My person heard there was an open call for unpaid extras for a taping of a scene from the ABC show, "Nashville." Now, I've never actually WATCHED an episode of "Nashville," but Terri had. And since we are nothing if not always up for an adventure (she once got stuck on the roof of my house), we signed up to be on the show.
The on-line instructions told us to show up at the sound stage at 3 p.m. and wear muted, fall colors. Nothing white, brightly patterned, or with a visible logo. We would be acting as though we were attending a concert, which meant we would be clapping, cheering, and waving. (This would require a great deal of acting from me, as you may recall that I am not a woo girl.) In exchange, there would be snacks, prize giveaways and a light meal. Plus, we would get to see "a concert performance by 'Juliet Barnes' (Hayden Panettiere)."
Sign. Us. Up.
You might be a little disappointed to learn that the life of an extra isn't as glamorous as you might have thought, especially when you're an UNPAID extra.
For starters, extras parking is nowhere near the sound stage. Not even a bit. Thankfully, they had 15 passenger vans to shuttle us to the building. When we got there, we were herded into the building and directed to sit at a large group of tables. We were given a meal ticket (which I ended up losing) and a door prize ticket and invited to partake in the snacks at the craft service table. We were also told not to cross the yellow caution tape that separated the unpaid (i.e., the unclean) from the PAID extras. NO MINGLING! NO!
There was a DJ to keep us entertained, a couple of girls to keep us all peppy and excited, and Twizzlers on the craft services table. The DJ kept thanking us for volunteering our time, as though we were joining the Peace Corps instead of working for free so the poor little ol' network could afford to tape the show.
|"These pretzels are making me thirsty."|
After three hours with the Pep Squad and way too many Twizzlers, they told us we would be taken back to the sound stage within about thirty minutes. I decided I'd best avail myself of the facilities before I went, so I asked for directions to the restroom and was told to go back out through the same door where we entered the building and take a left.
That would just take me OUTSIDE.
Mmmm, yeah, we were provided with port-a-potties. That did not have lights inside them. And that did not have breathable air inside them, either.
I peed in record time, yanked my pants up and decided the hell with social norms and evacuated the johnny-on-the-spot and tucked in my shirt and zipped my jeans outside, with the smokers watching. Not that I'm disparaging the smokers. If it hadn't been for one of them, I never would have figured out how to operate the water at the handwashing station.
We were finally herded back to the sound stage and told to surround a stage area. An Assistant Director with a microphone gave us instructions that only he could hear, as apparently, the sound was going to the monitors on the stage and not through any kind of loud speaker. The extras (UNPAID extras) who were two feet away from him were able to hear enough to figure out what to do, and the rest of us went along with it. The AD had us practice clapping and cheering. And doing it in pantomime. He told us how we would cheer and clap when "Juliet" came out. How we would back off when she started talking. He was very earnest and took himself very seriously. He gave us little gems of feedback, like "the energy's really important to us." (I seemed to be the only one around me who thought that was hilarious.)
Soon, we were good enough for the stand-ins to leave the stage and the actors and musicians to come out.
The AD told us not to sing along or clap to the beat for editing purposes. My first thought was, how could we possibly sing along to songs we've never heard before?
"Juliet" started singing. She sang one verse and a chorus of a song. We were enthusiastic audience members. We did it again. And again. And again.
That was the extent of the "concert" we were promised.
And now I could see how we could end up singing along with her, as we heard the same verse and chorus a bazillion times.
After about twenty takes, they herded us back out and fed us some pretty darn fine pizza. Then the little sheep were led back in to cheer another dozen times or so. And finally, around 10:00 p.m., we were done.
There was never, ever, not even once, a camera anywhere NEAR me, so don't strain yourself looking for me on an upcoming episode.
Meh, who cares, though? We had a terrific time.
And, after a series of trades, I got myself a "Nashville" beanie.