it'd only been a few minutes.
We were wrapped at 5:30pm, and given
various pay bumps:
we were each given an 18 milage bump, the bump for the use of the conveyances, plus 2.5 hours of overtime and five out of six of us (including but not limited to myself) are returning in the morning with a 6:30am call.
I stopped by my friends' place to return to them one of their Thomas Guides, and reporting to them the 50% chance of their conveyance being in the feature.
Tuesday, July 16th, 2002 Subsequently
I showered and got ready, departing silently and without disturbing my then-roommate.
It was around 3pm that I was brought by Ryan to move Laura and Scott's conveyance into the Datagraphics primary front parking lot. Ryan had me hang out just in case the higher-ups wanted it moved (over or elsewhere or whatever). At first I thought How Well it would be seen, but then two other vehicles were moved into position between it and the camera car. They filmed the camera car moving out of the primary parking lot (in reverse) onto Lankershim; it is possible that Scott and Laura's conveyance can be seen during that shot, but later angles infer it being able to be seen during that sequence At Some Point. The camera car's back door was removed so the camera had a clear shot; a wide "running board" was attached for the camera and photographer. They also did a reverse angle shot, replacing the driver's side back door and removing the passenger side back door for that angle. Also, they filmed it from across the street, probably a wide shot, and it could be visible there.
Amusingly, the last shot of the day was called. After they filmed it, "a wrap" was called, so normally everyone of the crew "went 'at ease'," when suddenly another shout went up that they indeed needed One More Shot (or a bit more footage). Everyone scrambled comically with which to get back out of the way and back into the secondary parking lot.
We were wrapped at 6:30pm, given the same 18 milage and conveyance bumps, plus (lunch being only a half hour today), 3.5 hours of overtime and Ryan added a wardrobe bump (our having brought and using our own wardrobe), that would retroactively be added to the day before.
The pleasant Dixie showed up to Say Hi and make sure everything had gone smoothly. The lovely Shondra (Chondra?), a background talent who resembled a cross between Anne Bancroft and Ashey Judd, told Dixie how the day before, whenever the crew turning on the air conditioning, the La-Monge owner would come in to shut it down, eventually causing a few of us to suffer heat-headaches and the like (as though the cheapskate owner was not being paid a fortune renting out the place to the film company).
Second A.D. Jeff Okabayashi also thanked me as I headed back to my friends' conveyance to return it to them. All in all, I was most impressed with the graciousness, the efficiency and friendliness of the entire crew on Matchstick Men, and (as I was never used visibly onscreen as a human being), I hope I am called back to work it again some time in the future.
Friday, July 26th, 2002 Payment for first two days
The two payments arrived, compensating my labour to-date for Matchstick Men. One (the second day's payment) reflected the wardrobe "bump," while the other did not. Considering the two payments arrived but a day or two after the arrival of a Compensation For Labour payment for the Roman Coppola Botulism ! spot (renewed for another cycle), I wasn't about to complain.
Monday, August 5th, 2002 More work
My temp assignment having ended, I was pleased that the gods have looked down and smiled; Dixie paged me for three days' more work on Matchstick Men.
Dixie asked about the car, which I told her I'd have to check with my friends; that I'm available, but it is possible (probable, actually) that my friends may not be able to spare their conveyance for three days straight.
My calltime for the next day, Tuesday the 6th, was 10:00am.
According to the confirmation call line, they're filming earlier in the day a Mexican restaurant scene.
I had to call the line twice; the comprehensive detailed directions to the location were "for the Mexican restaurant scene," so by the time there was any reference to the laundromat scene, suddenly it said we're going to the same place.
So I had to call back to get the "directions" again.
I use quotes as I was taking the MTA.
According to my schedules, I could take either the 212 or 217 down to Slausen to the 108 line west.
The end (or very near the end) of the 108 line is the area of Marina Del Rey at which is the show-up spot, from which we'd be shuttled to the location.
Tuesday, August 6th, 2002 It all comes out in th'wash
Catching the 217 was easy. Fortunately I happened to glance at the route's map and noted in time that the 217 does not go all the way down to Slausen I hastily hopped off and took the returning 217 back to the 212 line and headed south. Once at Slausen, the 108 schedule indicated a few buses, none of which were showing up. Also, I'd previously neglected to notice that the 108 only goes to the end of its line sporadically. Fortunately even the one not showing up was not the only one to get me there early.
Finally the scheduled westbound 108 showed up, fifteen minutes late, and got me to the Marina Del Rey crew parking area around 8:15am. I was understandably surprised that the 108 actually passed where my headshot photographer lived (as well as where the headshot was taken). I got off at Washington and Pacific and the crew parking was barely a hundred feet away. From 8:15am to 9:45am there was no shuttle to the film production base camp. I'd started out waiting alone, and by it arrived there were about fifteen or more of us.
A shame those who book me rarely know the exact base camp location for a film. Generally they know where we Are To Go to be taken somewhere. As it turned out, I'd passed the base camp, on the 108 on Via Marina, before it went around the turn to pass my photographer's place! As it was (let alone my being able to get off the bus at the base camp itself), instead of waiting over an hour, I could have even walked there from crew parking!
We got to base camp and Ryan signed us in. The Mexican restaurant filming was apparently going well. Those of us in the base camp holding talked as lunch was being set up. I fell in with Chad Wolfinbarger and another friendly fellow named James and, not surprisingly, they were quite intrigued (when the subject happened to present itself), with the concept of income tax being voluntary. It's tough to try and condense over ten years' research into a few minutes. I did not even get into why I use the word "conveyance" when most would "just" use the word "car" or "automobile;" that a "conveyance" is what most regular folk use, while a "vehicle," "car," "motor vehicle," or even "automobile" have been re-defined by statute under "color of law" (what seems like law but actually is NOT positive law)
Chad was/is a sound engineer in the music industry and has only just gotten into movie background work. He told me about his calling service that on Friday I will visit and, if it is clear they're as good as he indicates (he's worked every day he's been available !), most likely with which I will sign up. Movie work four to five days a week would certainly work for me!
We lined up for wardrobe, eventually Michael Kaplan arriving to approve of what the wardrobe girls had chosen.
I wore the same outfit I wore the previous time out, mostly as I was not used those days.
From the first days of shooting, Nacho was also booked; he and I being the only two of the original six.
With him was his mother, who Nacho informed me is ninety years old.
Quite seriously, I would not have guessed her to be older than in her late sixties.
Lunch began, and we had access at 12:30. Sometimes I feel I should brown bag lunch, just in case. Today the meal was way "exotic," (nightmarishly over-spiced meat of some kind) and I was (at least) able to eat the honeydew melon and canteloup. The Mexican restaurant background arrived, I think already wrapped, but were given lunch as well.
The rest of us were shuttled to the laundromat location, in nearby Venice right near where I'd park when my former girlfriend and I went down to Venice. As lunch had been finishing, the base camp trucks were all being moved to the new location. The laundromat was located on Main and Market. Chad and I were each selected to come into the laundromat (initially we'd been booked as "pedestrians," so this was for us an "upgrade" with same-pay). Chad and I were each placed at different washing machines. Chad was in the right back corner, near one of the main cameras while I was placed at washer #23, relatively right by the front door.
Ridley Scott smoked a massive cigar while he worked. He directed me to give a "bit of th'eye" to character Angela (young Alison Lohman) as she passed behind me. After one of the rehearsal passes, one A.D. smilingly thought I was bit "too lecherous," but I pointed out that that's what Mr. Scott himself had told me t'do, and the director never gave me an adjustment (a suggestion or direction to change something being done). Unless there's some creative editing, and they leave it as a single shot (her entrance), she passes right behind me, I glance at her as I take sheets and such from my white plastic hamper. Later shots could show me in the background reading a newspaper while my wash is being done.
Nacho's 90 year old mother was placed in a chair at the front window next to Nicolas Cage. Nicolas was wearing an outfit and a hat that gave the appearance of a young Henry Fonda in a prequel for On Golden Pond
I am always amazed at Just How Much Work goes into a "simple" movie scene. Techs everywhere setting up lights, prop people distributing items and such. Chad and I hadn't realized at first that the ceiling fans were brought in: and were even moved over a bit when they needed to be moved. My laundry stack was deemed Too Dark so I was given lighter coloured items. At the top is a contour sheet with orange highlights, and two off-white sheets, and at the bottom were several childrens' chothing items. I had removed my glasses until a pleasantly Brit-accented (A.D.?) named Vincent (almost sounding timid in asking, but I think that was just the British Kent accent ), politely asked me to have'em on.
From the scene, it seems clear this is a "con" movie.
Angela enters, actually seeking a mark.
She espies a woman
briefly engaging in conversation ("Is this machine taken?" and such), and goes to get a soda, dropping a piece of paper.
The woman retrieves it, "but" as it's a lottery ticket, Angela points out (it's not hers as) she's too young to play.
The woman deduces it may have been through a wash; Angela casually "figures" it's a loser ticket anyway.
The woman gets overcome with curiosity and suggests they check the numbers just in case.
Nicolas Cage as Roy, sits reading a newspaper which the woman asks to see to check the lottery numbers.
Most likely that's the scam set-up. I saw nothing beyond that so I don't know how it goes from there. They shot it a few times (I neglected to keep count, but it was not really that many. Eventually they were working on tighter shots and, when it was clear which shots Chad and later I were no longer being seen, we were "stepped out."
Surprisingly, ham, Sloppy Joes and even french fries were being served up in the small parking lot. I happened to notice that Nicolas Cage took almost as many servings of fries as I, although he used ketchup rather liberally on his (I tend to use liberal amounts of salt). Meanwhile, Jeff's dog Carmen was a bit beat. Jeff figured she'll be sleeping soundly tonight.
Suddenly "wrap" was called, at 5:55pm.
Ryan gave us our next-day calltime as 7:00am.
Ryan signed (several of) us out at 6:15pm.
Many had to return to the new base camp a couple of blocks away; those got signed out at 6:30, I later learned (but it was still well within eight hours).
During our many talks throughout the day, Chad and I learned we lived relatively close to each other, so he kindly offered to drive me home and to pick me up in the morning.
"It just makes sense," he pointed out.
I made the mistake of thinking it was Early Enough that I could make it up to Burbank for Laura's dancing "recital" (which with the shoot I was otherwise missing), and I made the further error of calling my friend Mary (as she would be there) on her cell phone, to let her know I was trying to attend. Actually she called us back: in his car Chad let me use his cell, but when it "connected" it sounded like I'd reached a geiger counter. Even Chad could hear the static. Mary hit recall or such and reached us. At that moment thinking I could make it there in time, I told her I was on my way. Unfortunately, by the time I was back and able to head to the Red Line to get to the 94 northbound bus, it was clear I would not even get to Burbank until around 10 or 10:30pm. Feeling awkward and a bit ashamed I called my friends' cell phones and left messages that I could not in fact attend, and even left a message on Laura's home phone, indicating my wish that it had Gone Well
Wednesday, August 7th, 2002 Day Two
I got up at 5am, showered and checked my email, even with enough time to reply to a few, then at 5:35 headed downstairs to wait for Chad. As it was, Chad had arrived a few minutes early himself and was waiting. We zipped down and with virtually no traffic in our way, we actually arrived at the crew parking lot almost at 6am on the nose.
Thankfully there were shuttle vans already waiting. At the base camp, still at the high school on Main, a couple of blocks from the laundromat, we each had a nice breakfast "before the crowd." Ryan came in at 6:55am and was signing in people as they were arriving. We got our vouchers and filled'em out while we waited.
Just before 7am Ryan fetched us to "rush" us all to the set.
There we waited until about 12:15pm.
Chad and I discussed
such as SHC (spontaneous human combustion) and we traded a few true ghosts stories.
We went back to holding and hung out as lunch's preparing was completed. While waiting, James and Chad began to relate a few horror stories about cops. I gave them each an information brochure on PrePaid Legal Services over which to look, which also has the web site address at which they can select Membership Information and at the following screen, select View Movie at which they can check out the li'l ten minute FLASH presentation. Considering previous cop run-ins and the likelihood not only of future such, but of just the statistical probability of needing such legal services, they were most interested
Hair and make-up ate first; we were officially broke for lunch from 1 to 1:30pm. Today the catered food spread was awesome: t-bone steaks, chicken, broccoli, even franks and beans, and of course much more.
The film's production manager
came over and sat with our li'l group.
With her neat accent, Chad suspected her to be "local" to him; Chad himself is from South Carolina (although his accent from there is all but gone).
The friendly Leigh is from North Carolina.
I think she was surprised (and pleased) that I confirmed her name spelling as being "Lee or Leigh," as possibly most people must "just" think "Lee" as the spelling and let it go at that.
We went back to set at 1:40pm. More shots were done of Alison and the con-mark woman Beth going to the phone.
Almost suddenly, at 4:30pm, Chad and I are called to go back into the laudromat. Shots were being done of Nicolas Cage exiting the laundromat and passing the woman and the girl Angela (his character's daughter). As it was noted Chad was "too deep" on the set to be seen, he was asked to step out. As I was so close to the door, I went back to reading the newspaper as my washing continued. They'd put out the wrong hamper and I retreived the correct one used the day before. Ridley Scott was still using the front right corner of the laundromat at which to watch the monitor (front right corner from the perspective of the front door: from inside looking to the outside, it was the front left corner). Either way, he was seated directly in front of me.
Nicolas Cage came in and out a few times while the shot was being set up.
Dominos Pizza had been obtained, and Ridley Scott asked him if he was going to have some.
Cage declined, adding with the barest hint of a dry-witted smile, "I have to watch my girlish figure."
These latter shots (towards the end of the scene) that could include me (taken from outside, so most likely I won't be visible through the glass, but I was there just in case I could be), were completed around 4:50pm.
Chad later told me that Matt, a long-haired young fellow who resembled Ashton Kutcher, had had the audacity to ask an otherwise relaxing Nicolas Cage for an autograph ! It almost got Matt thrown off the set. What was he thinking? I may risk asking for a photo but only if I know I already have permission, or if I've interacted with such personally for quite some time throughout the day or over a number of days. As it was, I deliberately did not even bring with me a camera to this shoot. Actually I wish I had, with which to get a few shots of myself as I looked, of Chad, Jeff with Carmen, et al.
At 6:30pm we were wrapped and signed out at 6:45pm.
Ryan had told us at around 2pm that as of That Time we would not be used the next day.
Sadly (as it were), the crew, as practical and as efficient as they were, and as talented was the cast and director, had indeed obtained all the shots they needed for the laundromat scene.
Jeff indicated to me that possibly Chad's calling service might be getting him work due to Chad's youth and "look." I assured him I'd be checking them out before forking over any substantial money: I need at least two to three days or work per week to validate using them. I realized too late I never exchanged information (email, etc.) with Jeff.
This was a fun shoot; I should be Quite Visible, and while a lot was the regular standard industry "hurry up and wait," it was awesome to watch Ridley Scott's team/crew working together seamlessly. While unlikely I'll work again on this particular picture (being "so" onscreen "already"), I certainly hope I can work with anyone of this group again.
Sunday, September 14, 2003
With her daughter, a friend of mine and I went to the 11:40am matinee at the AMS Century 14 in Century City.
The film is excellent.
With her daughter, a friend of mine and I went to the 11:40am matinee at the AMS Century 14 in Century City.
The film is excellent.
Sunday, December 21, 2003 An unexpected meeting
On Wednesday morning, December 17, 2003, Christopher Seiter passed away after long debilitating health problems. I'd met and knew the pleasant man though his son William, my closest male friend on the west coast. By end of the week, I'd received word that the memorial service/funeral for Chris would be Sunday December 21st at 3:00pm at a church in San Gabriel, about three miles southeast of his Pasadena home at which would be a gathering afterwards.
My friend drove me to the funeral (as Chris's ashes were there, placed atop one of his producer [director-type] chairs). Despite missing a turn and getting there a few minutes after we'd anticipated, we were still first at the gathering at Christopher Seiter's lovely Pasadena home. People began to arrive, many in the industry who had worked with Chris.
One impressively tall gentleman came up to me and, indicating my looking familiar, asked, "You're an actor, aren't you?"
For him to remember me from that work done so long enough ago was impressive.
I asked in what respect he'd worked on it.
Not without irony, my first re-airing of my The Practice episode did air tonight, despite my earlier thinking it was being pushed to next Sunday, and I had been unable to notify anyone, if anyone had missing it showing its first time around.