Earlier this week I worked on a scene for a fantastically frightening feature film that will be released in April of next year. It has an incredible cast of stars and a very thrilling, thought-provoking plot. But, for now, that’s all I can say. Sadly, I had to swear on a stack of scripts that I wouldn’t divulge any particulars about the project. Not a morsel. Nada. But, I do need to tell you one thing. I was picked to be placed in a very prominent position in front of the “not-to-be-named” principal star in the scene. Well, I was Johnny on the spot and got into my new location on-set. Let’s just suffice it to say that this amazing actor reaches into the inner Deppths of every character he plays. But, like I said, I need to shut my yap. Yuppers, you can’t get another word out of “mums the word” me.
Some of you have asked what a typical day is like for a Background Actor. Well, it’s a lot about waiting. Waiting for wardrobe. Waiting for cameras to be repositioned between takes. Waiting for the director and crew to finish a pow-wow after each shooting sequence. Fortunately, the production crew always puts together something called Base Camp, where Background Actors can go to relax and always find a full feast of food and beverages. Sometimes BA is inside a sound stage. Or perhaps in a parking lot when on-location. On one more memorable day in downtown LA, BA was located in a particularly perplexing place. We were told to walk two blocks south. Take a left. Then enter the first building on the left-hand side of the street. The older, rather seen-better-days brick building needed a full facelift. It’s façade had not a single window, only a door brightly painted in Fire Engine Red and something about “girls” written over it. I thought it was odd that in this day and age, there were still remnants of separate entrances for men and women. I know she’s getting to be in ear-shot of eighty, but really, where is Gloria Steinem when you notably need her? Upon entering the room, two things hit me square in the face. First the smell of smoke. Between the Fire Engine Red door and the smell of smoke, I very smartly summized that the friendly folks at the local fire department must have offered their firehall to be our Base Camp. How nice was that! I continued to look around the place. Immediately, my eyes were attracted to the four shiny chrome poles in the center of the room. How great that our city’s firefighters were equipped with not one, but four quick exits to fight flames. It was assuring that our tax dollars are indeed at work. I then went through the lavish lunch buffet line and found a spot to sit down in one of the Fire Engine Red vinyl booths that circled themselves around the firepoles – a fabulous floor plan that allows our fearless flame-fighters to relax and share stories of battling blazes. I finished my lunch, and as I headed toward the door I can’t tell you how many tightly folded dollar bills I found here and there on the floor (especially next to the firepoles). One of those dedicated firefighters must have been in a horrendous hurry and in his haste hadn’t realized he had lost probably a full week’s wages. I got down on the floor, gathered them up and found a waitress to take them to safe-keeping. Poor girl. She had her hands so full of dishes, she blushed a bit and awkwardly asked me to put the bills into her bosom-filled bra. To not embarrass her, I did so as discreetly and decently as possible, hit the door, and fled back to set for the next scene. All the way, I couldn’t stop thinking of those generous firefighters who shared their building for our Base Camp. As a donation, I’ll have to send them a check . . . call me crazy, but something keeps telling me it should be dollar bills instead.