Patrick will be starring in the Last Cyclist at the West End Theater this May - June. Click here for info

Thursday, November 4, 2010

15.5 hours barely any sleep

Oh background work.  I hate you!  We all do.  I have railed against it in the past and still do.  It is essentially pointless work.  Aside from the fact that there is always an abundance of food, and good food at that, there is no point to it.  It is a huge waste of time and something that should NEVER go on your resume.  Ever.  We'll talk about that in a few.  Sure it pays, peanuts. And if you've never been on a film shoot it is the best way to get an idea of what goes on.  But its still the worst aspect of film that I can think of.

I have this agreement with myself, and its shared with a dear friend of mine.  No background work except for a few exceptions.  1) I like the show.  And I like 30-Rock, so this past weekend I agreed to do some BG work when they called.  and 2) only if they call me in for SAG credit. (Think I'm going to devote an entire post to this soon so look for that.  There are sooooo many questions about it.  It's a bit to get into)

So thanks to option 1, I found myself at Silver Cup Studios both this past Friday and Monday mornings.  Don't get me wrong, it is fun in a way.  You're on a film/tv set. Even the most cynical actor who is trying to pretend they're not impressed, is impressed.  One of the biggest downsides is the waiting.  That's all you do.  Wait.  Friday got there at 9 and didn't get to set until 4 pm.  Yup.  That was the 14.5 hour day.  Monday I filmed early and then spent from about 2:30-12am doing nothing.  Nature of the beast I suppose.  And sure, I "met" Tina Fey.  Er...she said hello to me as we were getting coffee.  So that was something.  I don't get star struck, but I sure was impressed to be in the presence of comedic talent.

Some interesting things about doing BG work? You get to see the innards of a studio or film.  We were on a plane.  They had the body of a plane set up in the sound studio.  How often do you see something like that?  No, there are no pics.  HIGHLY unprofessional to take pics on set and of the actors.  Silly bloggers what were you thinking?

The other aspect, aside from the waiting, is the other BG extras.  This might sound mean or horrible or cruel but I usually keep to myself when I do these things.  First of all I have a huge audition coming up for summer Shakespeare Festivals.  So I was able to spend some time re-reading Henry V.  But also, I know this is a generalization, but extras can be very very..odd.  I feel like every shoot I've been on there has been at least one person kicked off for some random reason.  And the others are all about being seen.  Now, the point of BG is to NOT be seen.  You are glorified scenery.  Sure its fun to see yourself on tv if you can, but that's not the point of the work.  So those people who spend all day planning and plotting to get seen on camera...annoy me to no end.

This shoot was actually made up of some fairly fun people who for the most part got it and understood that this is just a job.  Nothing will come of this other than a paycheck and maybe some interesting stories.  There were a few people very new to the world of acting who pumped us all for information.  Its nice to sit at a table and just discuss eachother's adventures so far.  See what works for other people and what you can possibly adopt to help your career.

Of course the question of, "do I put this on my resume?", came up.  The answer to that question is always no. I don't care what the logic behind it is, it's always no.  I've heard people say it shows that they're working on current projects.  I've also heard people say any experience is good experience.  No no no no no.  Do not put BG work on your resume.  Why?  Anyone can do it.  Literally anyone.  Hence why there are always so many crazies.  It is also NOT acting.  Unless you count acting as scenery as acting.  Then sure.  But no, it should never go on your resume.  Not even featured extra.  Ye be warned.  It looks very unprofessional and is not an example of your work.

Now the big question, why even do BG work.  Well I mentioned earlier that we do it to try to get SAG credit. I promise to devote a whole blog post to this.  There is a lot to cover.  But the short of it is that one of the ways to become eligible to join sag is to do BG work and get 3 waivers.  (3 credits) to become SAG.  They don't just hand them out.  They're random. It is a crap shoot.  But you do it anyway in hopes you'll get it.  I have 2 out of the 3 so far. 2 I got from being called in directly for work on 2 films.  Sometimes it works that way, sometimes you get them the day you show up..surprise.  But still a crap shoot.

So that was my weekend.  BG work.  Yeah, i did it.  I'm not proud, but I'm not ashamed.  Its how you get your foot in the door.  It just takes forever and I'm still trying to catch up on sleep.  While Friday was 14.5 hours, Monday was 15.5,  blech!