Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Getting to be a movie extra an unstoppable experience

When news spread about the major motion picture “Unstoppable” filming in my hometown, I won’t lie, I had visions of stardom.

I pictured myself running alongside Denzel Washington toward the runaway train, hopping aboard and saving the day. Of course the director would immediately spot me in the crowd, notice my potential and order the screenwriter to add me to the script.

That said, I wasn’t among those who mulled whether or not they would attend the open casting call for extras. My husband and I printed out giant 8 x 10 headshots and were in line an hour before they were even supposed to start accepting applications.

Afterward, we went to breakfast and celebrated the casing director writing “COP” on Jerry’s form.

We figured we were in for sure.

So when almost everyone we knew got called and we didn’t, it was hard not to be a little disappointed. OK, a lot disappointed.

Conversations of sitting in the front row on opening night and buying the movie on Blu-ray turned to discussions of boycotts.

We tried to be excited for our friends, enjoy the helicopters flying over our house and listen to tales of explosions, but deep down, we knew we were missing out.

The next day, the phone rang.

Our home caller ID read: UNSTOPPABLE.

I couldn’t answer it. I nervously handed it over and listened intently as my husband’s half of the conversation got more and more detailed.

We were in!

They wanted me to be a TV news reporter and Jerry to be my cameraman. They could have told us to dress in our underwear and hold a toilet plunger, and I think we would have agreed.

We were asked to bring four outfits each so someone from wardrobe could select something appropriate, and be at the designated meeting location at 6 a.m. Normally I would cringe at having to get up at 4:30 a.m. in order to account for showers and travel time, but in this case, I wasn’t sleeping anyway.

The experience was everything I thought it would be. Sure, there was a lot of waiting and even some confusion at times, but I loved every second of it.

I signed a form agreeing not to give any details about the scene we shot that day, and because I value my freedom, I’ll stick to it.

But I can say it was exhilarating.

After a hot breakfast and stops at tractor-trailers and tents posing as wardrobe, props, and hair and makeup, we were bused over to the set and given a brief explantion of the scene we would be shooting for the day.

I didn’t get to run alongside Denzel, but he stood about 15 paces from me the entire day. It took all of my restraint not to geek out and ask if he would pose for a picture with me, but I took a cue from everyone around me and respected his personal space.

The good news is that it’s the final scene of the movie, so it won’t end up on the cutting-room floor.

The bad news is that it’s the final scene of the movie, so I’ll be fidgeting and wishing I had a fast-forward button while I’m sitting in the front row on opening night.

I’m not ready to quit my job and run off to Hollywood just yet, but if Denzel calls asking me to hold a toilet plunger in his next movie, I’ll do it.


Anonymous said...

That's so exciting, Kelly. I can't wait to see it! Years ago, The Pelican Brief was filmed in our neighborhood in Washington, DC. We got to see Denzel Washington for a split second as he stepped from a scene and said, "Howdy, folks" to all of us swooners. (The man who was then the director of the FBI lived down the block and even he came to watch.) You have amazing restraint and professionalism! Can't wait to see your scene. And what a treat that will be for Allison to see and show her friends- her cool parents - in a movie! With Denzel! Teme

Janice said...

That's so exciting!

Kristin said...

That's SO exciting.
I don't normally like Denzel Washington, but since you're in it, you can be damn sure I'll be watching that movie(:

Erica said...

SO AMAZING! And I love that the Caller ID read UNSTOPPABLE. I wish I could make that my caller ID. Can't wait for it to come out!

the_plainsman said...

Fun to read more about it, at least as much as you could tell us without killing us.

With the opening date so far ahead, think you and Jerry should do two more movies in the interim to build your new "extra" careers after the premier of Unstoppable!

In fact, then the tabliods will begin referring to you both as "That Unstoppable Couple!

Ray said...

Loved this line, "They could have told us to dress in our underwear and hold a toilet plunger, and I think we would have agreed." =P

And I can't wait to see you and Jerry on the big screen. This is SO cool! =D

KerryLee said...

That's so cool!! Can't wait to see your big debut!

Cece said...

I loved how the caller id said unstoppable. I cant not wait for the movie to come out to see the scene. Congrats!