The sun had not even thought about rising when the alarm jarred me awake on Saturday morning at 3:20 am. I had to get dressed and get on the road to meet at a random parking lot at 5 am. See, I had signed on to be an extra in a Carnival Cruise commercial shooting in Philadelphia over the past weekend. A friend and neighbor of mine had signed on as well. We spent the night before packing bags in case we needed "cruise wear."
But she called at 4:30 am to say she couldn't do it. I don't blame her. I knew we would spend 12 -14 hours at the shoot and she has children and stuff to do. So, I dumped out her cup of coffee, left a note for Brian apologizing for taking the car, decided against bringing my cruise wear, and left. I have kids and stuff to do as well but I have always wanted to see what it would be like to be on the set during the filming of a movie. A commercial is close enough and I wasn't sure if I would get another chance.
It's very odd the way they cast you for a commercial. First, I saw the notice for background work on Heery Casting's website. Then I sent in a photo via e mail. Someone from the office called and asked if I would be available. When I said yes, instead of giving me the details, the guy told me to check the website on Friday night and he gave me a password. Checking the website I discovered that the call time was 5 am. It gave me second thoughts, I'll tell you that.
Traffic was non-existent at 4 am (I wonder why?) so I made good time to the parking lot. So odd, passwords and secret meeting spots --are they filming a commercial or starting a cult?
I parked my car and stood in line to board the bus when I saw Jim, one of the spot ops from Candide. It was so great to find a familiar face. His mom had spotted the ad for extras and encouraged him to attend. He wasn't too happy about 5 am either. At that point, I wonder if the early call was just a way to disorient us before indoctrination.
It got weirder: we drove to a street just off Broad and walked down a block and around a dark corner (the sun was sleeping in). We then crossed into a tent, barely set up with tables and chairs. The signs around the tent said, "Extras Holding" which at 5 am made me feel more like a thing and less like a person.
Jim and I found a table and proceeded to wait and wait and wait. No wonder my neighbor backed out. I was beginning to think she had the right idea. Of course, that was only the beginning....
To be continued.