Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Updated story of a sock you've already seen

Regular readers will know that I sometimes work as an "extra" in TV and film when I am in between jobs. Please forgive me repeating anything you may have read before. I can't help myself.

I believe the episode of Jericho I was "in" will air next Tuesday night... the season finale?! Allow me the indulgence of sharing with you some knitting I did while working on the set that day, which resulted in a knee sock...

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
-pens, pencils
-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 made it to our location right on time. The thing I forgot, is a sweater. It was chilly and dark out. My first outfit was rejected and I changed outside in a freezing tent on the muddy, horse trodden field where base camp was set. Wardrobe then approved my dress.

Time for breakfast. Except I can't gather the desire to eat at 6:30 in the morning. I observed 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 passed by and got shoveled in quickly. Then they went 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 ate a few spoonfuls of unsweetened oatmeal. I was proud of my choices, though I was foolish for feeling this way.

Before I could get cracking on the sock, they corralled us onto buses that took us to our shoot location. The journey lasted about 20 minutes and the woman next to me had an unpleasant smell about her. Nothing unusual about this, of course. Somehow it contributed to my claustrophobia and I couldn't wait to get off the bus.

While we waited at our new holding area, I whipped out the book and started reading. A man playing a construction worker approached me. I told him he looked convincing in his role. Of course, I looked like mine as well: "civilian." I put my book away and we chatted about this and that. A rumor circulated that the show just got canceled. This was 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.

(It turns out this was to be the last episode of the season, not series, probably.)

We got the call to go on set and work. We were all placed evenly throughout the "Cheyenne" town square. (Pasadena) I was to hide behind a tree until the main stars walked by a hot dog stand, which was my cue to cross the street in front of them. It is here I saw one of the roles is for "man with dog."

I became obsessed with the dog, some kind of white and tan spaniel with a good dose of enthusiasm. I watched him work. He walked down the street convincingly in his role as "dog". After the director yelled "cut!" the dog and man returned to their mark, the dog with the same enthusiasm he had walking in the scene. Every take, the dog did it like it's the first time. I daresay some other extras could learn from this dog.

I say this because we had to re-do the scene countless times. Every time we were supposed to basically do the same thing. However, every take was different on my route. I ran into different people as I did my walk. One time, I was almost run over by "woman with bicycle." I don't get it.

By mid-morning, I found myself hiding behind the tree for a while, so I ate the banana. A toddler in the role of "toddler" started to cry. A woman leaned in to whisper to me, "When I was a kid, I would have gotten beaten for that." I nodded in agreement, though I don't know why I did this. Maybe I was afraid she would beat me if I disagreed with her.

And that's when a crazy person started shouting at us from a building across the street. He yelled four-letter words in various combinations with the word "Hollywood." He did this because we were all over his street, in his way. Ironically, this dragged out the production. If he would've remained quiet, we could've finished the scene and left. It's hard to reason with crazy though. We got in half a dozen more takes, and they were occasionally peppered with a shout or two from Mr. crazy. We just kept rolling as if we didn't hear him.

It's not until we broke for lunch that I finally got to work on the sock. That is to say, the cast and crew broke for lunch. We were told to sit at holding and to not eat anything. I knit an inch or two while the extras speculated about when we'll get to eat. Very, very slowly they started to let us go. They were not obligated to feed us then, because they released us from the job. The extras naturally got snippy, even though many of them already had three consecutive breakfasts.

About a week later I finished this here Schaefer Anne diamond-studded knee sock.

The pattern is for sale in my etsy shop and now through Ravelry downloads:


Anonymous said...

I am going to be keeping my eye open for that hot dog cart next week! I want to see you crossing the road. I bet you will be the best street crosser in the whole episode

Blu486 said...

What a riot! Being from the Midwest myself, never get to hear stories like this. I watch Jerico and like it lots. Will look for you crossing the street next week for sure! Congrats on the sock, too. Pretty!