Ben Peek (benpeek) wrote,
Ben Peek

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Playing the Circus Freak for a Couple of Hundred, Part Two.

On the film set, the extra is a tool made from flesh.

An extra is positioned much like a camera, put here, put there, meat and bones that can react in a limited away and used by the crew to produce a certain result on the screen. Once the need for the extra is over, he or she is cast aside. Forgotten about. You lack of individuality is best found in the fact that there is no need for you name. It is redundant: a useless addition to the title you will be known by to the film crew, and an addition that they will never ask you for. Why should they? You're an extra. You're flesh for a couple hundred bucks. Stand and bark when asked and be immortalised in film.

This is Miranda. She was in charge of the extras.

I saw her, when she wasn't ordering extras around, smiling and laughing and appearing to be a decent person. Whenever she appeared in front of the extras, however, she was curt and did not ask for names.

The action that best described Miranda's attitude to extras was at lunch, when cast, crew, and extras lined up for food. If someone, incidentally, tells you that there is nice food served at a film set, take a moment out to realise that this means 'okay buffet' and not, actually, anything you might consider good. However, at this buffet, there is plenty of food. There is, indeed, food wastage. But there's an order for who reaches this food first, which is explained simply as everyone before the extras. Which means that if an actor was standing in the line patiently behind an extra, Miranda would come up, grab them, push in front of the first extra in line and dump the person there. It's worth noting that the retired football stars who are in the photo at the end of this post were actually quite apologetic about it when it happened them. It might also be worth noting that this could have been avoided by simply sending lots over at different intervals.

Today was the last day of filming on Footy Legends. If you've just arrived, it's the film that I was picked off the street, rather like a young Audrey Hepburn, to appear in. Except, of course, it wasn't a part, and I wasn't picked for my charisma and beauty. Instead, I was picked to appear like a Western Suburbs Thug. I was actually told today that the extra hiring had three categories: tattoos, beards, and just being odd. My response was, "Anyone who looked like a thug or a freak?" and there was no disagreement. There is (was, depending on when you read this) a wrap party, which was not spoken to the extras about, but which I also know is being held in Balmain Leagues Club at the end of shooting today. In case you don't know the landscape of Sydney very well, Balmain is not in the Western Suburbs of Sydney. I'm sure you're shocked by this fact.

At any rate, the day was about shooting big crowd scenes, and they had placed ads out in the paper to get locals to come in for free. They hired a comedian off The Footy Show who told his jokes in a tone that suggested he'd rather be having bamboo shoots shoved up his cock for fun, and certainly from my point of view, I thought it would be. Of course, maybe he had just been told there would be over a thousand people, but ended up looking at maybe a hundred or so, since most people in St. Mary's and the surrounding suburbs have better things to do that go and be a free extra in a film on their Saturday. A few people did show to get signatures from Famous Sports People, but didn't stick around after. I had the experience of watching one guy arrive with a folder of old League cards to get signed by the retired players, but who refused to go out himself, so he sent his girlfriend. If I learn at a later date that these two have a submissive/dominance thing going on, it'll be the only thing that'll make their actions and relationship appear healthy to me.

Since enough people didn't show to fill the stadium that meant that it would be divided into three parts, and the crowd would fill each section again and again to give the impression of a huge crowd. That meant, however, that there wasn't much for the paid extras to do but to sit around and talk, which is what we did. I arrived there at seven in the morning, and they didn't actually use us until about one thirty or so in the afternoon. Until after lunch, basically. So I chatted. I drank coffee. I cursed the cold and early mornings of the last week that has returned my cold that I'd only just escaped from. Obviously something will need to be done about that. In a total odd twist, I met studebakerhawk's new girlfriend, Carissa, which was wild. She is intelligent and lovely, and all the other extras were impressed by my ability to pick up girls on film sets, even as they called me Paul.

They had, at least, asked my name. That they then forgot it and proceeded to yell out PAUL when I was talking to Carissa, and which is, in fact, studebakerhawk's name, is only a little bit strange when you consider what they thought I was doing.

The attraction of being an extra today would have been meeting legendary, retired Rugby League players. Since I don't actually like League, I only had a vague, culture pattern of knowledge leftover from the games my father watched, and I didn't know more than one or two names. This also meant that I didn't go all schoolgirlish like some of the extras I saw when they first came across the players. Grown men could weep openly and no one would say a word, I assure you. However, with that said, the retired players were all quite nice and willing to stand for photographs and sign autographs which, when not kicking around footballs, is how they filled in their empty time. It might be worth noting for those not Australian, that I didn't see one person trying to get a photo or signature from Claudia Karven or Peter Phelps or any of the other vaguely known actors and comedians on the set, whereas these guys had a steady stream.

In Sydney, League is still King.

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