Tuesday, August 11, 2009

It's been a while....

Since I last blogged here. I've been so busy with my other jobs, I haven't had time to work on any shows. But yesterday I had a great time on the set of the new show Copper.(note: renamed "Rookie Blue")   In a news release it is described as "a character-driven workplace drama about five rookie cops plunged into the high stakes world of big city policing." The good news is it was picked up by ABC tv.

We shot outdoor scenes on a dead end street near Bloor St and Parliament. Right in front of a subway entrance and a tunnel to the Rosedale Valley Ravine. It was pretty hot and steamy in the morning, but there was shade from the trees and there was plenty of water, slushies and freezies.

I think this time I may even get to be a blur on screen, since myself and my other passers by got to move aside for the ner do well running from the cops, in the tunnel scene, and to witness the take down. That was interesting to see how they filmed the stunt men and then later the close up of the stars.
It was a lot of fun, and the crew was so nice to us, and gave us great direction and thanks.
We got to walk by in lots of different scenes so it will be interesting to see what actually ends up aired. ( Oh ya, even with slow mo and the pvr I couldn't see myself at all in the Flashpoint episode from April. oh well,)
Since there were only a few of us, we were invited to join the cast/crew for a great lunch and wrapped around 7pm.
I also enjoyed meeting some really nice people from Bcast Agency too.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Flashpoint Episode this Friday!

Get your PVR ready! The Flashpoint episode I worked in is being broadcast this Friday.
It remains to be seen whether or not my scene will be shown?
stay tuned....

Saturday, March 21, 2009


Monday's shoot was quite different from working on Chloe. (I must say that I was very sad to hear that Liam Neeson's wife Natasha Richardson had passed away after a freak accident during a ski lesson in Quebec. What makes it particularly sad is that it is preventable. I hope out of this sad situation that people are now aware that head injuries can seem so minor and yet, if not checked out can be deadly.)
Back to Monday:
I arrived up in Unionville, a small town north of the city, but really now almost a suburb of Toronto. I made my way to a fantastic brand new sports centric high school for a scene. This school made my old high school look like it was from another century. It had a fitness room on the 3rd floor, which was all windows and with the latest sports equipment, a rugby field, a soccer field, a football field gyms, tennis and probably a pool etc.
Just amazing.
Holding was in the cafeteria which also had a huge wall of windows on the 3rd floor.
I checked in and then waited for the wardrobe woman to check me out. This time I took my little suitcase and had on a 'soccer mom' type outfit. However she opted for the 'business mom' look and I put this on. Beside me were two young ladies in their teens. She told one girl that her clothing was too edgy and they wanted a preppy look. The girl then started changing right there in the middle of everyone! That was pretty funny. The other major difference in the extras on this show is that half of them are cops, and they really look like cops, big, full uniform, including mock guns which they received on set. It was quite important that they look real, and had their hems done to regulation too. It was a bit intimidating and at times I had to keep reminding myself that feeling like I had just got a ticket was not real. The fellow next to me had to have his haircut to regulation but other than that, not much happened. A bunch of the cops were watching movies on a laptop while waiting.

The kids were there since 6 am and doing multiple scenes. I won't reveal the plot, but the kids were leaving the school and running to their parents after an incident at school. We were the parents and the press.
Around noon they started preparing the craft service. This time everyone was invited to eat a great buffet. Two kinds of Lasagne, Chicken, Salad, rice and beans, potatoes and some dessert bars. We spent the rest of the afternoon chatting reading etc. Then around 4 we went outside to shoot the scene. There was alot of preparation of the police cars, the students, and where we should stand etc.
The scene was shot from 4 directions, and each time at least 5 takes, including moving an ambulance and loading it.
I got to choose my kid, and picked a nice Chinese boy; he decided I was his aunt.
It was pretty cool by then the sun was going down so we had a fake sun - a huge light to be able to finish the scenes. We ran to meet "our kid" and that was pretty much it.
In between takes, we huddled near the director's tent, and watched all the goings on,including a break dance by one of the stars who was pretty funny, (the costume woman got upset with him for messing up his SWAT gear).
At 7:30 we were wrapped. Signed out and headed home. During all the waiting time I worked on my Tai Chi presentation so that was good. I'm thinking about taking an ipod next time, but I had some nice conversations with interesting folks.
Stay tuned for next time....

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Preparing for Shooting

One thing a background player needs to have is wardrobe. No matter what the scene we are responsible to bring the required wardrobe to the shoot. Usually this means 2 or 3 complete changes. Sometimes because we are in more than one scene or sometimes because they want some variety in the background players.
Because when you are in the background, you want to stay just that; background. Usually that means no brights (loud colours),no stripes (makes a blurry image)and no identifiable logos (copyright infringement).
Tomorrow I'm set to work on the TV series Flashpoint. I learned last time to bring a small suitcase with wheels from a veteran extra. This will make taking my wardrobe and accessories a lot easier. It will also give me a place to put my cooled protein shakes and sandwich.
I'm excited. More tomorrow on the shoot!

Saturday, March 14, 2009


I got an email today from my agent Sherri! Monday I'll be working on the set of Flashpoint! Stay tuned for more!

Friday, March 13, 2009

First Paycheck

Today I received my first paycheck from my film work. It wasn't a huge amount of money yet it felt pretty satisfying just the same. Now I need another job to pay for the coat I purchased.... well I needed a formal coat in any case. I hate shopping, but I found a Hilary Radley Black Wool coat in my size and on sale!
I think I did very well, it was regularly $600 and I paid $189 for it.
So bring it on! I have the wardrobe now, at least for this weather!

Friday, March 6, 2009

My Birthday

So, today is my birthday, and if I was considerably younger (30)... I could have been in a scene tomorrow for Flashpoint, but, I will have to wait for a more mature call.

It was a great day, though. I shot photos at a press conference in Markham, shot photos for a website I am designing and had a nice walk with my grandson Ben and his mom Laura,in the most beautiful springy weather. Then the love of my life took me out for dinner and surprised me with a dessert with a candle and singing servers.

In the past I would not have enjoyed this, in fact when I was younger, I climbed under the table to avoid such a display, but now...well it was all rather heartwarming and the end to a beautiful day.

I may not have a scene in a movie this week, but my own life story movie, is rich, wonderful and so sweet, just like the cheesecake with a red candle and strawberries on top.

Friday, February 27, 2009

First Day on the Set

Hey, thanks for coming. I guess if you are here, you are interested in what it's like to work as an extra in films and tv.
I started this blog today to report on my newest career, working in film.
It won't all be riveting, but here and there, you might find something new.

So today was my first full day as an extra or as known in 'the lingo'- 'background'.
See already I'm learning the new terminology. Thanks to my super agent Sherri, I had my first paid gig. If you are interested in working in films, tv and commercials, contact Sherri at BCast Agency

The first thing that happens is your agent contacts you about a film or tv show being filmed. Last year because of the economy, the industry has been pretty slow here in Hollywood North aka Toronto, Canada. But things are slowly improving, and hopefully like the rest of the world economic times will start to recover. For a background player wardrobe is key because no film wants to clothe 200 people for a quick scene. Today we were upscale concert goers, so that meant wearing something dressy and accessorize.

You needed to bring 2 complete outfits, in case they didn't like one, or in the case of our shoot, we needed to look different for another scene.
But I digress.
So I showed up at the 'holding' which is basically a word for a big room with chairs, tables, craft service, makeup and hairstyling stations and registration. Today the holding was in a beautiful church which was very peaceful and comfortable, which is key.
I signed in with my agency and filled out some forms for the studio and the tax dept.
Then we were to line up to see the wardrobe person.

Dressed in outfit #1 she warmly gave us the once over and suggestions and asked to see the other outfit for change 2.
I got the OK, (whew I was so nervous about this) and she said she already had too many people wearing my second outfit which was velvet, so I only had to drape a scarf over my shoulder to create the second outfit. That was good.

So now we waited. Time for me to tell you about the film. Atom Egoyan's new film working title, is Chloe starring Julianne Moore, Liam Neeson and Amanda Seyfried.
In the film, Julianne Moore thinks her husband (Liam Neeson) has been unfaithful. To figure this out, she employs a female escort (Amanda Seyfried) to try and make him stray. This has very negative effects on her family.

Next we are called for Makeup and Hair inspection. Yes even background people need to look good! Another long lineup I chatted with fellow extras, and just enjoyed the hubub of the scene. Then it was my turn. We were supposed to apply our normal base and makeup at home.
I sat in the makeup chair, it was a tall director style chair in front of a mirrored vanity with piles of makeup. This was really fun and unexpected. A really pleasant makeup person, I think her name was Cheryl, looked at me and then asked the woman who was directing the makeup artists what I needed. She told her to 'spice me up' which I guess is makeup talk for not enough colour. So we exchanged pleasantries as she applied a bit more blush and eye shadow, filled in my eyebrows and that's it!
I passed the inspection of the hair stylist ( luckily I needed a haircut and had done that the day before) Others were not so lucky and actually had their hair done! right there on the set. Hairspray was everywhere.

The next step was to wait, did I mention wait? But I didn't mind at all, I met some nice people, many retirees and some young people wanting to get into the industry. At other times I just sat in the church meditating and relaxing.... but still very excited and expectant. Or rather, not really knowing what to expect.

You hear about the craft services for the actors and crew. I always thought it sounded so good - like catered buffets or something. Well, if you are a member of ACTRA, the union, you get set meals. In fact they are legally obliged to offer the members food at certain times of the day. We had cookies and instant coffee and for dinner our subs were, well not subs. The PA (production assistant)kept saying don't forget to get your subs. And I'm thinking, okay , a sub would be nice. But I found out from a veteran extra, that 'subs' means subsistence. So dinner was a hot dog. The only drinks were water and instant coffee. But I didn't really care, I wasn't there for the food. Still it was good to know, and next time I will definitely bring something for myself. The ACTRA subs were somewhat more substantial,they had a granola with raisins and brown sugar for breakfast/lunch and had oranges and apples available. For dinner they had something that resembled Chili.

An announcement was made, 15 minutes to move to the set! Very exciting. Dashes to the washroom, and last minute lipstick applied we were ready.
Interestingly, as much as our appearance was crucial, we arrived on the set, took our seats in the concert hall, and were given no instructions other than to sit quietly.
We sat through 2 rehersals. An accomplished orchestra of young adults played a very exciting piece, and about 12 feet away from us, the action was taking place.
Seated in the third row from the back was uh, no one I recognized. Then just before we were to shoot a take, in walked the three principal stars, and a young male actor (I'm sorry I didn't recognize him) and took the place of the 'stand ins'. Stand ins as the name implies just step in for the actors so they don't have to waste energy waiting around for all the technical stuff to be done. They are usually chosen for their size and looking like the actors.
You could hear the techs fussing all around with the sound and lighting and finally, the director came in and chatted briefly with the stars, and the assistant director about the scene.

The orchestra tuned and people were softly chatting, and then another production assistant asked for quiet on the set.

A last minute check by the costume and makeup on the crowd, and a few seat changes here and there, we were ready to shoot. Digital photos were taken of the scene for continuity and placement if future shots were necessary.

Then we heard 'rolling', the scene number and take number and ACTION!

This was repeated 4 or 5 times, and after the 'Cut' was called, we all clapped for the orchestra.
The main violinist was playing standing in the centre of the orchestra, conductor style and was really amazing and funny.

Then the camera angle was changed and most of us, except for the people surrounding the actors, were dismissed back to holding. More waiting and then an announcement was made that for the outside scene of people entering the concert hall, they would not need most of us. A list of names was read out, and everyone else was finished.
That was it. We handed in our vouchers for our pay to be processed, and the day was done.

It was a fun day and I was tired, yet very exhilarated from the experience.
I can't wait till next time...
Special thanks to Sherri who popped in for the registration, and to say hi and help me fill out my forms....in my excitement I kinda forgot my reading glasses. :)Stay tuned and I will add a photo of me getting my makeup done, when I get the pic emailed to me....