As I approached my fiftieth birthday a few years ago, I started pondering the concept of bucket list items. One of the things I had always wanted to do was to be in a movie or TV show. I don’t have any particular aspirations of being an actor for a living, but I wanted to be able to point at the screen and say “Hey! That’s me!”. In the late winter of 2009, there was a news story on the local ABC affiliate regarding the filming activities in Portland of a movie starring Harrison Ford and Brendan Fraser. The production company was looking for extras, and there was to be an event at the Doubletree Hotel near Lloyd Center to apply. I drove into town at the appointed time on a rainy Saturday morning only to discover a line around the block of aspiring extras. As I was not dressed for an extended wait in the rain, and not inclined to wait in line for a long time, I decided to bail on this opportunity. A few days later, however, I noted a story online that talked about the company that was providing the extras for the movie. A local company called Extras Only was supplying the extras, and had a website that could be used for signing up. The process was really quite easy. Once I created my account, I filled out a profile that described various attributes. Firstly, they wanted to know about physical stuff; height, weight, hair color, clothing sizes, etc. Then, they wanted to know about any specials skills, like specific sports and other activities. They also wanted to know if you had any union affiliations, though general extra work doesn’t require union membership. Additionally, they asked that you upload a current picture, and optionally, pictures of any vehicles you owned that might be available.
Once the account was created, I waited for the offers to pour in.
Well, the offers didn’t exactly pour in, but after a few weeks I got an e-mail indicating I had been selected as a potential candidate, and that I should submit availability for a date a week or so in the future. I was available (meaning I could use a vacation day), and indicated so on the website. A few days later I received an e-mail saying I was “not needed”, meaning I was not selected for the job. This process repeated for two or three more iterations, before I finally the notice: “You got the job!”.
Thus begins my acting résumé:
This was a film shot in the Portland metro area starring Harrison Ford, Brendan Fraser and Keri Russell. My role was “Zymagen employee”. The working title at the time was “Untitled Crowley Project”, referring to the main character’s last name (a real person by the name of John Crowley). I was issued a badge with my picture on it.
The photo used was the one I had uploaded to Extras Only for my profile. I was used for two weekends in May of 2009. The highlight was a scene I appeared in with Harrison Ford. I was really quite starstruck. This has been the highlight of all of my experiences so far. When Jan and I saw this scene if the theater the first time I was almost overwhelmed. It is just the coolest thing to see yourself on the movie screen with a movie icon like Mr. Ford. I still get goosebumps when I see it.
In June of 2010, I was selected to be a traveler in episode 9 of season 3, “The King George Job”. This episode was filmed at the Oregon Convention Center, made up to look like Boston’s Logan airport. I am visible multiple times in this scene, but this is the closest to a “close-up”:
In May of 2011, I was called to the set of “Gone”, a feature film shot in Portland. I was cast as a pedestrian/driver. The highlight of this experience was the food, as I was never in front of the camera. Thus, no screenshots to post. There is a possibility that Jan’s car may be visible in one of the shots though.
For three very long nights in June of 2011, I was once again on the set of Leverage, once again at the Oregon Covention Center, and once again in an “airport”. This time, the airport made made to look like a fictitious Cincinnati airport, and I was portraying an airline pilot. This was my first role requiring wardrobe provided by the production company.
For as long as I spent on the set, I did not get much screen time, and most of that is very deep background. This is my best on screen appearance (that’s me right in the middle).
I had spent quite a bit of effort documenting this episode in a blog post, but I lost several hours worth of work, because he drafts weren’t saving correctly.
During the summer of 2011, I noticed some activity in the building I used to work in (I had recently been moved out of that building to a location nearby). As I walked through the old parking lot on the way to lunch one day, I noticed some placards on the dashboards of the cars parked there: “Grimm”.
It was also around this time that the local news stations were broadcasting stories about a new NBC series being filmed in Portland. They had moved their production office into the building I had worked in for 15 years. It was apparent Extras Only was not handling the extras casting for Grimm. A quick Google search found a link online to sign up for being an extra for Grimm, and I submitted my résumé. Since Grimm handled their own casting, the process was a little different. On August 1st, I received a phone call from one of the extras coordinators asking if I was available on August 3rd. That was very short notice, but I was available. I was informed I would be playing a cop. The shooting took place at the old Customs House in northwest Portland. I was fitted with an actual Portland Police Bureau uniform and I did my thing.
This job was a little unusual in that I only worked about seven hours and they didn’t feed me. I was visible twice in the episode, however briefly.
On October 21st of 2011, I reprised my role as Portland cop. For this episode, we filmed on location in NW Portland at NW 29th and Savier at a “crime scene”. I felt pretty good about getting some good screen time as I was pretty close to the action for most of this scene. Turns out you didn’t get a very good look at me.
I can post this behind the scenes picture now, since this episode has aired. This very nice actress portrayed the “victim”. Her tongue had been removed.
After we wrapped this location (see, I’m picking up the lingo), we adjourned to the soundstage near my office in northwest Portland and worked well into the night on the Precinct set. All of that effort resulted in zero screen time.
Leverage season 5 is currently shooting in Portland, but I haven’t landed a role yet. Stand by for further adventures!
I was on the set of Leverage once again in July of 2012, and once again I was directed to the Oregon Convention Center. The twist this time is that it will be portrayed as the Oregon Convention Center (not as the Boston or Cincinnati airport). This episode aired on December 18, 2012. Sadly, this was to be the second to last episode of Leverage, as it was announced that there will be no season six. I was disappointed in my on screen time in this episode. At the time of shooting, I felt like I would be easily visible. As the screenshot blow indicates, I barely made it into the frame. Also of note: this episode was directed by Jonathan Frakes, of Star Trek: The Next Generation fame.
Through some connections on Facebook, I was able to score a “featured extra” job on “Bad Signs“. The pay? Zero. But, an IMDB credit was held out as a carrot. IMDB credit was something I have been wanting for quite some time, so I jumped at the chance. The film is being shot with a low budget, but with a professional crew. I reported for duty at the ultra classy Taboo Adult Video store in SE Portland at 10:00 AM. I am glad we were shooting during the daylight, because that is a pretty sketchy neighborhood. No release date has been set yet. I believe shooting started just days ago. Very nice crew; I’d love to work with them again.
I was concerned I might not make an appearance in season 2 of Grimm, but my opportunity finally came in October. I spent a very rainy morning on location in the Pearl as a “Crime Scene Unit Tech”. I was soaking wet by the end of the day, but I think you’ll get a look at me. I am surrounded by the lead characters, though I am kneeling down for much of it. This was a very exciting scene involving automatic weapons. This will air after the first of the year.
Update: Didn’t get as much screentime as I thought, but here I am.
For the season finale of season 2, I was employed as a hotel bellman. In April of 2013, I was in a scene in front of “The Gregory” condos in the Pearl District of NW Portland. The camera is on me as I load some bags into the trunk of a very nice black Mercedes. As I closed the trunk, it reveals Captain Renard’s brother (James Frain) and his bodyguard emerging from the “hotel”. They get in the car and speed away as Captain Renard observes unseen.
This was a lot of fun to shoot. The residents of The Gregory were very curious and wanted to hear all about being an extra. They had us posing for pictures, too. The jacket and hat were handmade for me me overnight by the wardrobe department. I stopped in their production Office the afternoon before to get fitted for the costume. As it happens, their office is in a building that I worked in for 15 years. The former server room is now filled with racks of wardrobe
It turns out through the magic of editing, I was not visible while loading the bags into the car. I was visible briefly in the “establishing shot” at the very beggining of the episode, so all is not lost.
Can’t say much about it now, but I spent a day on the set of Portlandia on October 8 as a participant of a “walking tour”. Lots of screen time on this one. I expect high visibility when this episode airs, sometime after the first of the year. The Portlandia set is very relaxed, and Fred and Carrie were both very nice. I will update with more details after the show airs.
Grimm – Episode 313
Spent a cold day on the set of Grimm for what will likely result in zero screen time. I got a call for “Precinct Detective” for this episode. Call time was 7:18 AM, and I had already had a vacation day planned. This was the first Grimm episode I’ve done that required my own wardrobe. “Precinct Detective” equals “sports coat/slacks/tie” so that was easy. Seemed pretty obvious they had more detectives (and cops) than needed, so a few of us didn’t get much work. There were quite a few “Desk Detectives” there, meaning regulars that had “spot” at a desk. You may get a glimpse of may tan jacket from Captain Renard’s office (through his blinds, across the precinct and in the back hallway), or perhaps a flash of red hair with grey jacket as “Nick” completes a phone call and leaves the precinct. Extras holding was outside under a canopy with 3-1/2 sides and a non-functional heater. It hovered around 40 degrees for most of the morning, along with some rain. No idea what the episode was titled, nor any inkling as to the storyline. Still, it was fun, and met some nice folks.