Thursday, September 18, 2014

A Day in the Life of a Background Actor

If you are either in my Facebook "circle" or are "following" me on Twitter (@Showbiz_emelle), then you saw THIS yesterday.  Which means, if you're reading this "today," then you know that I got booked for some on-set work today, and I must already be home to post about it.

I'm not permitted to post photos or name the production or any of the actors.  I'm probably not permitted to indicate the film or television production studio.  So, I'll fill you in "hypothetically."  Or maybe it's "rhetorical."  If YOU know the difference, then you know it better than I, and I welcome the education you may wish to post in the comments.  Ennyhoo.

I was "on location" today, which means that we were, for all intents and purposes, shooting "in the wild."  When you film on location, there are usually off-duty cops helping you block vehicular traffic, as well as "security" personnel who don't work for the studio, helping you block FOOT traffic, in addition to one or more "locations" managers who have secured all the necessary permits and whatnot to be able to use the location.  If your location involves existing buildings, then the production has to lease the space for a specific period of time, the value of said lease being commensurate with the purpose of the building.  Today, we were in a small shopping center, and we had use of the whole shopping center.  Which meant that all of the businesses were CLOSED until we departed (or until the pre-designated time of day when we should have departed).  One of the businesses in our little shopping center refills large water bottles.

During a take, a "bogey" managed to pull into the parking lot.  This woman could see all the activity, as well as the lack of any vehicle in any "space," and I think she got confused, so she just stopped her white SUV (white is a terrible color for both vehicles and clothing, when it comes to filming) in the driveway.  Right. In. The. Shot.  The "powers that be" persuaded her to pull into a space so that the take could be completed.

  • The locations manager discovered that this Latina who spoke perfect English had some empty water bottles in the back.  He explained to her that all of the businesses were closed.  She didn't want to hear that, so she requested a Spanish-speaking somebody to explain it.  
  • The Latina Security guard did just that.  She still wanted her water.  
  • The Assistant Director and the stand-ins and anyone else with hands free brought over as many bottles of CHILLED drinking water as they could carry (about half a case, all told), to put in her back seat.  Still not happy.
  • The County Sheriff who was helping to block off street traffic came over to help explain it.  A full case of water bottles, not chilled, was carried over and put in the back.  No dice.
  • The STAR of the production came over to see if "fame" could somehow smooth over this rough-edged predicament. Hunh-unh.  Not happenin'.
  • Somehow, someone managed to get this woman to depart the parking lot.  She had at least a case and a half of both room-temp and COLD water - for FREE - in her vehicle, but her giant water bottles would remain empty until the business reopened later that day, and it was those empty bottles that kept her in the lot for as long as she was.
This is "typical" of working in the film industry.  No matter how many people are there to protect the creative forces at work, there's still always the possibility of a bogey slipping through.  Now you know.

Man oh man, do I love my job! :)


  1. That's a great story. Fun in the film industry. I had no idea. :-)

    1. The only thing that would make it better would be if I could name names, like The Fabulous Ms. F. does.

      Somehow, I knew you'd appreciate it, either way.

  2. Fun day at work! I do like this and I wish you could tell us who you are working with etc. But that will wait.

    1. Yeah, it'll probably wait a LONG time (as in, forever), since I watch very little television that I WORK, so I won't know when the episode will air, and unless you happen to see a small shopping center where there's a water-refill business, you're not likely to remember to ask, "Hey, was THAT the show where the lady ruined the shot?"

      But it was fun. And I'm glad you've enjoyed reading it.


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