Put me behind a camera (yes, c’est moi hiding behind the camera) and I am as happy as can be. Give me the merest possibility of earning some cash as an ‘extra’ in a film and – at a push – I am prepared to put myself in front of the lens, in whatever guise required, be it alien / ordinary-member-of-the-public-walking-down-the-street / zombie, or whatever. When I was living in Jersey and the children were still toddlers, we were all extras in a dramatic episode of Bergerac where the climax takes place on the deck of a channel crossing ferry, specially hired for the day which ran into three days in the event. I feel this qualifies me as a bit of a veteran in such matters. I even opened a Post Office savings account for each of my children to deposit their first earnings.
As word spread that Mad Dog Casting were in town to recruit extras for a new film with Brad Pitt, to be made in Cornwall and Malta and directed by Marc Forster (of Finding Neverland, Stranger than Fiction, Kite Runner fame), a throng of hard-up people (why else would you do it?), the unemployed, out of work actors, film students and the plain curious etc. etc. (plus yours truly), all descended onto our capital city, packed into the cavernous, echoing space of a school gymnasium to sign up to the film industry’s equivalent of the dole queue. I even read in the Cornishperson that someone had booked holiday time off work for the chance of being in a Hollywood movie. At this point, images from Ricky Gervais’s ‘Extras’ came to mind, making it feel like we were already in some sort of unscripted play, half expecting someone to turn up with a fluffy rabbit on a boom and a puff of powder.
Duly prodded and vital statistics checked in case anyone had been stretching the truth (admission of guilt here)….. including bra cup size (no need to exaggerate this one), head circumference (ironic!), shoe size (more relevant if you are a bloke so I’m told and don’t believe) and a tick in the box that said it was OK to have your hair cut (did I really tick that box?). Shuffling my way finally to the beginning of the queue, positioned in front of a limp white sheet hung from the climbing bars, a mug shot is taken clasping my bold black identity numbers tightly to my bosom, prison-sentence fashion.
“We’ll let you know in a couple of weeks” was the sign-off. Was it worth the petrol to travel to the ‘casting’ as MD called it? Would we be chosen as one of the one thousand extras required for the army / street scene / madding crowd etc.? My companion said she will only agree to do it if a dinner date with the star is included in her contract! There is a rumour that the action is taking place in Falmouth during Regatta Week, and that there is some sort of a boat / ship / sea-faring vessel involved. A boat! Could this be too much of a coincidence? I’ve noticed a three-masted tall ship moored in Mount’s Bay over the last few days. Could this…….? We’ll just have to wait and see…. but I’m not holding my breath.