Monday, May 07, 2007

Fit to be uniformed

Last Friday night I worked a relatively low-budget feature centering on gang warfare in LosAngeles. But, I wasn't a gang-banger: I was a cop. And after you get cast as a cop after, say, a dozen times or so, you get used to all the paraphernalia: ill-fitting (meaning tight) uniforms, utility belts that leave bruises on your hips, and long waits at the prop truck to get fitted out, or de-proped.

On gigs with larger budgets, the wardrobe rack is usually chock-full of different sized uniforms in case someone can't work their way into their slacks. But on this shoot, it was "one uniform" per cop, and our sizes had been provided to wardrobe by the casting director.

Still, that didn't matter too much. I got stuck in the back of the line, and by the time was given my costume, someone else had come running back from the changing truck whining about his pants not fitting properly. (Actually, cop pants always fit very tight, so if you're even close to an inch off your measurements on file, it ain't gonna happen.) Consequently, they had given my size away to him.

So wardrobe said, "I have one pair which is a few inches too tight for you, and one which is a few inches too wide." Guess which one I could actually fit in? It was all I could do to keep the damn things from falling down all night, after I had clipped on a fully-loaded utility belt with a few stays. On top of that, they had a shirt with a neck size a half-inch smaller than mine, so I had a ill-fitting tight shirt, plus a pair of draggy cop pants.

How did they hide this uniform faux pas? They opted to make me wear a jacket.

So if you've ever wondered why some of those cops running around on screen look a bit "less than professional," as wardrobe.

Next time I'll answer the question I get asked repeatedly, "What do you do in holding for all those hours?"

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Tales from a strange business

A couple weeks ago I was on set and chatting with a fellow backgrounder about the business. He stated that when friends ask him, "What is it that you do? Exactly?" he has difficulty answering, because many times the nature of the job changes from day to day, and set to set.

This is just what happened to a friend last week. He worked an eight-hour gig and was wrapped. He drove home only to realize that he had left his hat back at the shoot location (it was a Western-themed production). So, after changing he drove back and luckily found his hat.

But then an AD saw him and asked if he could "stay on" for a bit. he thought they might need more BG bodies in the scene. Even though my friend wasn't dressed for the part, he agreed, and was rushed to wardrobe to be refitted and hustled back to holding, where he waited, on the clock, for an additional five hours of overtime, including the time he had spent driving back home.

And he was never used.

Recently I was photo-picked for a featured bit and booked for an interview. Usually these involve the director looking at two or three BG'ers and then making a Caesar-like thumbs-up or thumbs-down decision about who would look best in the shot.

And so I thought that would be par for this interview.

That is, until I showed up and a script was thrust into my hands with some throw-away lines and I was given a few minutes to compose myself for a cold-read audition on camera.

Nice. Basically, it was really more of an audition (i.e., SAG Theatrical Contrac) versus an interview (i.e., SAG Background Contract).

Haven't heard back from them yet, but I appreciate the experience.