"My work as an actor on location/set
is to have the Producer's and Director's visions
up on the screen...!"

- - Badger

Badger working on
Red Dragon

Geoffrey Gould theatrical 8x10 [click photo for better view] Saturday, December 01, 2001:

At Background Players I attended an open casting call scheduled for twelve noon for the Universal Pictures film Red Dragon, (while the prequel to Silence of the Lambs, actually it is the remake of the Michael Mann thriller Manhunter, in which Scotland born actor Brian Cox originated on film the role of Dr. Hannibal Lecter…). The feature is being filmed in January (through April, I believe).

I was the first applicant there at 7:30am. I felt a bit silly for a time, being the only one there until about 9:30am, when a second actor arrived, initially having thought himself being a bit earlier as well. However, I had brought with me a collapsible chair I'd obtained at CostCo for not only just such a purpose but to bring to shoots on which to relax.
By 10:30am more and more people began lining up behind the two of us.
A little after noon they were ready for us; we each filled out a little form, had a poloroid shot taken, submitted headshots (where applicable ), and we each were done.

Wednesday, January 02, 2002:

I got a call from Judy at Background Players regarding my availability for the feature, shooting the following Tuesday January 8th down in Vernon.
It is being called a "split-call," day shooting into night. Hopefully this will mean either some sort of pay bump or wonderfully serious overtime. The shoot will entail rain (i.e., a pay bump for water work), a 30 miles mileage bump (when I was booked I was told that Vernon is about 30 miles south of Los Angeles), etc.
I was told to call a Hotline number Monday evening (the 7th) for call time and directions. The "only problem" with that is the location invariably tends to be some Meeting Spot far from the actual set (i.e., parking for car drivers who are then shuttled to the location). Telling me the actual location would help as I can just go straught there via the MTA .

A look at the Thomas Guide and checking the MTA routes at the SCAG site, Vernon doesn't seem all that far away. If the li'l squares in the Thomas Guide are one mile each, then Vernon is just a little over four or five miles directly due south from my work on the Florida Tire Kingdom commercial, Dude Where's My Car? and The Mexican, all three of which were in the same one-block radio of each other.

Monday, January 07, 2002:

I checked the Hotline and got the information: I had a 2:00pm call time at 52nd Street in Vernon. A quick check at SCAG and I was able to get my MTA directions.

clapboard
Tuesday, January 08, 2002:

Prior to departing, I called SAG and they defined a Split-Call (the type on which I was booked) as getting a voucher for the first part (day) and a second voucher for the second part (night).

Transport there was without problem or delay, but as always, the Hotline Infomation did not give a specific address, just "directions." Once I got myself to 52nd Street in Vernon, I had to seek out the parking lot which ended up having no sign indicating it was the place I sought.

I arrived at 1:45pm and with a few others who were showing up we were shuttled to the Chromolux location (all of two blocks away). We were shown to holding and a Texan girl with a thick accent signed us in.

Apparently it was the second day of shooting. One guy said upon arrival that as he arrived the radio was doing a story on how this production is being sued, as apprently there is a dispute as to "who owns the rights" (we're not sure if it meant the rights to the story or the rights to the Hannibal Lecter character or the story's character).
We were told the director was Brett Ratner who directed Rush Hour II, and those of us knowing the Red Dragon story from the initial film Manhunter knew Anthony Hopkins would not be on hand. While it was indicated (when we were booked) that star Ralph Fiennes would be on set, I never actually saw him if he was.

We were hastened to wardrobe where my brought clothes were considered, and I was given a different shirt (brown plaid), a short grey scarf and a black (with gold zippers) jacket. We were then sent to wait in holding.

At 3:20pm we were taken to set, which in this case was the small parking lot in front of the large sea-green (fictional company?) Chromolux building. This generally was Establishing Shot(s): people going in and out of the building. In the bright sunlight it occured to me the gold zippers (a few on the sleeves) seemed yellow enough that with the black jacket were still the Hufflepuff House colours. No hat: I also chose to wear my glasses.
The camera was set (from what I could make out) on the opposite corner of the same side of the street. Several cars were set to drive by, pull in, etc., their license plates replaced with Missouri state license plates.

If I am visible, I am walking towards camera from about the middle of the parking lot. I turn (screen) right (my left) up the ramp next to the stairs and into the door. Considering when we'd re-set ("Back to one!") there was suddenly a large van there, done up as a Chromolux delivery van, I presume it drives up behind me as making a delivery. I think five or six takes were done before we went back to holding.

While waiting I fell in with Caro Moreno and Suzan Solomon. Suzan had just recently reactivated her SAG status and this was her first acting work in a long time, mostly being a singer. Apart from pleasantries, we networked and exchanged valueable (acting) work information. Caro was also told when she was booked that this was [to be] a split-call, so we figured if they tried to stiff us, we might have to contact SAG the next day.

It should be noted that throughout the day this Texas A.D. girl continually made identical announcements, about every four or five minutes, implying that either she had a very short attention span and almost immediately forget that she'd just made to us the very same statement about a hundred times, or she was willfully insulting our intelligence.
Officially insulting our intelligence would come at sign out…

Meal Penalty!
Having been signed in at 2:00pm, we broke for "lunch" at 9:00pm for an hour (seven hours after sign-in, making for a full hour meal penalty).
Overtime!
Having been signed in at 2:00pm, overtime began at 11:00pm (eight hours after sign-in).

At 12:35am we were brought to the front lobby "to be placed" for the rain scene. A little over an hour later people began getting placed (I did not get placed: I am not in the rain scene). At 3:00am we were brought back to holding to be wrapped.

Now anyone who has read any of my other on-set reports here knows that as a general rule I rarely speak ill of a company or of an A.D. (but not all of them can be a Jim Goldthwaite [see reports on Stealing Harvard, Sabrina the Teenage Witch and Dude, Where's My Car? regarding this impressively awesome A.D.]…), however, this is the second day of shooting on this feature, and they're already trying to stiff its workers…? More accurately that is to say, based on results, this is the second day of shooting on this feature, and they are already trying to stiff its workers.

  • The two-vouchers for the split-call did not happen.

  • We were signed out at 3:15am, although sign-out time should have been no less than 3:30am, as we were still to be shuttled back to the parking lot).

  • The A.D. girl attempted to ignore (then attempted to veto outright) our promised mileage bump.

  • A Thought: Could this have been her Very First A.D. job? She clearly had no clue as to SAG union rules.
    To a roomful of time-keeping SAG actors (who were between she and the exits), no right-minded A.D. would say the foolish statement, "There are no meal penalties on this shoot…" (yet she did)…
    We know we had at least two meal penalties but they're trying to stiff us on that with a false NDB (for apparently a 2:00pm Non Deductible Breakfast) of which no one was notifed at sign-in time (SAG union rules state they have to tell us about any NDB when we arrive [so we can take advantage of it]; no one did: many people showing up were sent directly to their to-be-filmed cars to wait for filming hours later). Even if the NDB is allowed, that would still have had lunch as being 45 minutes late…

  • I know there are at least five people there (myself included) who would be calling SAG the next day to lodge complaints.

I am not sure (yet) if the single voucher with the overtime would be equal to, less than or more than having two straight $105 vouchers. Possibly the former, actually, but I'll be complaining as to the meal penalty. Even if they get away with the lie that fifteen minutes was for NDB (Non Deductible Breakfast allowance) when no one was told about it when we signed in, that would then still make the first lunch 45 minutes late.

Now it may seem petty (to non-actors or to non-professional actors), but at the SAG orientation meeting for new members, we were warned how even (actually mostly) big companies will do what they can to nickel and dime background workers out of pay for performed work, and to keep track of time and stuff (as several others and I did).

With a few hours prior to the first bus of the day headed towards the Valley, Suzan was kind enough to give me a lift home, so I got home at 4:30am.

Time Event Time Elapsed Time
"On Clock"
1:45pm Arrival; shuttled to location 00:00 -00:15
1:55pm Sign-in 00:10 -00:05
1:58pm To Wardrobe 00:13 -00:02
2:30pm Placed in holding 00:45 00:30
2:50pm Hair and make-up looks us over 01:40 00:50
3:20pm To set: placed 01:35 01:20
3:30pm Filming 01:45 01:30
3:50pm Back to holding 02:10 01:50
8:00pm True meal penalty begins 06:15 06:00
8:15pm If NDB actually exists (and they get away with having not told any of us about it), "their" meal penalty begins 06:30 06:15
9:00pm Meal break: one hour meal penalty
If NDB exists, then "only" :45 minute meal penalty
07:15 06:00
10:00pm Meal time ends 08:15 07:00
11:00pm True overtime begins 09:15 08:00
12:35am Brought to lobby to be placed for rain scene 10:50 09:35
01:40am Several actors get placed for rain; many (as well as myself) wait in lobby 11:55 10:40
02:30am Rain scene begins filming: I am not used 12:45 11:30
02:55am Scene shot; brought back to holding 13:10 11:55
03:00am
to
03:15am
(Thinking we won't notice?), A.D. tries various ways to underpay our work. We get signed out at 3:15am. 13:30 12:15
03:20am Shuttled back to parking lot 13:35
03:30am Arrival back at parking lot 13:45
04:30am Arrival home, thanks to Suzan's kindness driving me home 14:45

Wednesday, January 09, 2002:

I spoke with SAG Production Services (background) and explained what'd happened at the shoot, and how they're trying to stiff us. I was told a claim form would be sent (he took my mailing information), and when the check arrives, to photocopy the stub, the voucher and if it's applicable, SAG will do a Blanket Claim for all union people working that day. It was also indicated at least two other complaints had already come in.

Friday, March 09, 2002:

I did finally get the check for the meal penalty, by the way…

Updating some page information, I found a currently tentative release date is set for November 22, 2002. Apparently they want the film sandwiched and crushed between Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (scheduled for release one week earlier), and by The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (being released one month later)…

Saturday, October 12, 2002:

Generally I can get along with virtually anyone, however, by mid July, my then-roomate's behaviour had become so mentally unbalanced (mostly along such "religious" lines as the deeply disturbed site The Cutting Edge, which is so narrow and intolerant that it may as well have been co-written by that creepy former roommate), that I found a new roommate who shares many human aspects the former one lacks (such as… being friendly, pleasant, and he can smile and laugh.
At any rate, the new domicile is in Hollywood itself, and on this above date, I used a movie pass I had finally not only to see Red Dragon, but to see it at Grauman's Mann Chinese Theatre, the feature having recently opened a month earlier than originally thought.

I was very impressed with Red Dragon; I really should see Manhunter again for the distinctions, but I remembered a lot from Manhunter to know what was coming up. While most people forget British actor Brian Cox was the first actor to play Hannial Lecter in Manhunter, Red Dragon had better production values (Lecter's cell in Manhunter was a sterile white and resembled a doctor's small reception area, and they really didn't focus on Lecter's own insanity).

As with the recent Stealing Harvard, in which my substantial sequence as Mr. Leon was also omitted, the day-time establishing shot or such on which we worked in early January was not used. There is a super-quick exterior static shot of Chromolux, which looks like some second or third unit hastily filmed a still photograph: no people about at all. The night rain sequence is there but also very brief, so no one working it would probably recognize themselves (my not being placed in the sequence notwithstanding).

The omission did not subtract from it being a very well made suspence thriller.

It was also way cool to see a third (and awesome) trailer for The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers.

spotlight More as it progresses…
Screenings, DVD/VHS availability, et al…

Eventual Red Dragon web site

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