These are the things you try not to write about. Especially due to the fake-it-til-you-make-it problem I discussed in my last blog. But what can I say? I'm a glutton for punishment. Besides, it's good to share your embarrassing stories too 'cause we all have 'em. Here goes.
Earlier this week I had a commercial shoot for a major hospital that is about to open a brand new wing donated by the hospital's physicians. Casting was by the same casting director for HBO's The Wire, and based on the pay rate and the audition, I assumed that even though the role would not have lines, it would involve a significant close up and require good acting skills. When I got to set, I found out different.
My role had more or less been reduced to background work. I was to push a patient in a wheelchair across in the mid-background while the principal actor playing a hospital doc talked to camera. Yep, I was an extra. Not even a featured extra.
I'm certainly not above doing background/extra work. I've met some great people doing it and it's a good way to make some money when things are slow. But when you get all psyched up that you got cast from a process that was certainly competitive and by a casting director with a phenomenal reputation, it's a somewhat rude awakening to find out that your big performance entails pushing a patient in a wheelchair across the lobby too far from camera to even be in focus.
I've had several actor friends have the opposite experience when they got to set. They find out they've been upgraded from a featured extra to a speaking role, or from a minor speaking role to a more prominent one.
Why couldn't that happen?
I'm really only faux complaining though. I got paid well for the spot, had a great time, and it was a short shoot (only about 4 hours). And, after all, my job is to make the product the best it can be and if that means walking across the background, then that's what it means. The guy front and center to camera is there for a reason. Sometimes it's me, sometimes it's not. I'm just happy to be working.
It is kinda funny to think about though and makes for a good self-deprecating story.
So what's your self-deprecating story? What on-set changes have kept your ego in check? Or, share your upgrades!
(photo courtesy of Keith Wood)
-- Gabriel Voss