Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Feeling Cinematic History. . .

The current extra work I have been doing on the TV show Dirt has given me my first opportunity to work at Paramount Studios. A couple of days ago, I noticed small display cases posted outside of each of the sound stages. For example, one of the pictures I took with my cell phone is the case outside Stage 11 which was serving as the "extras holding area."

While the photo isn't easy to read, it shows a list of films shot on Stage 11 over the years. It includes Son of Paleface (1934), Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961), and Ship of Fools(1962). At the bottom, it states that this stage was constructed in 1929.

Reading this display case put a whole new perspective on my experience. As much as extras tend only to be window dressing for the central action being filmed, I had a feeling of becoming part of film, or in this case TV, history. I thought about the many cinematic stars who had passed through this same space and how much I enjoyed seeing many of the films listed there. I felt part of something much bigger than the small part I was playing in one episode of a TV series.

Then, yesterday we were shooting on Stage 30. As the extras left the set, we were diverted to an exit one stage over. When we came out, I saw the door and awning pictured below. We were leaving through the entrance to the set for the Dr. Phil show. Apparently they were not shooting there this week. But again, there was that feeling of being part of a larger entity, the entertainment industry if you will.

A final impression that also comes from this week's work. On Monday morning and afternoon, we were shooting a scene outside the theatre on the Paramount lot. It was near the front gate where striking members of the Writers' Guild (WGA) were picketing the studio. There was the constant din of car and truck horns as passing drivers signaled their support for the writers. The noise was good to hear and reflected what virtually every actor I know feels about the strike and our hopes that it is settled soon with a fair deal for the writers.

I am recalled for tomorrow which should be my last day on this particular job. And I'm still wearing the tuxedo and pretending to be a studio executive. I wonder what lies ahead next.

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