Monday, October 30, 2006

Even the lowly get photo doubles....

Last summer, before the series season took off, I was lucky to nab a fitting for a big emmy-winning series, with the promise of a couple workdates when shooting began.

It was only afterwards when I sat down with the key 2nd that I learned they wanted to give me a featured background part (the difference between featured and regular BG roles? If you can recognize yourself on screen, instead of a swoosh in front of the camera, that's kind of featured role).

Nice, but some weeks later I got the call, "Shooting schedule has changed. We'll be in touch."

Eventually they did, some ten weeks later, and when I showed up on set the other guys kept asking, "Hey, where is (Gilan)? And who are you?"

When we got around to filming, it was reshoot and everyone knew where they had been placed the previous week - everyone but me.

And then I learned that I was there to photo double for a fellow backgrounder who couldn't make it that day. Apparently, the two of us look similiar, and surprisingly so from the back of the head.

Consequently, the 1st AD asked me to keep showing the "back of my head" whenever we rolled, which made for some interesting poses (ex: an elevator with everyone looking out, except me, standing with my back to the camera).

Some weeks later, I worked a four camera show, and actually met my mysterious photo double! He had been sick, so couldn't shoot that day, but our heads and hair are close enough for film. He was returning to the other set the next day, so I'm sure that crew had a bunch of laughs about it.

Oh yeah, and when I turned in my wardrobe, they said, "See you soon." Hmm. Ten weeks and used once for somebody else. I think not, and I'm happy to work my other regular shows instead.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Geez, Thank for Your Support....

There's nothing quite like working your tail off on set for 2+ weeks, then finally turning on the laptop only to have a newbie blogger flame you.

I was thinking about putting the Angry Anthropologist on a short-term hiatus when work got busy, but orignally thought against it.

I think it's time to reconsider.

One of the nice things about being a regular on a full-run, or near full-run television series is the constant work and the peculiarity of seeing the same people on set day after day.

That was last week, when we shot a full episode in five days - five days with plenty of OT that kind of burned me out on writing at night. Obviously, this hindered my writing since the vainglorious day of professional background actor last week went something like this:

2 hrs morning LA traffic commute to 20th Century Fox studio
12.5 hrs ave. workday
1 hr lunch
1 hr evening LA traffic commute home
16.5 hrs total

That leaves a whopping 7.5 hours in the day to wash clothes for matching shot the next day, eat something, and actually try to sleep, and in the battle between blogging and sleep/food, the latter wins out.

On top of that, on Saturday I got to sleep at 12:30 AM, only to get up early, and promising myself a hike trekked up Mnt. Pacifico on the backrange of the San Gabriel Mountains (only 12 miles), rushed down to a wine tasting with friends from high school, then watched the World Series on the couch with one eye proped open to ward of sleep, which I did for much of Sunday.

On Monday? Back to the lot for the start of the next episode. And so it goes. Even as I write this I'm off to a location shot downtown, and expect to be back on the regular gig tomorrow.

Last Friday was also noteworthy in that we worked with a chimp, who I suspect was paid more than the SAG background. For those of us in that scene, we had to negotiate these two conflicting cultural frames:

Trainer: "Don't look the chimp in the eyes - it's a threat."

1st AD: "Be sure to react off the chimp - make sure your eyeline is on the chimp at all times."


Next time, a story about meeting a fellow backgrounder who I photo-doubled for.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

My 10,064 ft. Saturday

Sorry for the dearth of posts this month, but I'm burned out from the last two weeks.

First, I worked most of the last two weeks on a tuxedo, fancy ball shoot which entailed both dancing to the same number repeatedly, or sitting for multiple shots pretending to like the person sitting next to you. Long hours, lots of OT, plus the always welcome formal dress pay bump outlined in the SAG Background Contract. (BTW, "formal dress" for men also includes a "white, Palm Beach suit" although I've never heard of a Palm Beach suit casting call.

It's just that the parental units in town took off on a long trip, and asked your truly to help with watering and other domestic chores, less the little green plants die on them. Others, namely my brother, was also asked to assist, but then had a sudden business trip out of state, leaving me to conduct midnight to 1AM watering sessions in my old neighborhood complete in a formal, black tuxedo.

Someone down the block must have been thinking, "Even the burglars are upscale in this part of town."

Then, I got the call last week for a show which I had been offered a featured, regular background role. Nice. Then the CD called and said, "Shooting schedule's changed - I'll let you know." That was more than ten weeks ago. Upon arriving to set, I then learned that I was photo doubling for another backgrounder. The other regulars chimed in unison, "Gee, you look just like [Bob]! You could be brothers!"

Obviously, Bob got the part weeks ago, but no great loss. Starting Monday I'm back on my regular gig, which bodes well for the rest of the shooting season. And for that day? The 1st said, "Be sure not to show your face too much, since you're another guy in this reshoot"

No what about the figure above?

I've been trying to retrace some of the more spectacular hikes in the San Gabriel Wilderness that I did in my youth. Today, with a storm system blowing through the southland, I trekked up Mt. San Antonio, also called Old Baldy to locals. Thirteen strenuous miles, 3,800' elevation gain, but better yet, blustery wind conditions (i.e., 40-50 mph gusts at the summit), with snow! All the way up to 10,064 feet after traversing the Devil's Backbone.

And what was at the summit, apart from a sign - four very cold, yelling Japanese tourists who insisted on having me snap a phone camera image of them, huddled together and beginning to show signs of hypothermia!!!

And I thought I just worked in a weird industry.