Tuesday, February 17, 2009

On the Movie Set

The weekend held a surprising adventure as Lys and I received a confirmation email Saturday night that we would be needed as "background artists" (more commonly and realistically known as "extras") on the set of a movie being filmed in Carmel. The initial call time was 6:30 a.m. Sunday, but thankfully I checked my email just before going to bed and it had been changed to 9:30 a.m. The wind howled and the rain pounded all night Saturday night, even causing one of the trees in my backyard to blow over against the fence, so it was a restless night.

Sunday morning arrived, we showered and washed our hair, did our makeup and donned our outfits. We were told to wear something with color (I guess at the last casting call all the extras showed up in black and it looked like a funeral instead of a spring day in Carmel). We were also instructed to bring three additional options with us. We would be hotel patrons, walking through the lobby, checking in and out of our rooms, etc.

The Cypress Inn (above) with three truckloads of film equipment.

Despite the wind and rain, we arrived at the Cypress Inn promptly at 9:15 and were escorted to the holding room where the other 10-12 extras were waiting. The casting coordinator introduced the Costume Director who gave us each a once over. Some of us were asked to change into different colors than we originally wore. Then the waiting began. One of the producer's assistants came in and said the actors were rehearsing and described the scene they were rehearsing. In the scene were Alfred Molina (Spiderman, Pink Panther 2, and numerous other films and TV shows) and Josh Hutcherson (Bridge to Terabithia and Journey to the Center of the Earth). The film synoposis is:

"Carmel the Movie", starring Lauren Bacall, Alfred Molina, Hayden Panettiere, Billy Boyd, Dina Eastwood, and Scott Eastwood focuses on a troubled 16-year-old boy, who wanders into Carmel, falls into the wrong crowd and becomes involved in art forgery.

Okay, I confess, I had to look some people up on the internet as I wasn't sure who they were. Hayden Panettiere plays Claire on the TV show Heroes, Billy Boyd was one of the hobbits in Lord of the Rings. Dina Eastwood we knew as we had met her and Clint Eastwood in a restaurant a few years ago. Scott Eastwood is Clint's son. And everyone knows Lauren Bacall.

We had been forewarned that there is a lot of hurry up and wait in making a film, so we all settled in with newspapers, crossword puzzles, and conversations on everything from the housing market to pets. The Cypress Inn is owned by Doris Day, an animal lover, so it is a pet-friendly hotel. They wanted to make this point in the film, so had asked for a few people to bring their dogs with them. Lys and I considered Chaucer (Frosty would have been much too squirrely), but decided we didn't want to be encumbered with a dog all day.

The producer's assistant came back in and told two people with dogs to go to the lobby (where the scene was being shot), then awhile later took one more person. After awhile the casting coordinator said that the director decided to shoot the scene at a totally different angle than anticipated -- into the room instead of with the lobby in the background -- and that they only needed the first two extras (with their dogs) and the rest of us weren't needed but could go up on the set and watch.

The crew was on their way to taking a break just as we arrived, and Alfred Molina smiled and squeezed past me in the hallway. Then Lys and I found a table between the bar and the foyer, next to Josh Hutcherson, who was writing in his journal until makeup came to touch up his makeup. Billy Boyd stood by us, chatting. So while we weren't in the movie, we had the fun, different experience of being on the set. The movie is scheduled to be released in 2010.

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