I had a horrible bout with back trouble in April and May. I only bring this up because, even though I was off work, I dragged my sorry butt and sore back into two different auditions. One was for a movie called The River Man and the other was for the prequel to last year’s CBC mini-series “Trudeau”.
Weeks pass. My back got better. My sinus infection cleared. A flu bug came and went. I somehow escaped being shot behind the barn, that's how rough of shape I was in. And I got my haircut, a clear signal I’d given up on anything coming from the auditions.
The casting agent called me with an offer for to play on Trudeau: The Early Years”. It was only one line. Maybe two. But it was an Actor part. Was I interested? Both interested and available I informed her.
I took my son to the wardrobe fitting. I picked him up from the babysitter and tried my best to explain to him why Daddy needed to go downtown and what a movie set was. He asked me in a puzzled kind of voice, “Daddy… are you going to be a movie star?” Very sweet of him, but I assured him I was not. We got to set and the wardrobe truck, which was actually parked inside. My son thought it was very cool, a big truck like that parked indoors. He was a hit too (naturally) and different members of the crew treated him to muffins, apple juice and Smarties.
Not surprisingly, he wanted to come back on the day. I wish I could have brought him.
So I show up on another lovely sunny and warm day in our area. I park my car and check in. I’m shown to my trailer.
I got a trailer. Make that "My Trailer".
Never mind it's a shared Trailer. A long, sectional thing that's divided into about four 6x6 rooms. Some people actually call it a kennel. There’s a production assistant who’s very pleasant and polite and always asking me if I want something to drink. Sometimes I say yes. Mostly I hang out in My Trailer, reading my book, killing some time. At some point I’m (interupted) invited to Hair & Makeup where I go get a haircut and my face done. The makeup lady is the same woman who was on my first real shoot for Atlantic Lotto. We’ve run into each other a number of times since. She’s always very nice. She clips my nose hairs and then it’s back to the trailer. In an hour the P.A. comes back to tell me that we’re broke for lunch. Whoo! It's been hard work so far, good thing there's the lunch break. I put down my book and have a lovely meal of pork with mushroom and bacon sauce, rice pilaf and “Colonel Corn with the candlestick in the library”. For desert there is a cheesecake cookie with chocolate and pecan pieces. Yum, and yum.
Afterward, it’s back to My Trailer. Read a bit more, lie back for a while, sit on the doorstep of My Trailer and enjoy the sunshine beating down upon me.
We’re a long way from Extras Holding, baby.
Slowly we start getting geared up to do the scene. I get my suit, a Gucci tie. It takes a couple of tries to get the right white shirt. My pants (which will never be seen on camera) need a bit of pressing, but we can do that later. So, to the set we go, chauffeured in a transport van. We do a blocking for the scene and we’re cleared so that the crew can set up the camera and lights. Back to My Trailer, now in my shorts and black socks with Oxford shoes while my pants go to Wardrobe and get a proper crease in them. Me on the stoop in shorts, black socks and Oxfords. It’s a good look, I say.
In a while, we’re back at the set, doing the scene for real. There are other folks there as Extras, all dressed in suits and ties. All of us supposed to be bureaucrats, but I’m the one with the line. Somehow it makes all the difference in the world, that line. When we finish a scene, we’re cleared from the set; the A.D. makes a point of saying “Clear for background and Ken” (that’s me). When we finish up for the day, they wrap “background and Ken”, then the 1st A.D. plucks at my sleeve and asks me to wait for a sec. Sure, I tell him. Anything you want. He calls into the room, “That’s a camera wrap for Ken everybody!” The crew applauds as a send-off. It’s a very nice moment, the first time for me. Some Extra asks me where I’m going next.
Home, I tell him.
Where’s that? he asks, and I know he's figuring I’m going to tell him I’m from Toronto. Because I had a line, see.
Home to Bedford, I tell him to his great surprise. I want to tell him, mostly I'm just like you. An Extra. But I don't.
It was a very nice day, getting to work a couple of levels higher in this fabulous show business caste system.
I’m sure my future postings from the world of the background performer will only be more acerbic as a result.
Still to Come
- Christmas with Valerie Bertenelli (I promise)
- More stuff I haven't done yet but hope to.