Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Called Up for a Shoot

I'm hyped!

I've been called up to work as an extra on a new movie that's being shot in the city. This is my work other than writing, and since I haven't worked since last summer, I have to haul out my work bag and ensure all my clothes are clean and packed. And not just any clothes:
- solid colors (no prints or patterns)
- tops can't be black, white, red or yellow
- no logos or other identifiable markings including footwear

Then of course, it's the 3rd week of March. I need to be prepared for all types of weather. Oh, I sure hope we're not doing a summer scene. Brrr.

Tomorrow night (Wed) I'll receive a phone call and someone will tell me:
- my call time (start time)
- the location (I believe this one's in Regina)
- the season (I wore a parka in hot Aug weather once)
- the 3 changes of clothing minimum I'm expected to bring (business clothes, casual, jammies or swimwear) :)

Now this sounds like fun and sometimes it is, but usually, it's 3 hrs of sitting around waiting and then 20 mins on set. Still, I get paid from my call time until I'm done.

Last summer, I had to be in Rouleau, SK for a 0700 call time on a Corner Gas shoot which meant leaving home at 0430 which meant getting up at 0330 am. That's real early to someone who writes until 2 or 3 in the morning.

Money-wise, this is great. But, it's a full day out of my writing schedule.

However, considering that my acting paid for me to attend the 2008 ACFW conference in Minnesota, I think I'd better go check my clothes and quit whining.

Oh - and look for a book. Lots of time to read while I'm waiting to strut my stuff...

Have you ever worked on a movie or TV set? Which one? What was the weather like? Did you enjoy it?


  1. I have no experience to draw on or report about. I have an aunt who did a lot of 'little theatre' in her day, but I never caught the bug.

    So, Anita, I have nothing but questions for you. How does one get involved in being an extra, or walk-on, or bit-part actor, if those terms apply to what you do? I do know someone else who gets bits in Corner Gas and Little Mosque, so I suppose it helps to be in or close to Regina.

    Have you been doing this for a long time? And how did you get started? Sounds quite exciting just to be on a set!

  2. Morning, Hazel. Yes, it helps to live near Regina. In the city would be better since we needed 2.5 hrs travel time to get from home to Rouleau where many of the Corner Gas scenes were shot.

    Little Mosque on the Prairie is shot in Indian Head which is only 30 mins from home so that's nice. The summer before last I was wearing a parka and mitts during a hot Sep harvest day while filming a Little Mosque Christmas segment. That was uncomfortable.

    The kids and I started working as extras about 4-5 yrs ago when we all needed extra money. There's not many jobs around for kids under age 16. Also, they didn't need experience for this. They also learn quick that if they want to get called back, they'll pay attention and do whatever is asked of them.

    I think the biggest thing for the kids was to see the craft table laden with snack food and not be able to indulge because it was for the crew and cast. The extras have a little craft table to the side with the barest minimum of drinks and maybe a jar of candies or pretzels. Humbling for us adults and a great learning experience for the kids.

    It involves a lot of sitting around being quiet in poor chairs that leave my back aching the next day. You don't get to walk around whenever you want and you have to ask permission to use the facilities or get a drink since the wrangler needs to know where you are at all times.

    Yes, there are some fun times and some of the actors come over to meet us but if we pass someone we recognize, we aren't allowed to talk to them, take their pic or ask their autograph because we're all there as professionals doing a job.

    About 50% of the regular extras I work with are seniors. And, I've even brought my 80 yo mil on a couple jobs when they needed extra extras. :)

    Some movies are shot in Saskatoon, as well so if you are interested, you could check the local agencies and sign up. You never know... you could be our next movie star.

    All in all, I enjoy the work because I get paid while I sit there and read.

    Thanks for visiting, Hazel.

  3. Anita, being an extra sounds like so much fun! Some excellent shows are filmed in Saskatchewan. Corner Gas and Little Mosque are two of my favourites!

  4. Thanks for the visit, Lee. I was just checking and you're one of the newer Harlequin American authors. I'll have to keep my eye out for your books.

    I'm sorry I haven't been keeping up with the HAR blog lately although I should since it's one of my favorite reads and one of my mss is targeted toward the line. I've just been so busy...

  5. Yes, Anita Mae, I am one of the line's newer authors, and the only Canadian "American Romance" author ;)

    It's a wonderful line to write for, and has some amazing authors. Including two Rita finalists, just announced today!

    Wishing you success with your writing and submissions.

  6. Lee, I hadn't realized you were Cdn. Yay! I always felt weird targeting the line because of the name, but it's the one I'm drawn to.

    I'll have to go check the Rita and GH finalists.


  7. i can't say i've ever worked on a "real" movie/tv set, but i did work on three student films that shot during the summer. I was assistant set director on one and on the camera crew for the other two. i much prefer the camera crew because i get to be a part of each shot. long days though... at least 12 to 14 hours. still, a blast.

    i can definitely sympathize with the sitting around a long time before doing 20 minutes of work. i felt for the extras, especially when it was hot and muggy.


  8. Hey Deb, now working as part of the crew would've been fun, too. I can see how you'd rather be behind the camera than in front of it - my eldest daughter was always part of the stage crew of her high school drama productions. She never had aspirations of being on the stage itself.

    It's funny that I'm so comfortable with it because I freeze in front of still cameras and usually refuse to let my photo get taken.

    But being an extra is different somehow - probably because I know that no one really sees us in the background. Well, except other extras! I didn't start watching the background of movies until I started being part of them. LOL

    Thanks for visiting, Deb.


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