March 2, 2007
Lost in Hawaii
I will be on the set of Lost most of the day for the second Friday in a row, contributing to the artistic endeavorers of Hollywood pragmatics. It is amusing to watch them, with the Hollywood attitudes, interact with the locals here. Not ot say that they are rude or snobby, just not from around here.
For those of you not familiar with the show, and I must confess I do not regularly watch the show, it is filmed here in Hawaii. A plane leaving form Australia crashes somewhere in the Pacific and the survivors make it to a deserted island- kind of like Gilligan's Island but a lot more beefcake shots and gratuitous skimpy shots of the women. But believe me when I tell you there is more going on with these castaways than figuring out to rig a coconut to work as a side band radio.
The show uses flashbacks to develop character history and explain why they are who they are. I have been in two flashbacks, one with Clair which will air the last Wednesday in March, and the current flashback I am filming with Desmond. I do not want to get into plot or details but I have posted these pictures of me after leaving wardrobe. The first is me as an Australian policeman and the other of my part as a monk.
It is a fun experience to watch the magic of Hollywood unfold. I have seen the big blue screens, the director's chair, scripts, makeup people making a fuss over the main characters. It is all very interesting to watch in person. I would love to get my picture taken with the cast members I've seen but it is frowned on, me being a lowly extra. But I can understand why, especially when some scenes may have dozens of extras. The person would never have a moment of peace and after watching Desmond practicing his lines after every take, I can see that this is serious business and focus is crucial.
I must say that I have a different attitude towards actors now. Not everybody can be a good actor and there is an inherent amount of skill, whether it be learned or come naturally, that is involved with the whole process- a process that I would much like to be more involved in one day. No, I am not going to move to L.A. and bus tables where Scorcesi and Ron Howard eat lunch hoping to get discovered, but I will keep my portfolio up to date with the local casting agency.
Gone are the days where all they want are the chiseled chins, abs, ass cheeks and perfect hair (at least for extras or background work) and I hear that more and more "regular" looking people are hired on for these positions.
I really enjoy talking to my fellow extras most of whom have been doing this sort of work much longer than I have. I met a few people who worked on the set of You, Me and Dupree because it was shot out here. I have also met some older people, perhaps in their 50's who have been in some movies from the 70's and 80's. They all have a story to tell and are eager to tell them. It is my favorite part of the whole experience. For example, when you see a crowded bar scene or restaurant scene the people aren't really talking and there is no music playing. It would be too difficult to hear the actors with all that activity. So everyone lip syncs and everyone dances to no music, which explains why you sometimes see people in club scenes literally dancing to the beat of a different drum. Costumes are tapped down or pinned up, hair is always being sprayed, blue or green screens in background will later show extravagant scenes like a vineyard in the middle of Honolulu.
I think the hardest part of the acting would be to appear natural. I watch these people say their lines and get into character whereas I would be embarrassed that people were watching me do this fake alter-ego. But I guess that would wear off just like my feelings of wearing bell-bottom pants when I first came in the Navy. Everyone does it, it is part of job, so get over it. Plus, I think get over really quick after I got the first paycheck. I am doing nothing but walking around in the background for 20-25 takes in a day and getting around $200. Speaking parts earn more even if you are an extra.
So, if you would like to get into movie/television acting just send a few pictures of yourself along with your clothes sizes to your nearest casting agency. You never know what they are looking for and it is a great experience.