Sunday, September 25, 2016

Lights, Camera, Action and 15 minutes of fame!

I love Kijiji, there are so many opportunities to get acting work

Below is what happen to me from May 26th –May 30th 2016


Then I responded to ad on Kijiji  for Matt Damon and Kristie Wig movie called Downsized that was filming in Toronto. Found it sort of odd they had posted the names and information, usually they don’t!


I got email back in a few days asking for my measurements, again weird and interesting. They I go an email to go to Pinewood Studios on Commissioner street  for a fitting on Saturday may 28th at 10:30am


So I cycled down and got a first had view of the studios. One word MASSIVE!  In the parking lot I saw signs for new XXX movie with Vin Diesel, Downsized, Extant and Stephen King movie IT and new star Trek movie filming in Toronto this fall. I  Was there little early so I chatted with a few extras waiting to be fitted, many of them did this part time while pursuing full time careers.
I got fitted very quickly and was sent away. I reported for background duty on Monday May 30th at 7:00am at the Enercare centre in Toronto (exhibition place) 


I was so excited that I couldn’t sleep!  I had so many thing going through my mind all night. Was I going to meet Matt Damon or Kristie Wigg?  Is it going to be a hurry up and wait type of day? Will we have opportunities to take pictures?

My alarm bell rang at 6:00am and I jumped out of bed!  I had prepared some snack, book and clothing for the day the previous evening.

It was beautiful morning and I was excited to cycle down from  the Annex area to the Exhibition Place and the Enecare Centre.

At that time in the morning there hardly any traffic going south towards that area, got here in less than half an hour. 

I locked my bike across the street and all I saw were green screens everywhere! Massive green screens. Talk about futuristic!

Walk toward the building and started to look for signs as to where to go. Kept walk west and finally made it to the area for background actors.  There lots more people who had early that me!  Lots of families, students and professionals.  I got in line and gradually made it to the desk where I was given a piece of paper to fill out and instructions as to where to go.

There were serving coffee, light refreshments and some breakfast food.

I went to wardrobe to get my clothing that I was measured for on Saturday and quickly changed into them. They went to the massive room with all the back ground actors and took a seated and waited. I looked around a saw a few people that I had seen at fitting on Saturday.

Few minutes later I saw friend of mine Chris Strongman local author and speaker I had known for a few years. We got sat down and I share the crazy 48hrs I had gone through. His answer was priceless “that’s Hollywood for you!”

We got settle in this huge room full of extras, lots of families with their kids, millennials, actors and lots of interest and amazing professionals and entrepreneurs.

They key thing I heard was you have is “hurry up and wait” was the common theme of the day.
We had some excitement in the morning where we pulled out and ask to various places to stand and wait while crew waited for decisions to be made by director and to be whisked away back to the holding area.

Luckily I had brought some reading materials and food to pass the time, that didn’t help I was excited to be on set a tried to take a peak and see what was happening.  I made few calls to friends to tell them  what was happening.

I sat on my table and got to meet and learn from some of the background actor who done some recent work with  Vin Deisel in upcoming  Triple XXX movie coming out in Summer 2017 called “Return of Xander Cage” and few other films shooting in Toronto.

Interesting part of  is that the director name is Alexander Payne who has filmed various movies form Sideways (2004) with Paul Giamatti and Thomas Haden Church, Virginia Madsen and Sandra Oh.
His original name is Alex Papadopoulos which his paternal grandfather changed to Payne.
This was great to know that a fellow Greek was director this movie. This will become important very soon! 

Keep reading….

AS they morning continued I had great conversation with Chris Strongman regarding his entrepreneurial pursuits in recent years and few other actors at our table.

Then at around 11:30am a magical moment happen that would change the day for good
I was talking to background actor when I go tap on the shoulder and turned around and go this statement “ Hi I am Alexander Payne, would you be interested in say few words in the film?”  I was shocked and couldn’t bring to say yes fast enough! 
 I said  “Yes!”

We began to walk toward the set and he said I was thinking some like“ We don’t have quarantine per say, we just don’t want any lice” we kept walking and I was listening.

We arrived on set and there was Matt Damon talking to some of the extras and Alex Payne and I were still practicing and figuring out the lines. 

The next 30 minutes happened so fast. 

First I whisked over to the script producer to have him type the lines into the script. Then I had an audio lady ask for permission to unzip my shirt and pants to pass through a recording mike down my pants!  I said “Sure go ahead”  

The make lady came by and dusted my forehead with some make up and there I was back on set taking directions from Alexander Payne this time in front of hundreds of other extras, producer and movie crew.

It was a long panning scene from Left to Right and I was at pet exhibit talking to group of pet lovers about animals and what would happen to them when we shrink them and their pets. 

It was very funny I had two ladies in their 70’s who were sisters, 7 year old girl who didn’t want to be there being consoled by her father (producer) and few other extras in the back row who laughing and looking interested in every world I said.

So it began repetition and waiting and repetition and waiting. After the 10th take Alexander Payne says “Jim cross your hands and just speak” I replied “work with me Alexander I am Greek I need to use my hands!”  He responds “if you can’t do I will do it myself and do a cameo”. I said “Okay I will do it give me a few seconds” and so we continued with lots of more takes which seemed like forever!  

I think we did like 35 takes before it was all over.  In the end Alexander Payne came over and said “Efxaristo” to me which means Thank you in Greek.

I was went back to the script producer and review my line and the movie crew to remove audio equipment. 

We all went back to the holding area and the energy at my table was over the top. They were happy for me and little irritated. I was informed that this doesn’t happen often that director comes in looking for background actors to say lines in film.

They I was brought some paperwork to fill out and was told “You have been upgraded” I said “what does that mean” I was advised by the other background actor that when you say lines in a movie you get paid extra. In this situation I get upgraded to Actra Apprentice and get more money!
So I filled out the paperwork and continued on with the day. I went out in the afternoon and did 3 more large scenes with background actors.

The last scene we did I had to mime my words to actors at my table, which was a very funny experience to do.

It was also was exciting experience for my friend Chris Strongman who got chosen to a scene very close to Matt Damon and Christine Wigg near the end of film shooting.
It was exciting and long day of filming to see Hollywood in action.
The story doesn’t end here just yet…

Few weeks later I got  cheque in the mail. I open up the check slowly and looked that number and proceed to close the envelope and take a deep breath for a few seconds. I then opened it up and looked at the number again. It was $1800!  WOW for less than 14 words, as Chris Strongman said “that’s Hollywood!” 

But wait there is more…

The next week I get another check in the mail.  It’s for $25, they paid me for the fitting I had Pinewood studios.

Stay tuned for the movie coming out December 2017

Moral of the story.   From a click on Kijiji can lead you to starring role in Hollywood!

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