The Lowest Rung On the Hollywood Ladder, Part 1
So we're all running around a concrete train station terminal, most of us in business wear and high heels. Riddle me this: Do you honestly think if all the men were really gone, that women would continue to wear high heels? I would think not, but then I'm not a masochist. The running around in high heels continued for a good forty five minutes or so, and at this point I'm ready to start throwing things at the first assistant director. Preferably my high heels. Followed by a couple of the urine soaked hobo security team.
"Look more scared, girls! You've never seen a man before!" I gave this guy an incredulous look. You're right. I'm definitely not looking at one now. Jackass.
Day continues, lunch is served (oh hooray! Undercooked bowtie pasta in mystery white sauce! And limp cooked carrots! My inner gourmand is celebrating.) and we get into the second half of the day.
We're lead to a different location, a particularly art deco and modern subway terminal. With really, really, crazy long escalators. Seriously. These escalators are a good 50 feet tall. I've never seen anything like them. The subway is below, and at the top of the escalators is a broad, indented expanse of concrete, benches, and really hideously ugly modern sculpture. It's supposed to be, like, a design for today's modern business traveler on the go. With orange and red abstract tile frescoes all along the interior walls. It looked like a pit. The street is elevated about 5 feet above this wonder of cultural design.
I didn't like it. It was hot down there, and it smelled like feet and stress and was just fucking ugly.
Yeah, I'm an architectural critic in my spare time. Shut up.
So a few of us extras are taken down the looong escalator (wheee!) and set up, given our instructions by the second AD. We can vaguely hear the director yelling something faintly 50 feet above.
Oops, he's yelling action! Has been for several moments now. Turns out the 2nd AD's radio doesn't work underground! Who'd have thought it?
So there's another work around figured. The cameras wouldn't start rolling until the first extra appeared at the top of the escalator.
This will turn out to be a huge mistake.
During the rehearsal, we're all shown exactly where the camera is going to be. It's a steady cam shot, with the guy operating it walking backwards through this pit of an urban blight. We are all of us extras supposed to walk straight at the camera, while the cameraman is walking backwards, and then peel off to either side when we get to be about 4 or 5 feet away. It's a pretty standard shot. Done all the time to make a scene appear busier than it actually is.
Rehearsal goes smoothly. All is well.
We get a few takes under our belts, noticing that the light is starting to go. More than likely, we'll be sent home when we get this done. Woo.
We're all sent up the escalator again, and the gal who's in the lead appears at the top.
Turns out that the cameraman wasn't entirely ready for it that time.
His support crew, who is supposed to be holding the wires and guiding the cameraman around, was off on the other side of the set, chatting up the cute production assistant or something. The cameraman decided to get the shot anyway, begins filming and walking backwards. Then, the extra who led our mad rush up the escalator lost all sense of space and proportion, or went temporarily insane. She glanced away for a second, and then when she peeled off to the right, she bumped the cameraman's left shoulder.
Now a steady cam is not a light piece of equipment. They're approximately 75 pounds a pop, not to mention the hydraulic belt support that makes it steady. So this poor cameraman is already dangerously overbalanced. This is why a support crew is so achingly vital. They will keep him upright, and make sure he doesn't trip over the trailing wires.
But he didn't have his support crew. And the wires were right there under his feet. And he'd just been bumped by a distracted extra.
He goes ass over teacup, steady cam flying out of its support belt, and shattering into a million pieces on the concrete.
We all froze.