Thursday, September 10, 2009

Zombies, Deal or No Dealers, Wichita in Worcester..

When does the season end? You might assume that - given our normal weather, movie shoots in Massachusetts would begin to fade away, after Labor Day. But, this year at least, that doesn't seem to be the case. I don't spend the day scouring the web for news of flicks filming (and other on-camera opportunities) in this state, but without much of an effort I have come across a half-dozen.

Ben Affleck is directing and starring - I think, in a film that the nightly news is showing in production in Charlestown. Tom Cruise is the lead in a film called Wichita (apparently no relation to a film by the same name made some 50 years ago) filming in Worcester, at the moment. Deal or No Deal - the game show with Howie Mandel, a chorus line of attache-wielding runway models, and an anonymous Wall Street banker sitting high up in the rafters, is now filming in (of all places) Waterbury, Connecticut, and regularly needs contestants and audience members. And locally, Plymouth Rock Studios seems to be gearing up their marketing efforts - because for some reason they just put out a call for Zombies (sorry, they already have more dead than they can use).

And this comes on the heels of several major motion pictures which have only recently concluded their Massachusetts productions - including the Mark Wahlberg/Christian Bale boxing as life film, The Fighter (on which I am proud to say I made several Franklins).

It really is becoming - for me at least, a problem, a good problem. There are actually times when I have to choose between productions - because it is normal for casting agencies to ask you to commit several days ahead of time. Luckily for me, my 'day job' is writer - something I can do from just about anywhere, at any time. The choice though, isn't as simple as dollars and cents (though, that would be nice and easy if it was). At this point in my acting 'career' I still place a high value on the experience, on getting footage for a personal reel to use for auditions and on casting sights, and making friends in the business and the like. I expect I will be playing a zombie for the local folks - and while it is a 'freebie', I hope to be able to get to know the local producers and technicians during the two or three days of shooting that are planned - which could prove invaluable if/when Plymouth Rock Studios becomes operational. I passed though, on a paying job - being an audience member for the game show in Connecticut, because I didn't think the experience would add to my knowledge sufficiently, and because the four-plus hour round trip would probably cost more in gas and wear and tear on my car, than the $40 they offered for five hours of work. But I gave a committment (in advance of an offer) for work on Wichita, though it is also a four hour round trip and pays the same, standard $8/hr (though the days will likely be 10-12 hours long).

What am I saying? I guess I am just trying to get my hands around the fact that there actually is work for extras in this area, already. If you're persistent, plugged in (to all local casting agencies), and have some flexibility, you can still get valuable experience and a little folding money even now, as we approach autumn. And as Massachusett's film industry may be on the cusp of great changes - and rapid growth, now is the time to make the effort to gain those experiences.

And please, if you can - contact me and I'll set you up so you can share your experiences here.

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