One of the reasons I grew up wanting to be in films, or work in them, was somewhat tied to the fact that I would get to travel all over the world shooting movies. The reality that not everything is at it seems hit home only last week, when I was asked to be a “featured extra” in the movie South Dakota, which was being filmed in Iowa, for a scene that takes place in Philadelphia. (how is that for convoluted?)
Thursday was the big day, and my call time was set for 8PM at the Spaghetti Works in Downtown Des Moines. In the morning I received a call from the extras casting people that it had been moved up to 5pm, so I left work a little bit early to get there at around 4:30PM. I parked my car at the Iowa Cubs parking lot, and took one of the production shuttles downtown to Java Joes, where they were going to be having dinner.
I met a few people from the production, including the extras people, and also met my co-extra, Randy from Waukee, who went through the dinner line with determination. I however, decided not to go through the line, mainly since I was nervous about driving the Mercedes, worrying if it was a manual transmission. (Hey, I don’t know cars.) Eventually the entire crew filed in, ate, and one by one went back to the set to continue working. Randy and I remained at the table we were sated at, and eventually it was just us and two other people who we would come to know as “good looking couple.”
Over the next few hours, Randy and I would talk with Good Looking Couple about a variety of subjects, just trying to stay awake as another hour ticked off the clock. It was cold and rainy, but at least we were dry and warm sitting in the Fourth Street Theater adjacent to Java Joes. At around 9PM, we were told to go to the set, so we took off down the street.
Did I mention Randy and I were supposed to be “Mafioso?”
When we arrived at the set, my fears were calmed by the director telling Randy that Randy not only had to smoke a cigar, but would be driving the car. I had mixed feelings, as this obviously meant Randy was the main subject of the scene, but hey, that can be a good thing too. So over the next 2 1/2 hours we repeated a sequence of coming out of the restaurant, me opening an umbrella and locking the door, us both getting into the Mercedes, him dropping a cigar, and us driving off.
It was fun to be on a movie set again, and it is very contagious. The police had set up barricades on Court avenue, and at times there was a crowd standing there, wondering what was going no. It was an interesting feeling having a crowd watch *you* doing a scene, then watching you get out of a car, wondering if you were “somebody.”
When we were done, I had to turn in my overcoat and shoes that were provided by the costume department in order to get my payment voucher. I took the shuttle back to the parking lot and thankfully made it home without falling asleep.
All in all, filming South Dakota really felt like working on a production in Los Angeles again. Both it and Duck Farm No. 13 were fun, but it was evident that South Dakota had a higher budget. I think I read somewhere that Duck Farm No. 13 had $250-$500,000 budget and South Dakota is 2.5-$3 million. Iowa is getting a lot of motion picture action lately due to increased tax incentives for production. No doubt about it, as long as they want me to keep being in them, I’m always available… unless it’s a major crowd scene.
Just not interested in doing those any more. But luckily there are always others who are willing to.
So major thanks to Deb Copeland of Copeland Creative Talent for the opportunity to work on the film for the day.
I’ll keep you posted on the release dates, etc as I can.