Saturday, April 21, 2007

Leatherheads Day 5 - End of the day surprise

Friday, April 20th (pm) Today went along rather uneventful. In the morning we were doing reaction shots as "fans" in the stands. The directors and production crew had to get us to realistically react to a football scene.

The walks hundreds of us out to the stadium and bring us down aisles. With only a few hundred extras (I think there may be around 500 now), they bring us down the aisles of Memorial stadium and start to get up to fill up the first 5 rows of the stadium in about the first 3 or 4 sections from the endzone.

Our job as fans is to react in a variety of ways to get very good action shots. There is no actual game going on. We are looking out on the field at camera's, production crew, microphones, carts, etc. I assume the guy in the movie credits called the Grip is somewhere out there as well, but still want to find that person as for years I wondered by a key grip is.

All the production crew are on radio freqnencies to each other (including different channels depending on what job you have). The directors and production assistants continually talk with each other throughout the day to coordinate everything from who should be taken from Extra's holding, to when they are ready to shoot the scene to where to place the actors in the scene.

I am sitting in the 2nd row next to two women, both dressed in those beautful 1920's hats and clothes. On my left,(in real life) is Jody, a real estate agent who lives just West of Charlotte. On my right is Sharon who calls herself a "Jill of all trades". She teaches Swing dancing, creates antique jewelry, does photography and interior design. While waiting around Jody takes a call on her mobile phone she pulls out of her 1920's purse. It is from her 9 year old son, who is also an extra in the movie sitting somewhere else in the stadium.

The directors now tell us to be ready and describe the scene we will be looking at and how we might want to react (cheering, booing, bored or like nothing special is going on).

The first scene is a play that is a big play for the other team. So our reaction is to be upset at the defense of our team for letting up a big play. In the stands also the prop people have handed out props from that time period such as buttons, game programs and cigarettes.

One of the things we also have to do is to have some fans start standing, but not all at the same time. The directors instruct all people with a birthday in April, Stand up. As the plays develop on the field the rest of us will stand to cheer or boo the play. Today we also do some acting like talking to the person next to us, pointing at the play, or congratulating each other after a big play.

After that, they moved us to the endzone for more shots. However, the asst director said anyone on the sideline needs to be out of the shot. I left to go to the sideline as a photographer again. As I moved from the stands to the field I stopped by to see the propmaster. He let's me pick my camera (a 1920's vintage camera) from the prop table. I enter the field and we are instructed to go to the place where we were standing previously. For me that was on the 45 yard line right next to the cheerleaders, coach and trainer in front of the team bench.

I am standing on the sideline and all of a sudden I am told to move back off near or behind the bench. There are now about 20 people behind the cameras with two cameras pointing at me. One is from the left at about 10 o'clock the other is straight ahead at noon..The third camera is down the sidelines to my left at about 2 pm.
The production assistants take a tape measure to measure the focal point.

The director places Wayne Duvall (Coach) to my right) there is also a trainer with the team mascot nearby as well as well. When they call for action, I realize at this point it doesn't get any better than that. This might be my moment as we are looking at a play on the field and reacting to it. Could this be my close up? Only the editors will know. It was a great way to end the day and start the weekend.

Leatherheads -Lunchtime - The "Cast(e)" System

Each day the extra's are provided breakfast, lunch, snacks and water and gatorade. Our food for lunch is what I would call "upscale cafeteria food". We have salads (regular or caesar), fish, pork, beef stew and chicken (fried, baked or bbq)..We also had fruit salad, mac and cheese, vegetable lasagna and regular lasagna.

We enter the "Extra's holding" each day at appoximately 1 pm depending on how the shooting was that day. The women and children are given priority to enter the building. We wrap around the sidewalk as there are hundreds of us in our 1020's wardrobe. We walk up out of the stadium and find ourselves walking further up a hill and out the gate so we can enter in front.

As we enter the old building, we are in the main hall, the line snaking around. Finally we walk down the stairs and there is a very efficient operation. One of the Production assistants named Michelle is waiting at the bottom of the stairs and letting us move toward the buffet tables at about 10 people at a time. There are 6 tables with actors going down both sides.

We then proceed to the white table clothed tables.

The directors, actors and film crew however on Thursday had chinese food delivered on a cart to the field. Some were carrying out egg rolls. On Friday, Pizza was delivered from fuel pizza.

As far as snacks, we had a smorgasbord of things from one of the warehouse clubs, slim jims, twizzlers, granola bars, pretzels, etc.

The crew had snacks that were a little more upscale at times. There were coolers filled with drinks on the field. Two of them were filled with gatorade, water, coca cola, etc. This was marked in big magic marker "Not for Extras". The other had bottled water. it was marked "Extras".

Leatherheads - Day 5 - Getting ready for the day

I woke up at about 5:30 am with around 5 hours sleep and arrived on the set for my usual (oh it's routine now) visit to the Extra's table to fill out my paperwork and a visit to hand it off the Maryann who is always smiling (she said her father is a dentist) as she takes the paperwork to allow me to go into the wardrobe tent.

I walk into the Men's wardrobe tent. It is one of 3 tents that are setup in a parking lot outside the stadium (women's wardrobe, men's wardrobe and makeup/haircutting. In the Men's tent are about a 5 large rows or racks of clothes. Each of the actors/extras has their own # to identify where their clothes are. My place is at the end of the aisle on the right. There is a plastic divider with my name, cast ID#, and a list of wardrobe that has been provided to me by the wardrobe department, a brown coat, a cap, and a scarf.

I exit the Wardrobe tent and then stand in a line of about 20 Men waiting to enter the makeup/haircut tent. People in these departments are walking down the line to see if anyone needs a trim or haircut to keep us in the style of the 1920's. Short on the sides and back of the neck. They also check to see how clean shaven we are since in the 1920's it seems that men shaved very close, so the face is smooth.

A production assistant is playing traffic cop within the tent. On the far wall are about a dozen hairstylists. Some specialize in men, some with women and some with children. The women really have a lot of work done each day to give them the hairstyle of the 1920's. I am signalled to get my haircut. The women who does not cut my hair but styles, combs and puts mousse in it. She has a dollar bill pinned with a saftey pin to her lapel. I ask her what that is for and she tells me it is her birthday. We have a conversation about being on the road and working on a movie production.

I then leave the chair and have to be checked by makeup. They tell me that I need to shave this morning. I sit at a table near the entrance to the tent. It is a giant makeup mirror with 3 or 4 electric razors to choose from and some spray lubricant (that is essentially like shaving cream) so as to not cut up your face. As I sitting there shaving, the makeup artist next to me is applying "blood" to a soldier who is appearing in the movie.

The last step is to apply sunscreen. The sunscreen is a very important part of this process. On Monday, I thought it was just to protect us from the sun. Now I realize it is for a few reasons - to keep us from tanning and there for looking different in each shot (since all week we are shooting the same football game)..It would not be realistic to get a great tan from the 1st quarter to the 4th quarter, although many of us would love that.

i walk down a long road between the stadium and production trailers to the building (in real life called the Grady Cole Center), but for our purposes it is called "Extras Holding". Although it is only 7 am, hundreds of extras and actors have been madeup and fully wardrobed. We walk into the front door of the building and down the stairs to a large room which in real life is a 50 year old gymnasium with a converted basketball court. There are about 30 or 40 long tables with white or blue plastic tableclothes. The white tables are for the extras sit at for lunch and the blue tableclothes are for the crew.

Caterers who have been preparing the breakfast have a buffet set up each morning with Cereal (Raisin Bran, Special K, Cocoa Puffs), danish, and then grits, oatmeal, sausages, hash browns, and scrambled eggs. For drinks there is orange juice, coffee or water.

Looking out among the three hundred or so extras dressed in costumes from police officers, referees, league commisioners, soldiers,cheerleaders, football players, team trainers coaches fans ad press, someone commented that it looked like a soup kitchen from the great depressiion (although the clothes are much too nice).

This room reminded me of my train commutes from Stamford, CT to Grand Central at that time of day. Some people are talking, some are reading their newspaper and some are sleeping. I have a relatively late start time. Some extras have to be there at 4:30 or 5 am to get dressed.

At about 8 am, a production assistant makes an announcment and helps to wake us up a bit. From the large stage at the end of the room he begins to call for various grops of people to assemble by the door leading out of the "extras holding" to the football field. By now most of us have specific groups we are in, Sideline Press or people on the home team side, sideline press for the away team, Fans, trainers, football players, etc.

They call for sideline press and we exit the building and walk about 50 yards to the entrance of the stadium.