01 May 2012

From Boardwalk-To-Boardwalk, Part VI

I received another email from the casting agency informing me that I was needed once again for "Boardwalk Empire" and I was ecstatic! I didn't expect to get a call back so quickly and I readily accepted the offer and made my plans to travel back to Brooklyn. 

I had to check in at ten at night to get my call times for the next day's shoot and I patiently waited all day, finally making the call and getting a recorded message instructing me to call back in a half hour. This went on hour after hour, I reset my alarm waking up each time to call, finally getting the message around one thirty in the morning with my call times and other pertinent information I'd need for the day. Luckily it was a later call time then my last appearance but I still had to leave Atlantic City rather early to get to Brooklyn and find the set. 

It was a beautiful day and I had mapped out my route to the location set, not really sure what I was going to do, exactly. Supposedly the scene was taking place in a Chicago speakeasy which seemed exciting and full of promise. This part of Brooklyn was rather charming, full of little cafes and eclectic bars and my map was surprisingly accurate, taking me right to the YMCA that was rented to act as our holding area. I followed the signs upstairs and met with the PA, filled out my time sheet and then got directions to the church that was going to be our wardrobe area. On the way over, I met a nice young guy who was also on the show. It was his first time so I, being a veteran now, gave him a little advice and we talked a bit about the show. The church was a few blocks from the set and the YMCA and out front, craft services had set up a light breakfast right in the street, which garnered a few questions from the neighbours passing by. I walked through the little courtyard and through the doors. Through the small vestibule on the left were the bathrooms and to the right was another small room that led into the larger church basement area which now served as our hair/make-up and wardrobe. I went in the men's side and I looked at the walls and windows, over-painted and peeling, the linoleum faded and missing here and there and found a spot to get changed. I got into my costume, listening to the bustle of action around me. Once again it was controlled chaos, with the PA's herding us through the process and making sure things were running as smooth as possible. They were constantly talking into their radios coordinating the millions of minutiae that concerns the filming a television show. I stood in line and waited my turn for hair and make-up making small talk with everyone around me, smiling to myself, again, that this was happening to me!
One of the women there grabbed me, directing me to her chair to fashion my hair into something more era appropriate. As she started, she said, "So, you're a bartender." and I was shocked. How did she know what I do? So I asked her, "How did you know?" and she said, "No. It says it here on the call sheet.". 


So I had a role (of sorts)!!! The rush of emotions nearly overwhelmed me, I wasn't expecting anything like this. I was happy, scared, nervous, terrified, excited, each feeling competing for attention but I didn't let any of that show. I just sat there as she finished her work and I got back in line for final wardrobe approval and then back to the holding area. When they asked my number for the day, ninety-four, I told them and that set off a frenzy of action. I was not in a bartender's costume, I was in my original wardrobe! Suddenly they removed my jacket and vest, found a different tie, suspenders and an apron so I would look the part. My trousers were also wrong, too long and creating a crease and that had to be adjusted by hiking them up very high, tightening the suspenders to their very limits. Evidently, men in the twenties did not have that little crease at the bottom of their pants. I found the attention to detail to be admirable, the camera wouldn't focus on our legs but they made sure we were still appropriate for the time period. I was also missing a button that needed replacement and they sewed it on while I was still in them. 

After a few more adjustments, there was another "bartender" as well, to make sure we were similar but not the exact same (yes, they argued over the tying of the aprons and how they should sit on our bodies), we were approved and released to have breakfast. By now, most of us were in costume and it was later in the morning, the neighbourhood was busy with people going about their business but it's not every day you wander down your street and see dozens of people dressed in clothing from another era. The camera phones came out and pictures were snapped by almost everyone walking by us. We milled about talking and passing the time before we were told to go to holding and wait for the set-up. 

This is when I noticed the set, or where the set was to be more precise. We had passed it before but I wasn't really aware of what was going on. Yes, they had equipment everywhere around the building, huge black-tarp tents covering the entrance of the building and generator trucks, trailers and other on-set items all over the street out front. You may wonder how I could have missed it but I did. I guess I was just focussed on finding out where I was supposed to be and getting ready than I was on where I was going to end up for the rest of the day.  It's amazing how the mind works. I made a few phone calls, updated my Facebook status and wasted time. They finally gathered us together to take us over to the set, explaining what we were about to do. It was indeed a Chicago speakeasy, where we would see the character of Agent Van Alden enjoying himself when we would get raided by Prohibition agents who later recognize him as one of their own. 

This was going to be fun! 

We filed out of the YMCA and across the street to the location set, now the streets in the neighbourhood were teeming with people and traffic, all gawking to get a look at all of us in costume. The director and crew grabbed us according to our characters to be placed on the set. I walked through all the equipment carts, full of every sort of item you could think of, props, lenses, extension rods, clamps, simply everything you'd need to make a film and I made my way through the tarp, over the snaking cables and wires, into a little area set up with the playback equipment, monitors and electrical boards of every sort. To my right was a door and we went through it and back in time! 

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