Monday, January 30, 2006

Dork Streets

Jan. 29, 2006

I got called yesterday afternoon to see if I would work on a movie called DARK STREETS this morning. I thought there was a fifty percent chance it was a horror movie, judging by the title, so I agreed. Actually, I'm not in a financial position to turn down work, so even if it was called BRIGHT STREETS OF SODOM, I would've taken the job. Beggars can only be choosers if they're in the union.

Well, it was a 1930's period piece and we shot in a downtown nightclub called the Tower only three or four doors down from the Orpheum where I worked on Friday. I wore the same damn suit I wore on Monday and Tuesday ("Criminal Minds"), Thursday (CHRONICLES), and Friday (SPIDER-MAN). Once again, there was smoking on the set, so that, combined with my sweat, has to make the suit smell like a damp gym sock filled with string cheese. It's my only suit, though. What can I do?

Compared to SPIDER-MAN, of course this was a low-budget shoot, but there were still forty extras, a dozen dancers, Bijou Phillips, and enough of a crew that there were always at least five people sitting around doing nothing. That's something I've never understood, but is all part of show business, I suppose.

The crew was very cool, though, with a lot of young guys with entertaining t-shirts (one said "Department of Redundancy Department," which got less funny as the night progressed, and another said "I AM NOT A GEEK. I am a Level 12 Paladin."), and wacky hair.

Quite the opposite of CHRONICLES, where they told me not to put anything in my hair and brush it out so it looked somewhat mop-like, they greased my hair down with some waxy pomade, and I was quite taken with the effect. They bent my shirt collars up and gave me a cravat (is that the word?).* We were just nightclub patrons, enjoying a performance, and they even gave me a cool walking stick with a round brass head. It wasn't hard work either (I've been lucky this week), but it sure was a long day--longer even than the twelve hour days I had on Thursday and Friday.

I don't want to call Bijou Phillips a diva, but she does have to replace Tim Allen as the most difficult star I've seen on a set. When I first heard her shouting in her sqeaky, unnaturally babylike voice, I thought, "This has to be the most demanding child actor I've ever heard of. Is that Dakota Fanning down there?"

I don't have time to go into it right now (it's almost three in the morning, just getting home from the shoot), but I do want to share this:

Right before Bijou shouted, "I hate every one of you!" a couple extras and I were chatting our time away, introducing ourselves, etc. One of the guys said his name was Eric, and a lady asked if he spelled it with a C or a K at the end. He said with a C, and always found the K spelling to be strange. He then told us he once met an Eric who spelled his name with a Q. "Why would you do that to your kid?" the lady asked. "Right," said I, "It's almost like naming your child Bijou or something." "Exactly," the lady said, "What the hell does Bijou mean anyway?" "Oh, it's French for 'mov--'" I started to say, but another girl interrupted me. Deadly serious, she said, "It's French for 'bitch.'"

Jan. 30, 2006

Today was better. True, we went until three instead of two, but we started hours later. Either due to luck or my own physical deformities, I hardly worked at all tonight, and nearly finished my book. When I did work, it was more of the same nightclub stuff as yesterday.

One of the Thirties ladies I was partnered with mentioned that a male friend of hers had also worked SPIDER-MAN on Friday, and that it was an awful experience. I was curious, having so enjoyed myself, and asked what was awful about it. She said he told her they had to sit for hours, listening to a sappy, lovey-dovey song and watching Kirsten Dunst make doe eyes at Tobey Maguire. I don't know if I was out of line, but I suggested her friend had a little dick. She laughed, but did not disagree.

I don't know if I've ever detailed the daily life of an extra (and I won't do it here if I haven't), but after one has gotten their pay voucher (and had their name crossed off the list), the first place we go is holding. After that, it's off to Wardrobe, then Hair & Makeup (sometimes different departments, usually the same). All Wardrobe gave me both days was a tie (the same one), and makeup did paint me lightly. As I said yesterday, on CHRONICLES, they told me in December not to cut my hair or my sideburns, so when I finished with that this weekend, I quickly ran to the barber and had myself sheared. Today, though, I was taken to task for cutting my hair off by the Hair lady (who turned out to be the same woman who gave me my hair command for CHRONICLES). She told me I should always leave enough hair so the departments could do stuff to it (whether brush it out or comb it down or trim it or add to it), and that I now had "the haircut of a five year old boy." For some reason it bothered me.** I had felt good about my hair for one whole day.

Gabriel Mann is one of the stars of the film, playing the nightclub owner, and he'd gotten his sister a role (which mostly consisted of standing around in a cocktail dress). The other star, Elias Koteas (who's in the upcoming SKINWALKERS, the werewolf movie Stan Winston was so excited about), was in some kind of strange leather armour yesterday (mayhaps the film is not set in 1939 after all). Both of them were friendly guys, especially Mann, who I guess I've seen in a couple of flicks and didn't know it.

The holding they kept us in was the balcony of the theatre. It was pitch black, and it was uncomfortable, so while I mostly slept and marked up an old screenplay yesterday, today I listened to the radio and crept to the (lighted) stairs to read my book. It was still semi-difficult to see, and I would wake up the next morning with an annoying crink in my back. But I'm trying not to complain.

Music-wise, it was a slow, soulful, sad number tonight . . . what I believe is commonly known as a torchsong. And it was not sung by Phillips. We were told to be transfixed by the music, and after several hours, I wondered if maybe we looked zombified rather than captivated.

Regardless, that is now over. I suppose I should go to bed.

Rish Bijou Outfield

*The clothing was fine, but several of the girls had to have their tattoos painted over. Guess there weren't a lot of whoremarks in the 1930s.

**Maybe it's because, if you've ever seen me naked, you know I have a lot in common with a five year old boy.


huge ackman said...

yes, bijou is not the greatest lady,
i remember her appearing on an aussie tv show,
a light, bubbly comedy show..
she was mopey,
answered every question dead serious..
everyone on the show had to sort of entertain her
as well as the audience.

Anonymous said...

Hi Rish: I was on that same shoot and remember being told when I was there about the "bitch" remark re: Ms. Phillips. I was the rehead that the costumer didn't l like because I was too buxom for the time period. (Didn't matter - I wore my own stuff anyway!) The third day, she asked me to leave the set because I didn't have the look she wanted. Thank God for the AD's - Josh, Ron and Pablo - they went to bat for me and I completed my 3rd day. I even got SAG voucher! This was not the worst set I've been on, honestly. But this town is full of Bijou types. I also produce low-budget films and it helps me to see who never to cast in something if mine! I would however, like your take on these extra "calling services." If you have to cancel for a very good reason, they almost pour lye on your grave!!!!

Rish Outfield said...

I think I remember you, anonymous, unless there was more than one redhead on set. Congratulations on getting a SAG voucher. I'm starting to get impatient about mine (though I know there are some folks without any that have been at this longer than me).

I worked with Bijou Phillips again (and our A.D. Josh) this week, and she was a little snot once again. Who, may I ask, was worse that you worked with?

So far, except for one minor incident, I've had no complaints about my calling service, Extras Management. It's said that once you've joined the union, they're not the ones to go with, though.