Arts & Elbows

A catalogue of commentary on events in Thanet and occassionally the rest of the world.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

A day in the life of a film star

It's not every day you stumble across a man working around a charred skeleton in Margate, but fear not it just happened to be the very first thing seen having turned up to the filming of the "Exodus" project at the Dreamland site. My son, the Slug, had wanted to get involved and was invited to be an extra and him being just nine and three quarters meant I had to tag along to keep an eye on him.

So having parked and signed in at security it was into one of the disused parts of the once great theme park. We could tell we were in the right place by all the costumed and made up folk sitting around including two ragged looking youngsters entertaining themselves on a laptop.

Having let the right folk know we where there it was time for the main activity of the day for the talent known as extras, sitting around waiting. There was a brief flurry of activity in visiting the wardrobe department, and another when it was suggested that rather than just being a parent I could be an injured teacher in the day's scene, namely the bombing of a school. Well never one to turn down a hint of fun I jumped at the opportunity.

So relatively soon after I was made up by the delightful Sophie and Zoe. Some of the children in the scene were as young as four and five and as the first injured teachers wandered out of make-up there were a few startled and worried young faces. So they were all brought in to watch me being made to look as if I'd suffered from a bomb blast. It started with wide eyed wonder verging on horror from the youngest but eventually as I joked and chatted they soon realised it was just a grisly game.

Then it was the call to the set, where Penny, the highly talented director, set about explaining what was going to happen. She spent most time with the children, probably realising they were the most talented amongst us, and making sure they realised it was all make believe. Some paid more attention than others, the Slug seemingly paying least.

Then it was make-up for the children, with Slug ear-marked for quite extreme make-up as his boyish taste for guns and gore had been noted. Sophie and Zoe spent ages working on him, something he enjoyed, and the first example of just how much effort goes into film production for a relatively few minutes footage.

This handsome looking soul is a runner, so I was lucky to catch him standing still. He basically looked after us humble extras, tucking himself out of camera shot and giving us our cues to start moving. He explained what's going on as well as being a genuinely affable chap. He's working as a runner to fund his training, so one day he will be a fully qualified stuntman.

This is Lucy, it's hard to tell what her job title might be because she seems to have more than one job and actually does more running around than we saw the runner do. She wasn't sure about letting me take her photo because I've taken it before and not used it. Not one to disappoint a lady, here it is.

This is one of my fellow injured teachers, the only difference being he's actually a teacher. So should you know any pupils from the Marlowe Academy let them know there's one of their teachers involved. I can't imagine any of my teachers doing anything similar, shame on them.

The scene is set, the idea being the injured teachers and pupils stagger out of this charred doorway making sure they don't trip over anything. Doesn't look much but with the smoke, lights and acting all going it was a scary scene. Mostly we stood around waiting to be packed inside, then we waited a little longer to hear the cry of action.

On the other side of the camera are piles of production folk. It might look like they do very little but that's far from the case. The amount of effort put in for every second of film is staggering. After a whole day we'd done three takes, all of us staggering out of the school. I lumbered around like a large piece of ham, but Slug went down a storm, showing that watching lots of old war movies is an educational use of time. Director Penny congratulated him on his part and quite genuinely so, she said similar to me but she was just being nice.

Shooting finished and having all been badly injured there was little more to do than pose for a few photos amongst ourselves. Expect to see dear old Ben Kidger in the finished scene quite a bit as he seems to be a natural drama queen, and the cameras love that.

Having finished playing our humble roles we took the opportunity to wander around the Shanty Town set, which was more entertaining than the meagre funfair it contained in the summer.

It was also quite spooky, the level of detail is such as to suggest a real shanty town but there's no one there. Again the amount of work put in is staggering.

This is the main path leading to the immigration control gates, washing hangs from lines, stalls are laid out selling various tat worthless in the real world, and tiny hovels lean against each other.

Having signed our release forms it's time to go home. Slug's acting has been exhausted but he insisted on wearing the make-up home so he might terrify his mother, and who am I to deny him that honest pleasure?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Superb! The Slug looks a natural. But no pics of your fine self? Shurely shome mishtake. Saw Penny's latest film in the London Film Festival at the weekend, which was excellent.

10:07 AM  
Blogger Artyblartfast said...

I didn't get a good one of me, but I think some other folk did, should I track one down I'll put it up.

6:04 PM  

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