Thursday, February 23, 2017

STRICTLY ON BACKGROUND, PT. 6: ELEMENTARY

My first extra work of 2017 was the second appearance on Elementary. I guess I did such a bang-up job the first time, they asked me to reprise my role as "pedestrian walking against the wind."

As with my very first extra job, I took the N train to Astoria, Queens. Only that time, it was a warm, sunny, summer day. Now it was a cold, dark, winter's morning (an hour before sunrise) with snow on the ground. This TV stuff isn't all glamour, you know. 


Riccardo's on a Kodachrome film-noir evening.
It was a 10  minute walk from the Astoria Boulevard station to the holding area, a catering facility called Riccardo's By the Bridge -- the bridge formerly called the Triborough, now officially renamed after the New York Senator whose older brother's sexual cast-offs included Marilyn Monroe. 

The crew and the p.a.'s, always the first on site, were huddled around the craft services truck. Most of the women on these early calls go for the oatmeal, granola or fruit with a cup of tea, while the guys dive headfirst into a bacon & egg on a roll with a coffee. What some people refer to as sexual stereotypes, I call human nature.

Having eaten a small bowl of cereal almost two hours earlier, I went for the aforementioned Guy's Special. Normally, I drink decaf, but try waking before dawn in early January -- see how far you make it without a jolt of the real thing.

It was still dark when I entered Riccardo's, so it was kind of a shock when we were brought outside an hour or so later. Now that the sun was up, the neighborhood appeared normal, rather than something out of a '50s suspense picture. 

The p.a.s went to work on us, putting us in our spots a block from Riccardo's. Some were placed on the sidewalk where Elementary star Jonny Lee Miller was walking. Some were on the corner, behind Miller, walking crosswise to the camera. 

Then there was me.
Jerry tries to prove he can
walk without Dean's help.

I was placed alone across the street and told to walk west, i.e., away from the camera, when time came. This was in every way the antithesis of my first 
Elementary appearance. They knew, beyond doubt, I was not only a muti-talented entertainer, but didn't need a sidekick, either. This explains the break-up of Martin & Lewis.   

Although the sun was up, the thermometer hadn't budged much past 30. (For you Californians, that's not a typo.) I dressed for the occasion, with thermals being the least of it. All of us were given hand warmers to put inside our gloves. If you live in a cold clime, pick up a carton of these at your local outdoor accouterments store -- your hands will thank you. It's like holding miniature campfires in your palms.

We were given orders to stand in place, facing west, making us resemble less like actors and more like human Easter Island statues. On the shout of "Background!", we walked, and kept going around the corner away from the camera, until we heard, "Reset!".  Rinse, lather, repeat, for the next couple of hours. 

While they set up another scene, we were ushered inside a parking garage to get warm. Jonny Lee Miller did likewise, scrolling through his iPhone just like you or me. (Well, you; I still use a flip phone.) But he somehow looked cool doing it. 

The second scene, shot in a traffic jam around the corner, took another couple of hours. This time, I walked east. Like I said, multi-talented.

Unlike my Elementary debut, you couldn't see anything of my face in the first scene.



For me, the bridge, looming in the background, is the real star. Being a professional, I made sure not to steal the scene from the gentleman on the right -- just a normal stroll down a snowy street on a typical January morning. And I did it all by myself.

As for the second scene? I'm afraid I didn't make the final cut. Too bad. You should have seen how I handled walking east. By myself. Genius.

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