There was this one day at the end of September I went to work a one-day job as an extra for the TV show "Jericho". I brought along these socks (then in progress) to keep me company.
I packed my stuff up the night before, because our call time was set for 6am. My alarm clock was set for 4:30am. My mood was set for excitement mixed with a mild dread.
It is important to pack properly if you are going to be an extra. I'm always amazed when I see people hanging out on set, staring into space with nothing to do. Or worse, trying to talk to others about how "Brad Pitt got his start as an extra."
The kit that day:
-one business casual outfit to wear (Khaki pants, light blue blouse)
-one to change into in case they don't like the first (Navy dress)
-one book (Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri)
-one journal (unlined, for ideas, sketches, whatever)
-a sudoku book
-a different pair of earrings (for the dress)
-various hair clips
-this sock with corresponding pattern notes
I'm normally cranky getting up at 7. Getting up at 4:30 is just confusing. I make it to our location right on time. The thing I forgot, is a sweater. It's chilly and dark out. My first outfit is rejected and I change outside in a freezing tent on the muddy, horse trodden field where base camp is set. Wardrobe then approves my dress.
Time for breakfast. Except I can't gather the desire to eat at 6:30 in the morning. I observe this to not be a problem for the rest of the background players. Trays stacked with breakfast burritos, paper cups of orange and cranberry juice, mounds of bacon and sausage all pass by and get shoveled in quickly. Then they go back for more and more. There is rarely any shame with us extras and free food.
I put a banana in my bag for later. I eat a few spoonfuls of unsweetened oatmeal. I am proud of my choices, though I am foolish for feeling this way.
Before I can get cracking on the sock, they corral us onto buses that take us to our shoot location. The journey lasts about 20 minutes and the woman next to me has an unpleasant smell about her. Nothing unusual about this, of course. Somehow it contributes to my claustrophobia and I can't wait to get off the bus.
While we wait at our new holding area, I whip out the book and start reading. A man playing a construction worker approaches me. I tell him he looks convincing in his role. Of course, I look like mine as well: "civilian." I put my book away and we chat about this and that. A rumor circulates that the show just got canceled. This is to be the very last episode, making this the third time I have appeared in the very last episode of something. 1. Providence. 2. Alias. Now, 3. Jericho.
We get the call to go on set and work. We are all placed evenly throughout the town square. I am to hide behind a tree until the main stars walk by a hot dog stand, which is my cue to cross the street in front of them. It is here I see one of the roles is for "man with dog."
I become obsessed with the dog, some kind of white and tan spaniel with a good dose of enthusiasm. I watch him work. He walks down the street convincingly in his role as "dog". After the director yells "cut!" the dog and man return to their mark, the dog with the same enthusiasm he had walking in the scene. Every take, the dog does it like it's the first time. I daresay some other extras could learn from this dog.
I say this because we have to re-do the scene countless times. Every time we are supposed to basically do the same thing. However, every take is different on my route. I run into different people as I do my walk. One time, I am almost run over by "woman with bicycle." I don't get it.
By mid-morning, I find myself hiding behind the tree for a while, so I eat the banana. A toddler in the role of "toddler" starts to cry. A woman leans in to whisper to me, "When I was a kid, I would have gotten beaten for that." I nod in agreement, though I don't know why I am doing this. Maybe I am afraid she will beat me if I disagree with her.
And that's when a crazy person starts shouting at us from a building across the street. He yells four-letter words in various combinations with the word "Hollywood." He does this because we are all over his street, in his way. Ironically, this drags out the production. If he would remain quiet, we could finish the scene and leave. It's hard to reason with crazy though. We get half a dozen more takes, and they are occasionally peppered with a shout or two from Mr. crazy. We just keep rolling as if we don't hear him.
It's not until we break for lunch that I finally get to work on the sock. That is to say, the cast and crew break for lunch. We are told to sit at holding and to not eat anything. I knit an inch or two while the extras speculate about when we'll get to eat. Very, very slowly they start to let us go. They are not obligated to feed us now, because they released us from the job. The extras naturally get snippy, even though many of them had three consecutive breakfasts.
About a week later I finished this here Schaefer Anne diamond-studded knee sock. I know I keep saying it, but I freaking LOVE this yarn. By the way, the Loopy Ewe just did a big update and added many more Anne colors. Remember, once they're gone, they are gone. The yarn I used I think they are calling Rain Clouds. Personally, I am longing for Tea Leaves.