The wardrobe mistress peered at me doubtfully. "Is this your first time doing background?"
So, that’s not the way I wanted to start the day. The question was asked pleasantly enough, but still.
When I showed up on Friday I had only a paltry collection of earth-tone shirts; it's not a colour I usually wear but that’s what was asked for on the casting call. Wardrobe provided me with an alternate shirt for the for the first scene and we ended up "making do" with a heavy brown shirt of mine for a second one.
So over the weekend I bought new shirts and, pleased to show them off, brought those into set this morning.
It turns out we’re shooting scenes that, in the show, are from the same day as the second scene we did on Friday. And so the wardrobe mistress asked me for that same ugly brown shirt.
The one I'd left behind.
I had given that a brief thought, you know, but I decided that since I wasn't specifically there as a "continuiuty" extra I was good to bring all new shirts in. They were nicer shirts, after all! So despite having done this kind of stuff A LOT, this is the first time I've done consecutive working days and, hey lookit, I learned soemthing new, the hard way: From now on, bring on all the stuff you've ever worn.
It turns out it's not a hardship on anyone. I apologize to the wardrobe mistress and she brushes it off. Happens all the time, she says. The only thing is that I will sit out the first scene we're shooting this morning, waiting for subsequent scenes that take place on a different day.
So even though this turns out to be no big deal, I feel irked with myself. It seems to me I shouldn't be making "rookie mistakes" at this stage of the game.
A nice breakfast helps to improve the mood. Flavoured croissant, with egg, pea bacon and provolone. A potato pancake. Juice and coffee and paperwork to get me all signed in. All the other teachers are called to the set. I sit in a corner in Holding with a dunce cap on.
Well, no. Not really.
Later, I do get to go in and be part of a scene. I'm just moving behind a window, it's only a few takes and it doesn't take long. I chat briefly with the executive producer whose son played on the same baseball team as mine last year. He gives me the okay to take some pictures of the set I can show my boy later on.
Back again in Holding starts the longest wait of the two days. The talk around the table among the other actors there to be teachers starts with behind-the-scenes stuff. First it's union bureaucracy and then it's sex and the people who use it to get roles. Everyone here knows more than me. I recognize some of the names of the people being talked about. A couple are stars. It's a bit too TMZ for me. I close my eyes and almost fall asleep.
I learn we are calling ourselves BeeGees now. BGs. For BackGround.
On set is Diane, a lady I recognize from the one time I was on set last year, what are the odds! Her daughter is here playing one of the students. I commented to her on the coincidence and it seemed she didn’t find it quite as remarkable. Belatedly I remembered that her main job on set is not to chaperone her daughter, but to be a stand-in for one of the principle actresses, same as last year. Diane was both friendly and gracious in the face of my doofus-ness.
The hours drag on. This is turning into a long day of mostly waiting. With the heat in Holding, I'm starting to feel like an Ugly Bag of Mostly Water (bonus trekker points if you understood the reference). My smart phone battery dwindles to almost nothing.
Lunch was at around 2pm. The next call to set wasn't until quarter to six. We collected in the "staff room" and waited there some more until we got to go out for a single take of the last scene of the day. We were wrapped at 7pm.
But in the staff room, prior to turning the cameras around to film that one take with the background, I got to peek through the window past the assembled crew outside and watch the monitors again as Jonathan Torrens and Bette MacDonald performed the scene together.
The people here are so funny. And they’re having a lot of fun. It's a treat to watch them work.