12 March 2012

From Boardwalk To Boardwalk, Part IV

Anxiety was the word of the day, all day, until exactly eight o'clock at night when the email from "Boardwalk Empire" finally arrived (I still can't believe I get emails from "Boardwalk Empire"!). I nervously opened it, reading it quickly and slowly at the same time, trying to grasp the entire thing all at once. Elephant? I just saw something about an elephant. Boardwalk set, YES! I'm going to be on the boardwalk set! I focussed my mind and read it through, calming myself so I could digest the information and make the necessary plans. I had to be in Manhattan by five o'clock in the morning to meet the shuttle bus to the Brooklyn set, bloody hell! I find the Greyhound Bus site, navigating through the maddening pop-ups and cursing them the entire time until I finally got to the schedule I needed. In order to be in Manhattan, on time, I see that I'll have to leave Atlantic City on the one-thirty in the morning bus. What? It's now eight-thirty at night. I haven't slept all damn day in anticipation of this moment and now I have to be on the road in five short hours. Yes, I knew there would be an early morning call all along but when the reality finally hits you, it's still a surprise once you work out the devilish details.
I made my plans, preparing my clothing and my shoulder bag for the trip, packing it with the magazines and eReader and earphones and other items deemed necessary for my jaunt north and then quickly shutting down for a short nap. Mighty Joe curled up next to me, thinking we're settled in early for a long sleep through the night.
He wasn't happy when I got up at midnight and began getting ready. Showered and shaved, carefully trimming around my moustache, grooming my eyebrows, and making sure I had everything, I hurriedly got dressed and ran to the Jitney bus, where I happily didn't have to wait long before one whisked me across town to the bus terminal.
The desk clerk was happy to help me utilize the automated ticket machine, evidently they are pushing the new (well, new for them) technology for the late night travellers and she was there to guide you through. Right before I left, I told her where I was going, I was bursting with the news and couldn't hold it in any longer, having to spill it out to this total stranger. She was duly impressed and I was the cock-of-the-walk as I ran out to the loading area and got my seat on the mercifully empty bus.

I barely remember the ride up, I may have dozed off for an hour, I might not have, I seriously don't recall. My next recollection came when I was near the tunnel into the city, because I was using my map app to check once more where I had to meet the shuttle. I was surprised by Port Authority at this early hour. I'm used to being there during the day, the hustle-bustle of people running everywhere at once. Now it was quiet, people sleeping on the floors, in the chairs, propped against the walls and posts, security gates were down where I didn't know security gates existed. It was a different world, silent except for the incessant warning voice instructing us in the proper way to enter and exit the escalator. I made my way through, noticing the time as I wandered up and out. I was an hour early and the pick-up spot wasn't that far from the station. Once on the streets of mid-town, I was once again taken aback by the difference from my last few visits. The streets were empty. No traffic. No pedestrians. Nothing. Just a few stragglers here and there, newspaper delivery trucks slowly rumbling by but nearly devoid of the usual cacophony of humanity I've only ever seen in that part of town. It was also cold, much colder than I had dressed for and I pulled up my hood and began making my way to Thirty-Third and Third.
The cold got the better of me half-way there and I ducked into a McDonald's, hoping for a hot cup of coffee. I saw people sitting around the restaurant with food and cups but once I got to the counter, I was informed that they were shut for another half hour. I stood there for a few moments, warming up, before once again making my way through the empty streets to my goal. I was so busy window shopping, since I had never been in that part of town before, that I didn't mind the cold any longer and began wondering where the Empire State Building was. I knew I had seen it from Eighth Avenue, I thought I should be close to it by now when I looked up and there she was, towering high above me. I smiled to myself, only I could lose such a tall building in the middle of Manhattan. I made my way across the island, lonely and cold, past Fifth, Madison and Park Avenues, until I finally got to the corner I was looking for, where there were a line of buses and shuttles waiting. I went down the line asking which one took me to Boardwalk Empire and, mercifully, it was the second one there. I hopped on, looking at the the few others already on board and sat down and waited.

Stifling the huge smile that continually wanted to break out across my face.

People drifted on, the assistants checking each of us off the list as we boarded (my check-in number was forty-four) and when the last one came running across the street and go on, just in time, we left for Brooklyn. The trip over was interesting, taking yet another route into the borough that I had never used, and I tried to eavesdrop in on the chatter around me but nothing registered. I was too excited to think. I was now running on adrenalin and instinct, if instinct is the right word since I had never done anything like this before. We pulled up to a fenced-in yard along the Hudson River, with the requisite little building at the gate for the guards and peppered with four or five temporary trailers to the left, where I later learned was wardrobe, holding, craft services, make-up and the production trailers. To the right, as I walked through the gates, there were massive shipping crates stacked two high and in a circular configuration. I caught a brief look through a separation between them, in the early morning light, and saw that it was the boardwalk set itself and my heart leapt! I was here. This was happening. Un-fucking-believeable!!!
A guy with a clip-board guided us into the holding area, blessedly warm. It was also where craft services was located and I was hungry. There were people already there, those that came directly to the set on their own and some of the production crew. I wandered over to the food area and was in food nirvana, at least where craft services is concerned.
They had steak, bacon, ham, pancakes, eggs cooked to order, every kind of bread and bagels, yoghurt and fresh fruit to use in the juicers. It was fabulous buffet and I ate what I could since, by the time I made my plate and sat down, they called my number and I had to go to wardrobe to begin the process of getting ready for filming.

I walked over to the next trailer and it was bustling with people. To the left were the make-up and hairdressers, already working on the women since they were going to take longer getting their hair set and faces painted. To the right were two partitions separating the men and women dressing areas and I waited in line until they brought me in and I found my bag containing my clothing with a picture of me from my last visit, already wearing the costume, attached to it. Once again, I suppressed a smile and began changing, carefully taking off my clothes and switching them with the costume, which was extensive. As I was getting ready, I looked around to see what everyone else was wearing and we ranged in class, based on the costumes, from well-to-do gents to the labour classes like myself. There was only one mirror and we took turns checking ourselves to make sure everything was on correctly. I did notice, when I put on the vest to the suit, that it was extremely snug and I was praying that I didn't have any action scenes because I would definitely rip out of it! Yes, I didn't listen to them and continued working out and now I may live to regret my decision.

The staff gave me the once over and determined I needed a tie-bar and they quickly found one and I was released from them and waited in line to get my hair done. I realized that up until now, I haven't really chatted with anyone and everyone who knows me knows that I'm a rather friendly person. I decided to strike up a conversation with the guy in front of me. To be honest, I barely remember a lot of the details of his life. I know he's married, he's done this kind of work before, had a couple of kids but I needed to make small-talk in order to keep the nervous edge at a tolerable level and he was a more-than-capable companion. I watched the action around me, marvelling at the controlled chaos with people being shuffled back and forth, they occasionally walked down the line and determined who was next or if they had special concerns. Suddenly, they did a moustache count and I was told that I may have to be shaved, did I have a problem with that? Uhh, no. As far as I was concerned, they could do whatever they wanted. I was told that after they finished my hair, I was going to have to get shaved, I was too young for a 'stache. Lovely! One of the women told me to see her when I was done. I finally was escorted to a seat in front of one of the mirrors and the stylist worked his magic on my hair.

Although I saw what they were doing to the guys before, I was a little taken aback by the time he was through with me. My hair was severely parted and then they plastered it to my head with gels, sprays and gods know what else. I couldn't help noticing that with the moustache, I resembled Adolph Hitler and I couldn't wait to have it shaved off! I thanked the guy and made my way to the next area to be shaved. As she was shaving my moustache off, she suggested I get my eyelashes tinted for future work and then informed me that I need to mention that I was shaved at the end of the day, I get extra pay. Fancy that, they are paying me extra to shave my face! She finished up with me, applying a little make-up here and there for the cameras and then I had to wait in line for the wardrobe mistress to give me the final okay before I went back to holding to wait for the call to film. The adjusted a few things, my overcoat was sitting too low and my tie needed to pop out a little more and they sent me over to wait.

I sat there, surreptitiously taking a few photographs and checking in on my Facebook, and watched everyone file in, wearing their costumes. To say that I was enjoying this experience would be an understatement! As each aspect of this day was unfolding, I couldn't believe I was actually here and doing this. I didn't care one whit what happened next, I was already having the time of my life and I not one frame of film had been shot.

Some people were called back to wardrobe, there were some changes made and not before long, the production staff came in and called for attention. They wanted to set the scene we were filming and give us last minute instructions. We were filming at the boardwalk set but not on the actual boardwalk, we would be in a alleyway set behind it which was redressed. It was New Year's Day, 1923, nearly a year after the incidents ending the previous season on the show. We were at a carnival and the principal characters were to be Richard Harrow (the guy with the mask) and Tommy Darmody, Jimmy's son. There would be an elephant on set and we were not to approach the elephant, go near the elephant and were to be mindful of the elephant. They were very adamant about these instructions and these elephant warnings continues throughout the day's filming. They had no need to remind me, I had no problem giving the elephant it's space.
The assistant left and we waited a bit longer and suddenly, they came in to escort us to the set.

1 comment:

  1. hope i can recognize my own child