The casting call for Crash
I woke up early, arrived at 7:00 am. First in line is good. Shortly afterward, I met 2nd in line, Henry Calderon, we talked about various things until Robert Baxter's casting crew arrived. Robert is looking sharp and professional. I commented how he cleaned up after his role riding his Harley in Wild Hogs
I worked background in the town and Carnival Fiesta scenes at Madrid NM. He was not only our assistant casting director there, but also worked in all of the Del Fuego's (great pics)
After filling out our spec sheets and getting a couple of digi pic head shots, Henry and I parted company. Henry called, concerned about getting dropped after turning down background offer Friday. His real job is 30 hours Friday through Sunday, Direct TV sales Costco, I-25-Montgomery. Relayed concerns to Robert, assured Henry still in data base.
10 July 2009:
Robert Baxter LionsGate
I went to the local thrift stores and found my $13.86 'wardrobe'.
Sufficiently and slightly worn, size 34x34 Levi button fly 501's, large hooded grey sweat shirt, nicely burnished Ariat ATS Terrain hiking boots
I also was ordered on short notice to Santa Fe on friday afternoon by Robert Baxter.
Base camp 75 miles (120km) north of Albuquerque, was at exit 171 just North of the world famous Santa Fe Opera North of Santa Fe.
They ok'd me as a 'hand double' after Robert Baxter, CRASH casting director, met me at his bank for a few fast digi pics of my hands and flashed them on to the CRASH filming director in Santa Fe.
Seems they are to be used in place of Dennis Hopper's
I last worked with Dennis Hopper in Swing Vote
(Years ago, he was Peter Fonda's 'Wyatt', sidekick 'Billy' in Easy Rider (1969)
I have no idea why Dennis Hopper doesn't use his own hands?
I hope 'His hands' don't have to do something nasty... like .....?
My wife was saying don't use 'His hands' to Feel the girls :>)
(there are some really high heeled, gorgeous girls in this one)
They put me to wait in my own little air conditioned 6x8 wardrobe room in the 'actors' trailer basecamp units, across the walk path from film star Ross McCall's
My door sign said, "Ben's Hand Double". I waited around and took a nap on 'Ben's Hands' bunk. Finally I got bored and sat outside on the steps watching Ross Mcall play with his dog. I also watched the ornately 'wardrobed' background girls and starlets, until late afternoon when we were transported to the Film Set.
This, night Party 'shoot', was scheduled to last until dawn, when the ambient light overwhelms the big 'night lensed' cameras.
This 'CRASH episode' was shot at a very upscale home of Santa Fe style, in the foothills off Bishops Lodge Rd near Big Tesuque. This house looks strikingly similar to the Tesuque home listed in the 2008 Christie's issue three, pg 118. Big place on a scenic hillside overlook with 'different' rambling architecture, and a big strange stainless steel sculpture along side the driveway. Not being an artist, many things look 'special' to me.
The horse stable was bigger than most average homes. The beautifully furnished and decorated tack room (saddles and bridles) was nicer than most New Mexico homes.
Reminded me of working in the TV series 'Wildfire' these last years.
Robert Baxter was assistant casting director in Wildfire also.
Met several 'background' working as armed security or elite guests. No familiar faces from the last few years in the business. Maybe the Santa Fe location attracts other people? Maybe they all found 'real' jobs. Hard to say exactly.
On this night we were doing episode three of CRASH for this fall, 2009.
"An exclusive, expensive party, catered by world famous caterers and a famous band to keep the wealthy and influential guests dancing".
My portion of 'the Shoot' was rained out by an intense thunderstorm and they sent me home after 6 hours. Shuttle back to base camp in van, empty except for a couple of young crew.
According to 'Michael' my PA (production assistant) I am 'on call' for next week. Such is life in the 'Background'.
13 July 2009:
Received call from 'Dart' at the casting company for Lion's Gate Production. He gave me phone numbers to call if questions or if not able to attend this call. Drivers license and social security copies are necessary to work.
Tuesday will be busy and a long day. He gave me the number for the 'hotline'. Called it after 9 pm as ordered. Will have to call again one hour before 'call time'.
Call time for many, is 9 to 10 morning. I will be part of the 20 homeless due on set 4 pm at the Baptist Church. That church, with help from other Baptist Churches, feeds thousands of homeless every year. If used as a 'set' I hope they portray it in a good way.
That late hour usually means a twelve hour shift... minimum.
The three homeless wardrobe sets will be tough. Absolutely NO logo's such as Vikings or ??? NO red, white, or black. I only bought one basic outfit at the thrift store. I will have to mix it with other clothes used for hiking, camping. Oh well, homeless, hiking, camping, all the same thing right?
14 July 2009:
Dart called this morning, call time moved to 5 pm. Still to call one hour before.
Left home at 4 pm, arrived at Church parking lot early. That is the reason for meeting at the big church. Signed in at 'base camp holding', meeting a few old aquaintances from other film work over the years. Tom and Nathan Gleason are always actively seeking film work together. They are twins and over 6 feet tall so they stand out in the crowd. Later we were ordered to wardrobe for a check of 'character'.
I as well as others, required a slight change of tops or bottoms and we all needed lots of 'dirt' applied to our clothing by Joy, our wardrobe assistant. Old English furniture polish and dust powder of various shades looks like dirt. This group of 20 homeless, looks amazingly like they are really low life bottom feeders. Good job casting and wardrobe. The Gang Bangers looked like, and probably were, real 'homies' from the surrounding barrios. Many tatoos and piercings... all real. Peer pressured, Self mutilation is evident in these times. Wonder what that signifies? Non-conformity, yet total conformity?
Van ride to 'set holding' in a big office building backed up to Santa Fe rails. Called to street that had been littered with junk cars (one light blue, big old 70's, T-Bird in original condition) a real junker large car Pontiac, same vintage and littered bags of trash, broken glass. Several camera shoots later, after walking the set through various scenes and camera changes, we retreated into the back alley scene. many 'continuity' pics were taken by wardrobe. The New Mexico 'Rail Runner' heavy rail commuter from Santa Fe to Belen, passed by a couple of times along with a couple of Santa Fe freight trains. This set is a former warehouse loading dock on an old rail siding (gone now).
Several hours more with Eric Roberts the star (Seth)
After many camera angle moves, Sky crane 2k lights, and several more shoots in the dirtied, trash filled alley with burning (propane) barrels and lots of erie 'smoke machine', we all returned to 'set holding' and ate pizza. low budget films feed pizza to the background actors. The last scenes were done with me comfortably laying on a pile of trash bags, partly covered with a rug by assistant director. Head and 'boonie' hat with US flag on front, sticking out, straight in line background, as Maggie (Linda Park)
I dozed while on those comfortable trash bags, during this repeated sequence and awoke when the director shouted "that's it, end of shoot, thank all of you". We were vanned back to base camp, turned in dirtied wardrobe, had time posted on our vouchers and received instructions to call tomorrow at 10 am for further call times. Michael, our casting PA, said my 'Bens Hand Double' role will be on hold until later in season. Arrived home after 1 am.
Casting called twice wednesday, once early, to set time for 'walking person in the street' clean clothes. One more call came back to say that scene canceled for Thursday. Will be called back another day, 'standby on call'.
22 July 2009:
Smacked the back of one of 'Bens hands'. It is now slightly bruised. Oh well, make-up will fix it, or it will probably not be used for a time. Hopefully it heals fast. No word on any more background work for this Geezer. Enjoying the rainy season. Lots of flooded arroyos and streets this time of year we call the 'Monsoon Season'.
Fast moving rainstorms cross the city and mountains, bringing welcome rain to our area. Our yearly average is only about 8 inches for the entire area. Spent the last 3 days getting incompatible version 8 MSN Explorer off and version 7 re-installed. Those online help people in India sure are smart, They graduated 23,000 with degrees in just this last class. Version 8 is sure 'clingy'. Had to seriously 'block' it.
Serious problems with computer, Wife had to completely clean and reprogram. It is back to a basic box now. Fast though :>)
23 July 2009:
Robert Baxter called this morning. Report to Lionsgate Studio west of Bernalillo at 2 pm. Ben's Hand Double is required. The bruise was going away because of the immediate application of ice. I arrived at Robert's office in the studio, and was introduced to another Robert who measured my right ring finger. Micheal the PA, took me to meet Jenna, in wardrobe. After consideration and discussion with Director and Camera man, no wardrobe involved. The Model Shop 'Set' is well 'propped'. The large red single rotary engined model plane hanging from the ceiling is an eye catcher.
Joe the Assistant 'Props' Master, set me up with a simple gold band on the right hand. After waiting around for about three hours, the 'Insert' film session was set up in a small room just 'off set'. An assistant director handed me a remote controller to memorize it's button locations. With the support of the mirrored table and a piece of foam, I held the remote controller at the perfect angle. Then with my right thumb, flicked it from 'angle' to 'view' to 'stop' to 'pause' to 'rewind' to 'play' many times repeatedly in different dwell time formats. This scene has 'Ben' checking a video survelance monitor watching a building. Men on the video are moving about suspiciously outside.
The big German made ARRI 416 Camera
I watched while Joe 'Props' repaired a couple of small dark green 68 Mustang 'Bullit' (Steve McQueen) model cars that were to be destroyed later by a baseball bat swung by ...... Said they would have spent days building models if a different one was used each 'take'. Joe said he built hundreds as a kid. Loved the hobby, remarked that it's rare to find kids interested these days.
Michael the PA (production assistant) from my other days on set, eventually came by after being trapped behind the 'live set' and signed my voucher for 4.5 hours. He told me to enjoy the buffet line before leaving. Mario's Catering did an excellent job with the food. Returned home 25 miles (40km) after being told to STANDBY On Call. I will add to this post as 'calls' are received and spare time allows.
28 July 2009, Note to locals;
A large background 'call' for locals to work for a two days film shoot of 'Paul' in the downtown Albuquerque Convention Center 'set', is standing for the middle of August. They will donate $50 a day to the charity of your choice in lieu of your daily pay. Two day's will be required, 12 hours per day. If you feel charitable, call 505-982-9681 for details and acceptance. Primarily College age are preferred in this scene. Parking and meals are free.
08 August 2009:
One of our son's and his little Family left for the long drive return to Wisconsin today. Fun to see them as often as possible. Enjoy watching the little ones grow a little each rare visit we are able to arrange. We all drove up behind the mountain to Madrid. Sat at the big round table, one of many in the Mineshaft Tavern, where the WILD HOGS and the DEL FUEGOS drank Beer. We ate Nachos, had a beer, they have Shiner Draft.. smooth Texas beer. Drove to the top of the Sandia Mountain Crest and looked over the fantastic panorama a mile below. After spending some quality time in the area, They returned safely across the thousand plus miles, to their own lives, after only a short few days in the wilds of New Mexico.
11 August 2009 Tuesday:
Robert Baxter, casting Director for Lionsgate CRASH, just called. My role as Hand Double for 'Ben' (Dennis Hopper) is requested today. Details forthcoming....
Bob called back this afternoon, 'Insert' shoot, postponed until tomorrow, Wednesday.
I am Back to a few days of doing 'trip prep' oil changes on wifes car, Jeep and MotorHome. Generator uses a $13 'Onan Specific' oil filter...Hmmm, cross referenced to WIX, NAPA filter had the better red silicone valve.
Standing by, for casting call:
12 August 2009:
'Dart' from Lionsgate called, Call time 3:00 PM at Bernallilo Studio, for 'Ben's Hand Double. Arrived shortly before 3:00 PM. reported to Robert, we looked at calendar. Five more weeks in this production running double shifts. Turned over to sign in at 'Holding'. Found out that today I will work with Peggy Lipton's
Krista is an astoundingly beautiful, blue eyed young woman from Arizona. Tanned of course and NO body self mutilation. We both were given 'wardrobe' by Joy, to prep for the scene. Krista wore a silver, woven patterned ring she bought in Oro Valley Arizona, at Marshall's Jeweler's, at the time of her divorce three years ago.
Her knuckles had expanded and 'Props' had to cut it off with wire cutters. Krista could not watch, and covered her face with her other hand. Our wait time was passed reading and snacking on crackers. Krista ate almost an entire bag of M&M's before realizing what she was doing, and trying to give the candy to the other girls.
The 'holding' area was filled with the 'Club' Scenes background. Many very young attractive ladies and well dressed, mixed, wealthy dark suited men of various ages and a few pony tails. The young ladies were gorgeous, some were extremely tall and wearing high heels as well. All were well proportioned. Their wardrobe changed for the 'Club 27' scene, while Krista and I waited for our 'insert' shoot, as Hand Doubles.
Michael returned after our couple hours wait, to get us for the back stage 'shoot'. The tall table was set up with lots of photographs. Krista wore a two piece, white with gray 'top'. I wore a dark stripped shirt and black dress jacket, one gold band on the right ring finger and a TIMEX watch.
Krista was fitted with two rings and other accouterments. We sat on two boxes, ...very close... :>) She is beautiful. We held up the pictures at the perfect angle and distance, so the ARRI camera could capture the image. Krista picked up and handed the pictures to me as we watched the laptop, following Dennis Hopper's and Peggy Lipton's hand movements.
We repeated this scene several times at the Directors verbal prompts. Each move was done to a count, relative to the scenes timing. Eventually enough footage was captured to make a workable scene. The primary Director said thank you and we were released for the day. Hand over the 'props' to Joe.
Michael explained the scene thusly: "Ben goes over to the woman's home to discuss pictures and memories, and also discuss 'Euthanasia' of the elderly family member". Yup, it's coming folks. Hollywood will often now portray it as acceptable. Casting signed us out at 6:30 PM, and we were free to leave 3.5 hours after Call Time.
Not a lot of money in this one. One hour total drive time for three and a half hours 'on set'. $140 for 12 hrs is scale for this role, but New Mexico does not hold accepted union rules over the production companies. That is one reason Hollywood comes here to film. Of course the main reasons are the subsidized studios, available funding and tax exemptions.
Last word we received was "STAND BY" for next 'Call'.
14 August 2009;
Just received an availability call from Heather with LIONSGATE Casting. She and I spoke 19 August, she said 'a Church scene' as a church supporter, so I shaved off the stubble, wife's happier, left the mustache and smaller Dennis Hopper beard, in case of 'Hand Double call'. Call time still unknown for Friday.
Heather will call again on 20 August 2009 to set up a 'Call Time' for the 21st, Friday.
21 August 2009:
Confirmed 'call time' with 'hotline' after 6am. 9:48 call time is 'a go'. Put together 4 wardrobe changes as ordered. NO reds, whites, blacks, nice 'Sunday type' clothes. Showered and dressed in gray suit pants, carrying jackets and three other changes and shoes in wardrobe bags. Arrived at 'Extras Parking' on Claremore at 9:30am. Van ride to 'set' at the old church my family attended when younger.
On set 'holding' was still set up for catered breakfast. An excellent omelet, best I ever had, was professionally prepared after I picked out a bowl of ingredients and handed them to the Chef. I enjoyed it after signing in with Robert Baxter's casting crew, Rufus and Michael our trusty PA (production assistant) along with Brian. Brian confidently told all 66 of us, that there is a 200% chance we will 'see ourselves' somewhere in this scene. :>)
Tom, an old friend from many other film productions, along with a few other familiar faces greeted me. 66 'background' in attendance total, gathered in the 'fellowship hall' of the church on Wyoming blvd. After finishing the omelet and following our leader to wardrobe, my attire was certified and a 'four change' schedule was approved by Alison and Joy.
A wait for call to set, allowed leisure time to finish breakfast. The line-up for arrangement according to sex and color variation, then single file into the main auditorium followed, cell phones OFF. The cost for a session like this, is about $15,000 per hour, so no blunders are allowed. I noticed my first placement immediately, as the same exact area where my 'then young' family sat many long years ago as my young wife sang in the choir.
Our total of sixty six background, were moved around the various pews about 17 times, to present the appearance of a filled auditorium. Joe 'props' handed out the bibles. Using a random birth date selection by the background, the word 'Amen' was Que'd into the 'Noah, he Walked with God' dialog by Patrick Fabian.
The following 'False Prophets' verse, from what I gathered, was starting to present a negative depiction of a Mr. Blanchard, which NO RESPECTABLE CHURCH LEADER WOULD EVER DO. But..HEY this IS Hollywood and today ANY perception is accepted as fact by the gullible viewing public, no matter how in error it is, in reality.
The next several hours were repeats using a 'count of ten' system to duplicate the random 'Amen' and the nod after Patrick say's "Let's Pray". Several wardrobe changes and many moves to various pews, using the over size Green Screen
NEVER believe any camera depiction you see on the news or anywhere. Anything can be 'Virtually' manipulated to represent anything the camera director desires to present. Remember the computer enhanced, Virtual Coliseum scene in Gladiator
01 September 2009:
Call from Robert Baxter, "Are you available for Ben's Han double? Yes, when "Tomorrow 7 am". Dart confirmed the call time later that evening. Did not tell them I shaved off my 'Dennis Hopper' beard and mustache. These are 'tight' camera shots so no problem..I hope.
02 September 2009:
Drove to Bernalillo after waking at 5 am for 20 mile drive, arrived at 6:30 am just in time to have catering prepare another great omelete with my hand picked ingredients. Michael signed me in at 7 am and Jena in wardrobe (Joy was there as well) supplied me with a pair of dress pants, black shirt and black jacket. Michael took me to set and the table was already prepared with a lighted cigar, ash tray, and a Brandy. 'Props' placed the Timex watch on my wrist as before. Jena handed me the shirt and jacket to wear. I sat on my crate.
A couple of camera adjustments and one serious table move later, I was set down on my wooden crate once again, to hold the one picture at the perfect angle like Dennis Hopper held it. Looking at his own hands, I see how rough they appear. His nails are not at all smooth and his hand skin is pretty mottled and bumpy. Sorry to say, but I see why he requires a Hand Double.
The actual 'insert' took only about a minute or more to shoot. The director held my shoulders and moved me around to get the 'action' required during the few minutes of holding the picture still. They wanted the 'shoot' to be over with in ten minutes. I was actually finished and signed out within about 50 minutes total. That was a 'first'. Usually a long wait is in order for these 'inserts'.
Pretty Jena, whom I recognized from Comanche Moon in 2006 (she worked Catering at that time), quickly retrieved the black shirt and jacket before I got them dirty and sweatty. 'Props' retrieved the Timex watch with the leather band. No ring this time?
Michael signed me out for one hour today. I hope I get paid more than $9 for the time overall, including drive from home to studio and back. Surely a Hand Double gets compensated better? sometimes yes, sometimes no, depending on mood of the accounting office?
Oh well, the fuel was $2.39 at the Sandia Casino gas station on the Res. That was good for a fill up cheap, as I passed by.
As before, 'Stand By' for any further calls. Not many weeks left in Crash TV 2..
Oh well, that's 'Background' life, in this Free 'One Nation Under God, The United States of America'