Hey folks, Harry here with a set report from an Extra that's been lucky enough to be cast as an extra officer on Oliver Stone's WORLD TRADE CENTER. I really love how this film seems to not be being all about rhetoric, but one particular story of heroics, true to life, that happened amidst the chaos, tragedy and horror of that day. Here ya go...
Hey Mori, Harry, Quint, et al...
My friend Mikey worked as an extra on the set of World Trade Center last week and just happened to blog about it. He got up close and personal with the Ground Zero set and happened to say hi to Oliver Stone and be in the presence of real 9/11 heroes. Lucky bastard. Anyway, he asked me if I would submit this for him for your approval with his full consent to post should you feel it worthy enough. Thanks!
Here goes it:
Yesterday was my first day as an extra on a giant, whompin', big-time movie. I'm an extra in the Oliver Stone film WORLD TRADE CENTER.
I signed up to be an extra because I'm totally tapped. Two moves and no real job for several months has taken a hell of a toll. So I figured until my full-time gig is in full swing out here, I'll be an extra.
Getting into the extra casting agency and all that was quite boring. Needless to say, they sign up anyone because all types are needed at one time or another for background. "Background" is the dehumanizing term they use for the people that stand or walk around and have no lines. It makes you sound more like a plant or filing cabinet than a walkin' talkin' non-famous person.
That being said, I think regularly-working extras have it made, for here was my day...
I had to be at the set at 3:30.
At 3:15 I arrived at the Universal/Paramount lot near Marina Del Rey. They checked my name at the gate and directed me to a parking lot next to a giant white (heated) tent, in which I was about to spend the next five hours.
There was a line to sign in and that ate up about 25 minutes. I was given a "group" for wardrobing and props. The scene is the evening of September 11th when they actually pull the last few survivors out of the rubble, but more on that later.
From 4:00 to about 5:30 about 80 or 90 of us just chatted, read, played cards or ate from what I thought was the lunch craft services table. While it was a craft services, it wasn't lunch. But it was a very nice spread with fresh fruit, good coffee, muffins, gourmet cookies and granola bars. That's there all the time for the extras.
About 5:30 or so my group was called. There are people cast as firemen, Emergency services working, NY Port Authority, doctors, construction workers, uniformed NYPD and plain clothes NYPD. I was the last category.
I went to wardrobe and they found some fat guy pants, a dark red plaid shirt and a work-area helmet. Just outside the wardrobe area I was directed by a PA to a couple make-up tables. A couple really nice and sarcastic middle-aged chubby women applied make-up to make me look dirty and sweaty. Back to the white tent with me.
I had met a guy named Justin who just moved here from Boston. We were the youngest two guys in the tent by about 10-15 year on the average, so we hung out the rest of the day and gabbed to pass the time. Justin was also plain-clothed NYPD so that meant we got called at all the same times.
A little while later we were told to go to the prop department by group. Justin was given a pair of gloves, a breathing mask and a flashlight. I got the gloves, mask, and a chain-around-the-neck style cop badge. Bad-ass! I'm a freakin' sergeant!
My badge looked really real. I told Justin that I suspect some of us would be pretty close to the camera because my badge was a Hero-prop level prop. I know they make cheap aluminum badges that are pretty much just the shape of the badge for deeper background props. However mine was totally badass.
We chatted about all sorts of crap until about 6:40 or so. We hadn't really done anything but get dressed and it was 1/2 for lunch. The buffet was as good as any average-quality wedding buffet and there was plenty for everyone. I didn't have much because I can stay on my diet with the fruit from the snacks table.
Finally around 8:45, we were driven to the set. The set was probably about 300 yards away but they loaded us up into shuttles and drove us over there.
The set was -not to sound gay- breathtaking. It was an enormous, 100-yard square reproduction of ground zero for the evening of the 11th. We were standing around in groups waiting to be told what to do and this is where I lucked out. "You, you and you come with me". A production manager? told me and two other guys to follow him after a quick scanning of the 30 or 40 faces in front of him.
We walked up a cleverly concealed path up the tower of rubble. At the very top is the hole where one of the main characters is pulled out of the rubble after 13 hours of searching. All the extras form two shoulder-to-shoulder lines up the path of the rubble to the hole. The vast majority of extras are much deeper in the background, filling out the rest of the line.
When the guy is put on a strecher, he's passed down the line of firemen, NYPD, Red Cross and construction workers. They only pass him down about 30 or 40 rows of people before they cut. I'm the 16th person in line from the edge of the hole.
We did only two takes with the camera on a crane and then two takes with the background redressed for the wide shots which was a two-camera ordeal.
In between these sets of takes there was another break for food or coffee. They had In and Out burger, soup, fruit, and gormet coffee with a barista attendant. The poor, poor extras.
About ten minutes before the first crane shot, Oliver himself came out from behind a little blind they had the the muckity-mucks and walked to the top to do who knows what. He walked right by me within cock-punching distance. He stopped to talk to talk to one of the exras who was playing a fireman two guys down from me.
They had a hushed conversation which included another fireman. While I could only hear about 30% of it, it was enough to figure out that those firemen weren't extras...they were the real frickin' NY firemen that pulled the people out of the rubble on 911. Oliver seemed to be asking about certain nuances of how a couple things really were. Shit. I really respect that. Poop.
I was all ready to think Mr. Conspiracy Pants was a real ass. On top of it all, he chatted up the extras as he passed by us all and thanking us for our patience and doing such a good job that it only took two takes.
Granted I was only exposed to him for about five minutes, but the five minutes of Oliver Stone that I saw seemed to be a good guy.
My call time today is 4:00, so I've got to beat feet.
Today the camera is supposed to pass by us for close-ups of the extras. Let's see just how lucky I get again.
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