Monday, April 09, 2012
Buddha's Birthday, Auditions, Extra Work
The past week has shot past like an asteroid, loaded with events.
There were holidays, of course: Buddha's Birthday at our zen center (photos here) and Easter at Sarah's church. Above, you see my two sons at the Buddha's Birthday ceremony. Having participated by offering flowers to Buddha, they both made for my lap when we sat down for a few minutes of meditation.
During the week, I was still absorbing the news that Ricardo and the Whale (a play I have been writing since 2008) will be performed this summer with Philip Proctor likely to be in the cast. Then came some news on the acting front.
It began with an audition. A very good audition. I don't know if I'm supposed to keep quiet about it, or maybe I'm falling into actors' superstition; it is a speaking role in a feature film playing the brother of the film's lead actor, a name actor whom I vaguely resemble. Not a large part, but quite decent, consisting of 2-3 scenes with said name actor. At this writing, I keep my phone within eyesight at all times.
The audition required a trip to Albuquerque, 240 miles from home. Happy to do it, of course. While I was in town, I got a call about another project. No audition for this one: a featured extra on The Host, an adaptation of Stephanie Meyer's one non-"Twilight" novel.
The agony of extra work for the actor! Typically, these credits do not even appear on a resume. Background work probably won't give you material you can use for your demo reel. When I've done background work, I haven't met many fellow actors -- lots of interesting people, but actors with established credits who are working stay away from background work.
"Featured extra" is a little bit better. Featured extras get more screen time, and might even act a bit although they do not speak. (Once you speak, you're no longer an extra.) The waitress who hands the film's star a sandwich in a scene is a featured extra; the silent cop who helps arrest the lead; all those guys holding down Sean Penn in that scene from Mystic River (including my old Trinity Rep friend, Richard Donnelly); those are featured extras. They get paid more than regular extras (who sometimes don't even get paid). Sometimes such a player gets an upgrade to a speaking role. And you might get to rough up Sean Penn.
Given my employment situation, I've been accepting extra work with gratitude, mostly on the USA Network show In Plain Sight. It pays at least as much as a temp office job would. Now, on The Host, I'm playing one of the extra-terrestrial "Souls" that inhabit the earth. There will be six days of work for me this month. Hi ho, hi ho, it's off to work I go.