Of course my scheduled background work was while there was a big storm in town. The forecast was cold and wet. Dag!! I hate being cold and/or uncomfortable if I can help it. At least I'm getting paid AND the earnings go toward my SAG insurance.....gotta keep that coverage.
So I show up on-set in the Media Center Mall area of Burbank. Okay, the irony in my life really needs to stop because.......well just because......long story.
I gotta tell ya, it was interesting to show up as a background player. I'm much more used to being part of "the cast" and having a trailer. I checked in and took a seat outside under the canopy. Fortunately, it was a pretty small call, only about 10 background total. It was cool, I don't have a big ego or anything like that so I was chillin'.....literally, LOL!.
Sitting under the open-air canopy I realized immediately that one of two things was going to happen. Either this production worker, Mike, was going to be able to light the huge propane heater that sat in front of me OR all 10 of us were going to freeze our asses off. Afterall, it's only 8:30pm and they said we won't finish until daybreak. Needless to say, I was hoping for the former. After a few minutes it wasn't looking good, he couldn't get it to fire up. Oh nooo!
He put in a call to PA "Burke". A moment later, "Burke" made a guest appearance and sparked it right up. Thank God for Burke! That propane heater really put out some serious freakin' heat. We were almost as good as being inside.
Usually, in this business the name of the game is "hurry up and wait". I was prepared, I had my big "East Coast coat", 3 pairs on thermal underwear, gloves, several magazines, this new life altering book I've been reading for a couple of weeks and of course my trusty PDA.
Believe it or not after only about 15 minutes they came to get me and 3 others. Two of the others, actually a husband and wife team, seemed to know quite a bit about the business of SAG background work. While we walked to set they explained a bit of the "Background language" to me and the other first timer. They also told me it was double pay since it was Saturday, plus a night premium and an extra fee for the use of my car! Okay, cool. I knew when I've worked as a principal on a Saturday it was double pay, but I wasn't aware it was the same for background.
So we get to set and I see that it's a "VW Jetta" we are working with. I'm thinking to myself "not only is this a VW spot, but why a Jetta? Of all of the cars out there why a Jetta?" Don't get me wrong it's a beautiful car; I'd love to have it. Matter of fact, my first car was a VW Super Beatle back in the day. I know this seems weird for me to trip about this..........but it's a long story. Trust me, long and depressing, LOL!.
Immediately, I'm instructed to get in the drivers seat. After a moment or two I figure out that I am actually doing stand-in work. I've never been a stand-in before, actually I'm more used to having a stand-in. I guess that puts me one step closer to being able to say "I've done it all" LOL!
After 20 minutes of stand-in work sitting in the driver's seat. I sat in my car for about 3 hours and read, wrote and slept. Then dinner came at like 1 am and more sleep. After a while the 2nd AD came to get me to stand in again. I stood in for about 1 minute and went back to my car to read, sleep and write. At 5 am some of us were finished, but they needed 6 drivers. I volunteered to stay; we were already into overtime so it was good for the bottom line. I spent almost an hour waiting in my car for them to get the shot ready and then worked for about 7 minutes. After that @ 6am it was a wrap!
What a pleasant experience; 10 hours of sleeping, reading, eating and writing.......oh and a little bit of work. Everybody I met was very nice and personable, cast and crew. I was prepared for the worst, but it ended up being a very positive experience plus it didn't rain AND double $$$$.