About Time

It’s about time I updated this blog about my background experiences. I think I’ve been a little down lately and not in the mood to write. But here I am, ready to work and ready for my close up.

Mixtape

I recently had my third booking for Mixtape. This was originally a pilot for Fox and Netflix picked it up. Click here to see a video about this. Out of my three bookings for this show, I’ve only really liked one of them. That was the one I wrote about where I was in the conference room. This last one had us meeting in a parking lot and then going to a restaurant. It was a 4:30 pm call time which I do like because I am kind of a night owl. But my evening did not start out very well at all.

As I was turning in to the parking lot, I hit a curb pretty hard and blew out my tire. Well, actually my mom’s tire as I was borrowing her car. My husband had to fight rush hour traffic to come and put on the spare and he was not happy about it at all. So I was already upset about it but this made it even more upsetting. Ugh!

They took some extras over to the restaurant but left a few of us in the parking lot with a production assistant and someone from the casting agency. There were trucks with bathrooms and changing rooms but still, we were in a parking lot. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, you just never know what you’ll get so be prepared for anything. Finally, after three hours or so, they took us over and I was used for one scene. Yes, only one and it was with my back to the action. So not really very fun.

Another thing that kind of annoyed me was that I was told to bring outfits for an upscale, business like, after work type of restaurant/bar. Since I’ve been on this show before, I know that they’re particular about wardrobe so I brought a ton of options. But no, we get there and find out it’s a barbecue place and very casual–the kind where you order at the counter and the food comes out in those red plastic baskets. So my choices really didn’t fit the location at all. Gathering and packing all of your clothes for a booking can be kind of a pain as you’re never sure what they are going to want. I try and be super prepared because I don’t want to be that extra, the one who shows up with nothing good. Most of the time, I have found that they like my first choice that I am already wearing but I’ve had to change quite often as well. So it’s important to bring great options.

I hope I haven’t discouraged you from trying to be an extra. While this booking was not the best, some of them are just so fun that it makes it worth it. And that’s just life in the background.

Getting Busy in the Background

Thinks are starting to heat up and I’m getting busy in the background! This week I am working on three shows; CONRAD, Empire, and Mix Tape.

Getting Busy in the Background

My week started off with a booking for Chicago Med. With a 5:30 pm call time, I thought, “Oh no, it is going to be a late one!” But I was wrong. Just as I’ve said before, you never know what to expect. In fact, they didn’t even use me at all. I sat there for 3 Getting Busy in the Background holding

On set for CONRAD–holding area

1/2 hours and then we wrapped. Don’t worry, however, as we’re still paid the whole 8 hours whether we work that long or not.

So I was okay with not being used. It happens. This was the first time it had happened to me so that’s not too bad since I’ve been doing this a little while now. Although, when I started, my goal was to be in the ER set on Chicago Med. Still no go. I was so close! Literally, right on the other side of the fake wall of the set. Oh well, just gives me something to look forward to. I’ll get there someday.

CONRAD, Empire, and Mix Tape

These are the shows on which I am working this week. Click here for a link to CONRAD. This is a brand new show that hasn’t even been picked up yet. In fact, that’s where I am right now–sitting in holding updating my blog. And I’ve been in holding all day! My call time was 7:00 am. Here it is 1:30 pm and I have not been placed in a scene yet. There are only about ten of us Background actors here so I know I will be used, just not when. And I’ll be back tomorrow too. Hopefully I’ll be a bit busier.

Getting Busy in the Background friends
Janaan being patient while we wait for our scene.

At least I have other extras to keep me company! Here is my new friend, Janaan. Talking makes the time in holding go faster so I always appreciate having the other extras around.

On Tuesday I will be working on the season finale of Empire. Still haven’t worked that one so pretty excited about it. And on Friday, I’m working on another new show. It’s called Mix Tape and it will be on Netflix. You can click here to find out more on that one. Looks like it’s going to be so fun. That’s all for today. Stay tuned for how things went on my three shows this week! Hope to see you in the background!

First Time on Chicago PD

First Time on Chicago PD

Yesterday was the first time on Chicago PD for me!  I have been submitting and submitting for them and finally they chose me.  The above picture was taken at my home but that is the outfit I wore for my role as a “steakhouse restaurant patron.”

First Time on Chicago PD

First Time on Chicago PD
Chicago PD’s area at Cinespace

I was pretty excited to work on PD yesterday.  I love working on new (to me) shows.  It’s so interesting to see the different directors, crew, and actors for each show.  Our day began at Cinespace.  You can click here to read about Cinespace, the studio for so many Chicago productions.  Their website states, “Cinespace Chicago Film Studios is a family-owned company based in Chicago specializing in the development, management and operation of studio space and support facilities for the film, television, and digital media production industry.”  There is a lot to look at here and you can find some great photos too.  So we checked in, saw wardrobe, had a great hot breakfast, and then it was on the bus to the holding on Taylor Street.

First Time on Chicago PD
The Drum and Monkey pub on Taylor Street

PD was filming in two different Taylor Street restaurants and our holding was in a Taylor Street Pub called The Drum & Monkey.  It was a nice place and very comfortable for the long, long time I spent in holding that day.  I could see myself going here if I lived in this area.  Click here to check it out.  I only saw the restaurant I was able to work in.  Called Davanti Enoteca, it also looked like a place I would go.  They had some sample food out so we could pretend we were eating and although it had probably been sitting there for some time, it looked delicious.  We were able to take a peek at the menu too.  Looked very yummy.  Their website can be found by clicking here.

Not Much Time on Camera

Unfortunately, I didn’t have very much time on scene at all.  I worked the one scene but was quite a distance from the main action.  Me and another guy, Danny, did have a good time as he was quite funny but I’m sure I will not be seen on TV.  I did enjoy seeing Eriq La Salle as the director of this episode.  He was one of my favorites from the show ER.  He seemed like he was a pretty nice guy, as did Jason Beghe, the man who plays Hank Voight.  I saw him talking to a couple of extras which doesn’t always happen.  We’re not

First Time on Chicago PD
One of my new background friends

supposed to talk to the actors and they usually don’t make it a point to talk to us so it’s nice when they do.  Just from watching him, I think he is probably a pretty fun guy.

Other than that, I wasn’t used in the second restaurant scene and spent most of the day in holding.  As my mom says, “The pay is the same,” which is true but it’s not as fun as watching how the shows are made.  I do have to say, however, that it was a good day in holding.  I met some new background artist friends and we had some great conversations.  That is one thing I like about being an extra, the people I meet.

So all in all, it was a fun day with some really nice people even though I wasn’t used very much at all.  Hey, better than not using me even once because that too can happen.  Hopefully, I’ll soon have another chance to work on Chicago PD and have some fun things to say about it.  Thanks for reading mylifeinthebackground.com.  I’ll post as soon as I have another role.  With the holidays, the productions will be taking time off so it may be a couple of weeks.  Merry Christmas!!!

First Time on TV

Remember last week when I said I hadn’t yet seen myself on TV?  Well, that same evening I was watching Chicago Med and there I was!  Nobody who knows me would have noticed it was me, but I still felt pretty good about seeing myself for the first time on TV!

Chicago Med

The above picture is from the third time I worked on Chicago Med.  I told you about the first in the previous post; the one where Mom and I both worked as shoppers.  This one was an outdoor scene that was shot out in front of Rush Hospital in Chicago.  The second time I worked on Med was the same but I wasn’t seen on that episode.  Just this past week I worked for the fourth time and it was another outdoor scene, but at McCormick Place, not Rush.  And some exciting stuff happens on that one but since it hasn’t aired, I can’t yet reveal any secrets!

But back to the episode from the above picture.  It was just an okay day as far as the work day went.  We met in holding in a building about a block or so away.  After checking in and getting our wardrobe approved, we headed over to the hospital.  Some background actors received scrubs and other hospital garments but I was supposed to be an administrator so I was in my own clothes.  We were supposed to have nicer fall jackets and I didn’t have one so Mom and I headed to the thrift store earlier that week.  Luckily, I found two that I really liked for super cheap.  And I needed a nice fall coat that I could wear anyway.  I am finding that I love thrift stores to find my extra work wardrobe.  You really can find great deals on awesome clothes.  And since you need some diverse pieces so you can have lots of looks, it helps that you don’t have to spend full price.

Once at Rush, we have a smaller holding area blocked off from the main lobby.  Since it’s small and right in the hospital’s main entrance, we have to leave most of our stuff at the other place.  I had a small bag with a book and my iPad, but I find it hard to read with so much going on around me.  I really like it when there are some fun and talkative other extras because that makes it a little more entertaining for me.  Which was the case here so most of the time in holding I was having conversations and comparing our extra experiences.

The scene I shot took a good two hours or so to shoot but after that, I wasn’t really used much so spent most of the day in holding.  And they had us there for eight hours.  But that’s my life in the background.  You never know how it’s going to go.  Another reason this was just an okay day was that the timing didn’t work out for the full buffet lunch experience.  They did bring us pizza which kind of made me unhappy.  I have been trying to lose weight and the extra thick crust would not have been my choice.

First Time on TV
My step-dad, Jim, as an Uber driver. You can see him so clearly!

Not Just My First Time on TV

My mom and I had my step-dad, Jim, apply for a featured role on Chicago Fire as a crotchety old man.  He had never, ever worked before as an extra but he was chosen and played an Uber driver.  So the same night I saw myself, we then watched Chicago Fire and there he was!  Both of us on the same night.  The only thing I didn’t like was that I had also worked as a featured extra on the same episode of Chicago Fire but wasn’t seen on screen.  So at least someone from my family was!  Now we just have to see Mom!

Working With Mom

 

Working with my mom
Mom and I in holding for Chicago Med

 

One of the fun things about my experience as an extra is working with my mother, Nancy.  Working with mom is super fun and I’m hoping to do more of it.

Working With Mom

Mom and I have only been able to work with each other twice.  The first time we both worked on Chicago Med.  The scene was at the gorgeous Bloomingdale Home Store which

Working with Mom
Mom getting her hair touched up in holding for Proven Innocent.

used to be the Medinah Temple.  It’s a Chicago landmark that now has a new life thanks to Bloomingdales turning it into a store in 2003.  So that was pretty cool, being able to be in the store after hours.  For Chicago Med, it was supposed to be the department store owned by the character Cornelius Rhodes, the father of one of the principals, Dr. Connor Rhodes.

But the scene never made it into the episode!  Mom and I were pretty amazed that with all of the work that went into that scene, it wasn’t used.  It must have cost a fortune to rent the building and pay all of the cast and crew, including us–although we don’t make much at all.  And we were right behind the actors, center scene, pretending to shop while they spoke at a table.  We thought for sure you would be able to spot us on the show.  In fact, I haven’t yet seen myself on any show, which is fine as they still pay me.  But in all honesty, it would be pretty cool.  I’m sure it will happen soon enough.

Best Mother/Daughter Duo Around

Working with Mom
Holding for the set of Proven Innocent

At least we think so!  We do look quite a bit alike so if production is looking for a mother/daughter duo, we’re perfect.  Hopefully, production will think so too.  The second time we worked together was just this week on Proven Innocent, a Fox show that will air beginning in February, 2019.  It’s so nice having someone to hang out with during those long hours in holding.  I have only lived in the same area as my mother in the last five or so years so it’s super special that she is taking the time to share in my new little endeavor.  She’s even worked on her own, driving herself into the city from her home in the Northwest suburbs.  Thanks Mom!  I love working with you!

My Life as a Background Actor

Thanks for joining me and reading about my life as a background actor.  My goal for this blog is to offer advice on being an extra, receive advice on being an extra, and finally, to log my experiences.  Someday, I’ll read this and say, “Wow! I remember that!

The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark.     Michelangelo

My Life as a Background Actor

My Life as a Background Actor Mike and I
My husband and I at Wrigley Field a year before my first background job.

So I began this journey back in June, 2018 at Wrigley Field, one of my all time favorite places.  There’s nothing like Wrigley in the summer!  So when I was hired to play a baseball fan, I was pretty excited.  I had no idea what to expect but went with an open mind.  The weather was gorgeous and since my husband and I go there on a regular basis, I knew exactly where to go and where to park.  Yes, when you work as an extra they provide parking!  At no cost to you!  After parking, I grabbed my wardrobe bag and headed to the park.

And there was a huge line!  Yep, my first ever background job was with about 300 other extras.  The check in process went pretty smoothly and I was impressed how quickly they were able to get us all through.  What I didn’t realize before I went was that we all had different call times (the time you are supposed to check in).  Mine was the latest at 11:30 am, which I thought was great as I’m not a morning person.  But at the end of the night, they checked everyone out in the same order so I was one of the last to leave at 10:00 pm.  Hey, at least I earned some overtime on my first job.

So Much to Learn

I learned so much that first day.  It took a lot of asking questions of the more experienced extras, listening to them discussing the job, and observing all that was going on.  I filled out my first voucher.  The voucher is a form where you put your information such as name, social security number, date, etc.  At the end of the night, you return that voucher, they write your ending time, and give you back one of the carbon copies.  That is how you get paid.  No voucher, no pay.  Glad I didn’t lose it that first day!

I had signed up with one casting company, 4 Star Casting, already but through listening I found out about other ones to follow.  Basically, you follow them on Facebook and submit for a job when you see something that is appropriate for you.  Now, five months later, all of my jobs except three have been with 4 Star.  Click here to find out more about them.  You will need to create a POP profile and keep it up to date if you want to find jobs.  I still have so much more to learn.  Hopefully, I’ll keep getting more and more tips and tricks of the trade as I go along and can post them here.

Contact Me

Thanks for reading about my life as a background actor.  I have a lot more to tell and will be updating frequently.  If you are interested in doing this or more importantly, if you already do and have advice, please contact me here.  I have so much more to learn.