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Special Movie Journal No. 1

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I'M SO FLIPPIN MAD!!!! I just wrote loads on here, then god knows what I pressed but I deleted it all. So forgive me if the start of this is perhaps rushed and frustrated! AAAAAAHHHH!!!

I had to leave home at 5:45am on my first day of shooting to be at the studio for 7:30am. I had to get 3 different busses, but it all went smoothly. I arrived at the nearest bus stop to the studio, but was then ushered into the back of a van and driven for 30 seconds to the main gates for the studio. It seems I was being treated as an A-list already as it was only a 5 minute walk!

I was stood in a car park/ lorry depot looking place, much like good ole 3663. There were several marquees set up in which I had to sign in. I signed in with an English guy called Joe who was a "wrangler" which is someone who keeps the extras in check and does a lot of SSSSHHHHHH-ing when we're on set.
Then I went to the wardrobe department to see if the shirt and trousers I was already wearing were acceptable. The old ladies up their said they were. I then went to the food tent and ate a breakfast of sausage, egg and potatoes which is what I then had every morning without fail.
I went back to sit in the "present day holding tent" on my own because several cliques had already formed.
I decided to form the "loner clique".
I then had to line up to get my hair and make-up checked, and thankfully no make-up was needed and only a tiny shave at the back of my head was done. All around, people, mainly girls, where having their hair styled etc.
We all sat around for maybe an hour until we were called outside into the carpark, and then stood side by side so the main wardrobe woman could quickly check us all over before we went on set.
There were about 150 people to check. Maybe more.
When she was done, one of the A.D's (assistant directors) stood on a stool with a megaphone, and gave us a quick introduction with a few instructions and rules, mainly "no talking on  set" which it turned out was impossible.

So then we made our way into the high ceiling-ed warehouse type building towards the set. On the way in, some people where given fake drinks to have with them and other casino type items such as candy floss (?), buckets of quarters for slot machines, and cuddly toys etc. Turns out there was a giant 60 foot high green screen at one end of the casino because they will later super-impose a funfair into the film! Now the candy floss and toys make more sense right?
So there was lots going on obvisously, and basically we all had to stand around waiting to be given a place to stand/walk and possibly some directions like laughing, high 5's, pointing and other really embarresing stuff.

I was moved about 3 or 4 different times before it was settled as to what I was to do in the first scene. This was obviously not a strange thing as it was happening to everyone. I was speaking to a Polish Canadian called Sebastian who was an "actor" with a small moheekan hair do, and he seemed ok, but I later decided he was a tit. He did however clue me in to a few things, and pointed out the director, Chris Columbus, and some of the main actors. I was then moved towards the green screen and given my directions. I had to laugh and talk to this girl called Romeena I think, and then 3 others would walk over to us and we'd split off from them walking towards the funfair and pointing out how great it was. They kept saying that it was "the most amazing thing we'd ever seen" which grew old to hear very quickly I assure you.
A few rehearsals were done with the actors walking right up behind us, then the director pointed out that he didn't like my shirt (and a few others shirts) and we were swiftly removed and had clothes replaced. I ended up with a nice long sleeved olive green shirt, which I fear may blend in and make me harder to spot when I inevitably buy the film on blueray for extra clarity!

So I'd say we shot 4-5 scenes everyday over the 6 days. We were on our feet pretty much the whole time which was painful, though more so for the girls! We were going back and forth between the set and the holding tents, though I didn't spend much time in the tents cos it was soooo hot all the time. I found a chair in the shade by the studio most days. There was always food and drink available which was really good, though a few times I overheard some of the more poncey background performers complaining and this just made me hate them.
I met a few planks, but equally a few nice people including a French film student called Olivier, Kyle Cornell who did film at school, a girl that I climed Grouse mountain with randomly, and a few others who were worth saying hello to. There were a fair few who would not have given me the time of day, but I enjoyed watching them compete with each other and occasionally try and talk to some of the more important people on set, as to try and act like they were more than just extras, but more often than not they would be told to be quiet and that they were too busy to talk. Simple pleasures for me!

So early on in the first scene, an important looking woman came over to me and started looking at my face and back of head, and then told me to go with her....it turns out this was because I was possibly going to be used as a "photo double" for the leading boy (Logan Lerman). I believe that this role involves standing where the actor has to stand during rehearsals so the actor (lazy) doesn't have to. My wage would have shot from $10 an hour, to $25, but I was shot down as I followed this woman, and told to go back to where I was. That was my one chance!

Later that day, Olivier offered me a ride home (his girlfriend was picking him up and they only lived 10 blocks away) so I was relieved I didn't have to public transport it all the way home.
My first day was 14 hours of work, then 13, 13, 12, 9 then 9. I was glad for the rides home as the days were so long! I hardly saw Anne for the entire time as I would go straight to bed.

So I'm having trouble remembering in order now. The first day was good, but the second was much more interesting as there was a fight scene! I was positioned at a craps table, and the scene had the main characters running through the casino, fighting with security, then getting into a prize car and escaping through a glass door.
I spent almost 3 days at this craps table. Joking with Kyle and a gay south african called Daniel. I learnt how to flip poker chips in my fingers (I'll have to show you when I come home) and had a laugh.
There was also a scene in a computer arcade where I got to stand pretending to play super mario brothers which was a great, guaranteed to be on camera position, but once again, Mr Columbus thwarted me, and asked for "that guy" to be swapped for someone from the 80's. (there were varying era's of costumes there from 50's to present day).

Everyday we'd have lunch at 2 or 3. We had bbq chicken, beef stew, mac n cheese, chicken kievs, pork chops, salad, puddings and muffins, sandwichs which were really nice, crispy creme doughnuts, rock cakes, crisps/chips, danishes and more. I definately put on weight!

I'm lost again so I'll just write the interesting bits. For the last few days, I was in scenes with Kyle. When I say in scenes, sometimes we'd be so far away from the camera that there is no chance of being scene so don't get your hopes too high mum, though I did my best.
Anyway me and Kyle kept each other entertained speaking mock English/Canadian at each other.
On the penultimate day, there was a scene where the actors have got into the prize car (which is a Maserati on a rotating platform), and they drive it off at high speed out of the casino.
So this was a big stunt day. Somehow Kyle and I got positioned in a perfect place to watch the action. There was a big safety talk by the choreographer, and after ages, we got under way.
The lead A.D. would shout "background", which would set us in motion, followed by "platform" to start the car rotating, and then of course "action". So we're all miming our surprise and confusion that these kids have got into the car, and then security runs over to try and stop them escaping, then low and behold, the car wheelspins on the platform and I thought "he's gone way to early", and the car comes crashing off the platform about 35 degress too early smashing into a mock marble pillar!!! I couldn't beleive it! Noone was hurt, but the pillar was and later had to have a plant moved in front of the damage thus spoiling continuity!
It was really crazy and unfortunately I don't think it will make the bloopers of the dvd as it looks a little too serious, but nonetheless, I'm really glad I saw it, as some missed it completely!
Well that was the most exciting thing that happened. I didn't schmooze with Brosnan which was annoying, but I'm glad I did it. I'm sure there's loads I've forgotten, but it'll all come out either before, or when we come home. I borrowed some bits from the set so I have proof for you!

We had an interesting weekend just gone, but I'll get Anne to write that on here as I'm all typed out for now.
Hope all is well back home, and I'll talk to you soon.

James x




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James' movie career

Burnaby, Vancouver, Canada



Home Service done the smart way