Davis Advertising and YOU!

18-Dec-08 3:46 PM by
Filed under Films, On Stage, Potpourri; 5 comments.

I can't help but admire movie actors who are able to convey so much emotion and passion, because I know that the filmmaking process induces almost exactly the opposite. Big-budget films require inconvenient locations, long hours, and scenes shot seconds at a time, making it difficult to maintain energy from cut to cut.

I experience few of those challenges in my own avocation as a stage actor. Most of my work is in musicals like Brigadoon, or comedies such as Run For Your Wife!. But a good actor is a diverse one, and I try to reflect that in a portfolio that includes other media as well. I've worked on the silver screen before, but only as an extra, a role that's easy to miss. Recently, I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to star in a commercial.

Davis Advertising of Worcester, Mass., recently wanted to create a short video for digital distribution in online and media press kits. They sent out some emails, which eventually circulated to a friend with whom I'd been in the chorus of the musical Camelot five years ago. When he saw that they were looking for a "clean-cut, Richie Cunningham type", he immediately thought of me — proving it's not who you know, but who knows you. A few emails with the advertising company and an agreement to shave my beard later, and I had the part.

Working with just two men behind the camera and only one in front of it proved a much more enjoyable experience than being a film extra. We were able to shoot multiple takes, change angles, and improve and improvise rapidly. I've been told that I am a good physical actor (think Donald O'Connor in Singin' in the Rain), and the format of this commercial suited that strength; I had all my lines down in no time flat! An hour of shooting and we were done — and a month later, the following commercial was unveiled:

(For those curious, the stock footage comes from the PSA "Are You Ready for Marriage?". Hat tip to Kahm!)

Thanks again to Jeff at Davis Advertising and Clyde from Sterling Community Theater for this, my first-ever commercial. It was a great experience and a new one to put on my theatrical résumé. I look forward to doing more such work!

Iron Man Faces His Greatest Foe

15-Sep-08 10:27 AM by
Filed under Films; 2 comments.

Iron Man: fights corporate moguls, ancient wizards, and … cancer?

Iron Man 2, currently slated for release on May 2, 2010, is offering fans the opportunity to be a part of comic book history. By bidding on this eBay auction, you can win a walk-on/extra role in the sequel, as well as a meet-and-greet with the cast, and a walk down the red carpet at the film's premiere. How much fun would that be? I can imagine smiling and waving at the papparazzi as they ask, "Who's that?" "I don't know, but he must be famous!"

Of course, there are caveats: "Role and length of screen time to be determined by Marvel"; "Role and length of screen time to be determined by Marvel, and there can be no assurance that the role will appear in the final version of the film"; "If experience cannot be fulfilled, Marvel will provide alternative set visits/premieres based on Marvel’s availability". Them's the breaks of working in Tinsel Town.

I've detailed my experiences working as an extra and how ot requires patience for long hours and minimum wage. If that wasn't appealing enough, now you can pay tens of thousands of dollars for the privilege! It might be cheaper to just move to L.A. and sign up for any of the many casting companies that handle such crowd scenes. But if you're bidding on this auction, chances are your goal is not to grab your 15 seconds of fame, but to support a noble cause: proceeds from the auction go to Stand Up To Cancer (a charity I could find listed at neither Charity Navigator nor GuideStar non-profit profile and rating services), making this bidding war a more philanthropic exploitation of geek culture than some other auctions.

As a sci-fi geek and a former participant in cancer fundraisers, the angles of this auction piqued my interest. Though I'm not sure if an eBay auction can be limited to pre-qualified bidders, this one claims to require screening of interested parties. Curious, I filled out the last Wednesday, back when the going price was only $8000. I received a call back Thursday afternoon on my voice mail. I returned it on Friday and left them a voice mail. No progress has been made beyond this game of tag, and with the auction ending in 13 hours, it looks like I will not be able to contribute my entire life savings toward this auction.

(Hat tip to ComingSoon.net)

Read All About It

13-Jun-07 4:16 PM by
Filed under Films, Potpourri; 2 comments.

Potentially working as an extra on Indiana Jones 4 later this month has me thinking about my two previous experiences in that capacity.

The first was Fever Pitch, the 2005 film starring Jimmy Fallon and Drew Barrymore. Several scenes were shot in Fenway Park, a small section of which Boston Casting filled with paid extras. Not the whole stadium, though; in any sufficiently wide-angled shot, if you look far enough back, you'll notice none of the fans are moving. That's because they don't have legs. To save money on actual extras, inflatable dummies often fill in the seats that no one will notice beyond whether or not they're occupied.

It took a long time to set up each shot, what with lighting, makeup, cameras, and conferrals among the production crew. Every scene had to be filmed multiple times from multiple angles, so the extras huddled under their jackets, waiting for the call to "Action!" before shedding their covers and acting warm until "Cut!" signified it was safe to warm up again while the crew reviewed the recent footage and prepared for more. No noise was permitted; we mimed our actions, with cheers or catcalls (which may otherwise drown out the main characters' dialogue) dubbed in later. I didn't see Drew Barrymore, but Jimmy Fallon seemed happy to be surrounded by fans. We kept him company that September night from 6 PM to 6 AM — probably the first all-nighter I've ever pulled. (Driving home, I noticed my framerate had dropped considerably.) But it was all worth it:


Fever Pitch
Click for larger image.

The other movie I've worked on was The Game Plan, starring Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson. I worked as a sideline photographer at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro and again at Fitton Field at Holy Cross in Worcester. Each required showing up at 4 AM, which meant rolling out of bed at 2 AM. It was wet and dreary that October, and though I was spared the false enthusiasm of pretending to be a fan in the bleachers, I wasn't able to remain seated like they were, which was exhausting. Hundreds of extras reneged, to the point that Boston Casting desperately offered iPod raffles as an incentive for people to show up. I don't know if I'll be visible when the film hits theaters in September, but, as with Fever Pitch (which I've never actually watched, except for my scenes), the DVD will likely prove more enlightening.

Long hours, crappy food, and minimum wage — I'd decided additional extra work would give me insufficient compensation to warrant pursuing further opportunities; they'd just be redundant on my resume, anyway. But, unlike Sean Connery, for Indiana Jones, I'll come out of retirement.

Extras of the Lost Ark

05-Jun-07 8:30 AM by
Filed under Films; 3 comments.

Best reason to take a day off from work ever.

Don't look for me in my cubicle next Monday; I'll be cracking my whip in New Haven (along with every other actor and bystander in New England).