So in your favorite TV show the hero is walking through a parking lot, talking on his cell phone. Look at the cars in the background. Each and every one has been selected, hired as background, and carefully arranged by a director. How do I know? My car was an extra for the filming of an episode of Grimm!
Last summer, my friend MJ and I signed up with Extras Only for a chance to work as an extra in Grimm. MJ has had several calls, but evidently they have a lot more requirements for a petite and classy strawberry blonde than they do for a six foot tall silver fox. BUT, on Thursday, I got a call for my car! It was a night shoot, so I showed up as instructed at 5:18PM. There were four other people with their cars for this scene. We waited. Then we were directed into one parking lot, re-arranged, directed to a different section of parking lot, carefully arranged (My orange Prius is at the far end of the line) and waited. Finally a nice young man said, "OK, we're going to start shooting so we need you to get out of your car for a bit." We stood back and watched as the actor walked past the cars, talking on his phone. And again. And again. The sun was setting and the camera needed to be adjusted. The wind picked up. After about forty minutes I asked if I could grab my coat. While the camera and screens were being adjusted yet again, I got permission to grab my coat. The other four drivers took advantage to grab their coats. And we stood and waited. Finally the shot was done. We were sent to yet another parking lot, carefully arranged, then led to a "Holding Area,"with about fifty other car owners at around 7 PM. We filled out paperwork, then were told not to wander, and left to our own devices. There were three rooms for us. One with a TV and lots of straight chairs and conference tables, one with dim lights and a few big ottomans, and one with bright lights, conference tables and dry erase boards. I opted for the dim lights right off. I knew it was a night shoot. I knew it might last until 7AM. I had snackies and a thermos of hot tea, knitting, paper and pen for writing, and my ever handy, ever entertaining imagination. I tried sleeping but a 4X3 ottoman is just not big enough. And it was cold. And there were noises. I got the best doze when I remembered reading how guys in jail had to sleep in, "the tank," where it was cold. They would kneel, fold over and rest their elbows on the ground, and lock their fingers behind their heads. It conserves maximum body heat, and it's possible to sort of relax and rest in position. The face rests on your upraised forearms, and your breath helps to warm your core. My legs fell asleep long before I did, and people sort of snickered at me, but I did manage to get about half an hour's good doze before the caters started banging around and setting up for dinner at midnight.
First they fed the cast and crew - with the stars in a separate room. Among the cast were two guys in full wesen make-up. Not Blutbahts, but some kind of canine. Very, very neat to see. I wanted to ask how it felt and if it was hard to eat and yadahyadah fangirl gush, but we were kept separate from them - which made sense, because they had only half an hour to eat, and they didn't need strangers bugging them. I did see David Giuntoli being led to the star's dining room. He's cute and acts sort of shy.
Then they re-filled the steam table and fed the fifty plus car owners. I passed on the free food because I'm trying SO hard to lose some weight. But evidently, a hot meal for extras is a real treat! I was told extras usually get a coke and a cold sandwich.
Then everyone settled down, except a group of three women with shrill piercing voices, and two men with low voices which carried well. They literally talked all night.
At 5:30AM our wrangler showed up and gave us the welcome announcement that shooting was over and we could go home. At 5:30 AM in March, it is pitch black and cold as a well-digger's elbow. I had to scrape frost off my windshield before I made my weary way home.
Time was, I could pull an all-nighter and still function the next day. That was decades ago - in the last century in fact, and I am sadly out of training. I got home, kissed Kyle, took a hot bath, and fell into bed for the next six hours. It was interesting and fun, but I don't think I'm up for another night shoot. Still, my car will be in a future episode of Grimm! Oh boy!