Friday, September 11, 2009

Breakdown of the Background

Since I started doing background people keep leaving me Facebook messages saying "I can't wait to see you!" Well, by definition, you probably won't! Frankly, I hope you don't! But who knows...

Usually background actors are blurry busybodies required to make a setting seem realistic. In restaurant scenes we're often instructed to walk right in front of the camera to make a black silhouette for a moment, as if the characters are on a hidden camera show. For indoor scenes in which the camera sees out the window background actors are used to walk along the sidewalk and drive their cars on the street! Those aren't real pedestrians or motorists! Other times, background actors get their whole face on the screen, in focus, for a brief "reaction shots." No, they don't tell us when they use us in that capacity, but if it's for more than three seconds they're supposed to pay us more or credit us, or something!

In my two months of doing background, there have only been a couple times when I think I might be recognizable. With the new network season starting next week, here's a rundown of what I've done:

Big Love
In a brown suit, I was one of many business types walking in an office/courtyard/lunch environment in a scene with Bill Paxton, Matt Ross and a guest star. I have no idea how HBOs schedule runs or what episode it was.
On location in Pasadena.

The Sarah Silverman Program - Comedy Central
I follow Sarah on Twitter, but have never seen her show; I want to start! Hilarious! I don't want to give the scene away, but it involved a wedding on the steps of (the real) LA City Hall. First I was just someone going into the building; you might see my bright teal shirt, especially since I was walking with a girl in red. Then I was seated right in front of the four lead characters during a political inauguration, in a dark suit.
On location, Downtown, Los Angeles.

The Forgotten - new on ABC
I was a sports bar waitress in an episode called "Football Joe." It's technically the third episode, but will be the fourth time the show airs if you count the pilot. You might see me in one or two scenes waiting tables at "Original Nates."
New York Street, Warner Bros. Studios, Burbank.

Flashforward - new on ABC
I was an attendant in an art gallery where Christine Woods and Navi Rawat had a scene; you might see me in a lovely teal dress. I was also in a restaurant scene they had, but likely just a blur.
On location in Hollywood.

Heroes - NBC
All I know is that we were outside a diner in Texas and at one point I think I saw Masi Oka in a hospital gown. Later he was talking to a red headed girl. In three different scenes I walked up and down the street, pretty far from the camera, in a light paisley shirt and jeans.
On location in San Fernando.

Valentines Day
This is a Gary Marshall film with an insane cast! I was "deep background" in a restaurant scene with Topher Grace and Anne Hathaway. I even sat with my back to the camera, being paid to eat my delicious dessert, so there's no way you'll see me!
On location at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel, Beverly Hills.

CSI: New York - CBS
I am wearing a black dress in a crowd of people watching a card hustler on the street when Malina Kanakaredes and (the super cute) Eddie Cahill come to arrest him.
On location in Hollywood.

Mad Men - AMC
Although I was dressed to the nines, I don't think the camera saw me, but who knows. It's a scene at a fancy banquet for the anniversary of the company and I think one of the leads becomes a partner or board member or something to that effect... My black and green evening gown was covered with a tan mink and my hair's in a fabulous 60s updo!
On location at the Biltmore Hotel, Downtown, Los Angeles.

Accidentally on Purpose - new on CBS
I was in two scenes of the first episode in this hilarious new Jenna Elfman comedy. (It may be the second show to air this fall if they replay the pilot.) In a cute brown jacket and hat I sat near the three lead ladies in a cafe. I don't recall what I wore in the club scene, but you'll probably see me standing, talking to a cute guy, while the ladies sit at the bar.
CBS Radford Studios, Studio City.

Bones - FOX
In episode three Tamara Taylor has two scenes with her on screen niece (I think). When they're sitting at the counter, in a diner, you might see me at a table behind them. I think I was in the same trendy brown jacket mentioned above.
New York Street, 20th Century FOX Studios, Century City.

Criminal Minds - CBS
In an episode in which the team travels to Louisville, Kentucky I was a "clerk" at the Louisville police station, delivering files to the officers at their desks. I was so uncomfortable during this three day shoot in a hideous tan sweater (issued by the wardrobe lady) that did not at all match my gray trousers. Its not about what the nameless character on TV looks like, but I wanted to tell everyone I met in real life, on set, that I didn't pick it!
Quixote Studios, Los Angeles.

Raising the Bar - TNT
In one of the later episodes of their current season I'll be a patron at the pub they always go to after work. You might see me at the bar in a cream blouse, a person away from Mark-Paul Gosselaar and Jonathan Scarfe.
Riverfront Stages, Sylmar.

Numb3rs - CBS
First I was a patron of a farmers market for a 10 second scene with Peter MacNicol. There were no lines, he just smells some berries; I was in a light blue strapless dress. Then I changed to a rioter in a colorful tee and gray hat and scarf in a scene with the guest star standing on a police car shouting into a megaphone.
Los Angeles Center Studios, Downtown, Los Angeles.

CSI: Miami - CBS
I was in two different scenes in an episode that flashes back to the 90s. First, in a gray suit, I walked into the Dade County Police Department as David Caruso and another actor did a "walk and talk" away from it. Then I was in the lab in a black FBI jacket doing paperwork with other lab techs while Caruso, Eva La Rue and Sophina Brown had dialogue at the front of the lab.
Raleigh Studios, Manhattan Beach.

Dollhouse - FOX
I worked the very first episode of the new season; although my party dress was bright red, I doubt you'll see me. I was in the back of a garden party of rich people in a 15 second scene in which Eliza Dushku and Amy Acker kiss (I think).
20th Century FOX Studios, Century City.

Brothers and Sisters - ABC
I don't know the episode but Calista Flockhart and Rob Lowe will be at the Griffith Observatory for some sort of event. As they're interviewed by the press, you may see me walking in a lovely teal dress with a gentleman in tan.
ABC/Disney Studios, Burbank, to the Griffith Observatory.

Californication - Showtime
I worked this show twice, as a patron in the restaurant the main characters frequent. In dark purple, you might see me over Evan Handler's shoulder as he waits with Pamela Adlon to hear from their realtor. Then in the very last episode of the season Evan Handler and David Duchovny had a really funny scene at the bar and I think I was in a dark gray shirt.
Stages somewhere in Venice...?

Iron Man 2
I was one of literally 300 people attending "Stark Expo" and then running in horror from the attacking drones. I can almost guarantee you won't see me... but I was wearing the trendy brown jacket that I've discovered wardrobe people love, my cute brown hat and jeans.
On location at Sepulveda Dam, Van Nuys and Los Angeles Performing and Visual Arts High School, Downtown.

While I've worked on all the major networks and a few popular cable channels, I've only been to two big studios. I can not wait to work on my lot, Universal, as well as Sony and Paramount!

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