Tuesday, September 27, 2011
*Note: I have not made a Monday post yet, but I am going to skip it to talk about Tuesday first.
5:30. Alarm goes off. I hit snooze.0.
5:45. I’m up.
6:06. I’m out of the shower and I shave and put whatever goopy junk I use in my hair. I look at myself in the mirror and remember that they told me to not have any goopy junk in my hair when I arrive.
6:08. I’m back in the shower removing goopy junk.
6:30. I’m driving to the studio which is located downtown. My call time is 8 am and I have no idea how long it takes to actually get there. All I know is that the longest it has taken to get anywhere in the city for me is an hour and a half.
7:10. I’ve arrived 50 minutes early, so I recline my seat and take a nap.
7:30. I wake up and there is a girl next to me who has pulled up in her car. Her hair is in hot rollers, indicating she is a female extra on the show.
7:35. After checking with security, I walk to a table in front of some trailers to check in. I’m still a half hour early, so the guy tells me I can get some food. The food is awesome. I had a breakfast burrito and fresh fruit (not just melons either. We’re talking pineapples and strawberries)
8:00. Wardrobe is handing me my costume and I walk up to our dressing room to change.
8:11. I’m dressing into the 1960s with a few other men. They are regular extras. Some of them know each other from working on other shows together. It’s a fascinating subculture. It’s just another day of work for them. Most of them are older than me and are joking about how they remember the fashion from Mad Men in real life.
8:18. I’m dressed, but crap, my pants look like capris, they’re way too short.
8:23. Back at the trailer, wardrobe agrees with me. They take them and I change into my jeans for now and head to hair and makeup.
8:40. I’ve got my pants on and they’re the right length this time.
8:41. I find out that we’re going to be shuttled by van to a location, rather than shooting on set. While we’re waiting one of the older extras offers to take a picture of the girl we’re waiting with, so she can “show her mother and grandmother.” When he’s done, I ask him to do the same thing. He’s seems surprised. Apparently, he only takes pictures of girls. In retaliation, he gets his finger in each shot he takes.
8:44. They load us up. About ten of us in my van looking like we’re straight out of the ’60s. They drop us off at “holding,” a bar around the corner from the shoot. It just so happens to be the bar where I played in a ping pong tournament earlier this summer.
8:53. A we wait, a person comes in to take each of our pictures, so they can determine who they want sitting where. The scene is in a diner. There are booths along the wall, and a walkway, then a counter with a row of stools parallel with the booths.
8:59. They’re calling people together to send them up. I’m not in the first group.
9:04. I’m not in the second group.
9:05. There are four of us that remain. A couple of the old timers are certain that means that we’re not getting in. They don’t seem to mind, they’ll be somewhere else tomorrow.
9:16. Finally, we’re called up. We wait in a row outside the diner. There’s a ton of equipment on the sidewalk as well. Really, extras aren’t much more than equipment. Extras are props, and not much more. It’s just the way it is.
9:33. A PA jumps out and says, “You!” He points in my direction and I follow him in. I’m to occupy the last booth. I’m supposed to be a guy who is waiting for a friend to arrive. This has never happened to me in real life. I’m always the guy that a friend is waiting for.
9:34. It looks great on the inside. They have decorated it with signs from the 60s. I even have a menu with meals for $.95. There is not a thing that indicates it’s not the 1960s in view of the camera. Outside the camera there are all kinds of lights and screens, and equipement, and people, so many people.
9:40. I suppose I can’t say much about the scene. There are two regular characters that are there. A regular walks in and talks to a regular at the counter. That’s about it. There are probably eight lines. It is amazing how much work and stuff goes into that one short scene. There are so many people, and so many equipment, and so many details paid attention to.
9:58. My back is to the camera for the whole scene, I’m probably not very visible. But, I was acting my heart out on the inside. Where is my friend? Why isn’t he here yet? Was he in an accident? Did the Commies get him, like they got Jimmy? I was worried sick. Sure, all you’ll see on TV is my back to the camera, but there was a whole back story.
10:46. They’re done with me for now. I go back to holding.
10:52. Probably the coolest part of the day. I saw what the industry calls “craft services,” otherwise known by what we call “food” in the normal world. It was a whole spread of food. I got taquitos and fruit mostly. Plus, they had these big bottles of Naked Juice, which is what I get at Starbucks all the time. They’re like $3.45 for 12 ounces. Here, I could have as much as I wanted. Also, they had Nutrigrain bars and other packaged items. Was I the guy who put a lot of that crap in my pockets? You are darn right I was. Probably not cool, but I never eat. It was like inviting a raccoon to a Golden Corral.
11:14. I’m talking to another extra. Talking to new people might be my favorite thing about all of these adventures. This guy lives in LA half the year and does background work when he wants to. The rest of the year he is a captain of a private yacht in Seattle. Apparently, he also lives on the yacht and just takes the rich owners out when they want him to.
11:39. The old timers are predicting that the shoot is probably done.
11:53. The PA comes down to grab us again. We head up to take our spots. They’re still shooting the same scene, this time from another angle.
12:01. They supply with a friend who has arrived. The Commies had not gotten to him. Phew.
12:06. They change their mind with us. The two guys they had put standing in the doorway were too short. They switched us.
12:14. They decide we should be smoking. We have the following conversation with the guy.
Guy: Either of you guys smoke?
Guy: Great, I’ve got the two coolest guys in Hollywood.
12:16. He lights our cigarettes, which are just herbal cigarettes, so I don’t choke to death. I definitely felt like I’ve made it because, not only am I on Mad Men, I’m also smoking in a scene while holding a briefcase.
12:22. They just keep shooting the same scene over and over. So, next time when you’re watching any show at home, think about how much time they put into just that one scene. This is probably true of even crappy shows too. Also, whenever you’re watching background actors, know that when you see their mouths moving that they aren’t actually talking, they’re mouthing the whole thing. I was mouthing about plotting a murder.
1:04. I’m back in holding thinking about what packaged food to take with me.
1:13. We’re back in the dressing room changing back to this decade.
1:15. My friend in the scene and I are talking. It turns out that he works as a character at Disneyland. He often plays Goofy and Captain America. How cool is that?
1:16. I turn my wardrobe in. It turns out I got paid an extra $8.00 because I was smoking. Bizarro world.
1:34. I’m back to this decade, so I decide to stay downtown and hang out. I went to a French coffee shop run by an Asian couple, and I fell asleep in a park. I’m a Mad Man.