It Looks Like Worcester's Day

06-Sep-07 12:02 PM by
Filed under Celebrities, Films; 3 comments.

Here's a post of limited geographic appeal — but as I suspect many of my readers are concentrated in my area, here goes:

Worcester Living, a bimonthly magazine of Central Massachusetts, recently printed an interview with Templeton native and resident Richard S. Kendall. The article is a fascinating look at not only Mr. Kendall's story, but also the films, stars, and visual techniques he encountered in his years as a special effects artist. His credits are far more numerous than his IMDb profile suggests, including TRON, Fantastic Voyage, the original The Poseidon Adventure, Planet of the Apes, and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, among others. The picture of him being fed by Marilyn Monroe is one any red-blooded American would kill to be in. Unfortunately, since Worcester Living is an entirely print publication, you'll find no trace of the interview or its assets on their Web site.

A few weeks later, Worcester Magazine ran an interview with Kaz Gamble. Besides being part of the team behind the oft-delayed local independent film We Got the Beat, Mr. Gamble is also working on a documentary of my current stomping grounds of Worcester, Massachusetts. Here's what scene from his own life he would incorporate to epitomize Worcester:

We're on Richmond Street, getting out of St. Mary's — and that block itself looks like urban vibe — and some kids have a bus pass, so we leave there, take the bus downtown, hang out there, go to the Midtown Mall arcade, eat there in the mall, then the girls would try to flirt with us, and we leave, take the bus back out to the neighborhood, and going up to Holy Cross hill, all the houses there, the nice lawns, not like all the three-deckers, and in the evening, I would call dad to pick me up.

There are some pretty dull documentaries out there that consist of little more than pointing a camera at someone and presenting what they have to say, if anything; then there are fantastic documentaries that use that model as a base, but incorporate extensive editing and special effects to create a cohesive narrative. I hope Mr. Gamble has the wisdom to present this unique city as effectively as its rich history and unique culture deserve.

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.