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.
*UPDATE* – This is episode 10 of season 4, “Getting Away“. I am in the “New Beavertown” segment.
*UPDATE* – Yes – I got some pretty good screen time in this episode. It didn’t really feel the like story we understood we were working on was what ended up in the episode. There were a set of extras (at least two of whom were Portlandia crew) involved in a scene where Fred and Carrie (Peter and Nance) came upon a re-enactment of the founders of New Beavertown interacting with a beaver. They were dressed in 80’s (1980’s) clothing, as that is when the city was founded. I didn’t really get what they were going for, so I’m not surprised it didn’t make the cut.
Spent a cold day on the set of Grimm on December 2nd 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 when the episode will air, nor any inkling as to the storyline. Still, it was fun, and met some nice folks.
*UPDATE* – This episode will air Friday, February 28, 2014.
*UPDATE* – No screen time for me in this episode. You’ll just have to take my word for it. :-)
“Beech Knoll Road” is a locally produced feature film, apparently shot as a “mockumentary”. I spent the evening of December 10th at Kelly’s Olympian in downtown Portland, The NDA prevents me from sharing too much, but I can say I had a blast at this shoot. It is being directed by Luis Garcia, a very talented young man, and the cast a crew were all great to work with. I think I’ll get some good screen time in the scene I worked in. This job was vetted outside the auspices of Extras Only. I’m building up a nice Facebook network of film/TV contacts, so I expect to see more of this activity.
This was a very similar experience as my last Grimm appearance. Very rainy and cold again, but the heater worked this time! Perhaps too well. It was pretty stuffy in the tent. There were about 40 extras crammed into an 18′ x 18′ tent. Hopefully, this picture of our “home away from set” doesn’t violate any NDAs:
I was a precinct detective again this week. Hopefully I can get in with the regulars and get more work. This turned out to be a very long day – 13-1/2 hours. We had some snowy weather in Portland the week before, so I think they were trying to make up some time. I got to stand near one of the Grimm regulars that I had not been in a scene with before. I can’t reveal who that is because it’s kind of a spoiler right now. I’ll update my fanboyishness after the episode airs. David Giuntoli said hello to a small group of us near his desk between takes, so that was a nice treat. I didn’t get any work at all until after (a very nice) lunch. There are two opportunities to see me in this episode. One, when a character rushes into the hall in the precinct to confront Captain Renard. You might see me from the angle behind Renard coming out of the “bullpen” on the left, reacting to the confrontation. Another is when Nick and Hank are reacting to a mysterious visitor that has come into the precinct. There is a shot of Nick and Hank looking toward the back of the bullpen. I’m standing near a large TV display, interacting with other officers and detectives. It looks like this episode will air April 4th, 2014.
*UPDATE* This episode aired April 11th, 2014. You didn’t see me when Adalind confronted Captain Renard (just missed me, thanks for nothing, editors), but I was visible during the prince’s visit to the precinct:
This seems worthy of note; the Grimm twitter account (@NBCGrimm) posted a picture with me (barely) in the background. https://twitter.com/NBCGrimm/status/456941545321955329
A new series is being shot in Portland by Dean Devlin, the producer of “Leverage”. Shooting began the week of April 14, 2014 and I received a notice for, and was booked for, “Fundraiser Patron”. Wardrobe called for “upscale attire” in dark colors, so I brought my nice blue “wedding suit” (yes, it still fits), and also bought a new black suit on sale at Kohl’s for $100. I can’t really say much at all about what this episode is all about, and I’m not really positive if this is episode 101 or 102 (the call sheet said both). I can say that I believe I got some very good screen time. The series stars Noah Wyle, Rebecca Romijn, and Christian Kane (of Leverage). There is another young actor named “John”* that I am not familiar with, but he is Australian. He was a very pleasant young man and chatted with a few of us between takes. I must say Rebecca Romijn, is the most attractive woman I’ve ever been in the same room with (next to Jan, of course).
This was definitely a Dean Devlin production, as it had “Leverage” stamped all over it. Quite literally, as a matter of fact. My parking receipt was validated with a “Leverage” stamp. I recognized many of the crew as folks I had worked with in the Leverage days (including Christian Kane). There was also the signature smoke, and I heard talk of a “Ninja Zoom”, though not in a scene I was in. Another Leverage indicator was the very long day. The call time was 8:30 AM, and I wrapped at 12:42 AM.
There was a very new and different experience in this episode. There was a requirement that several of us know how to waltz. Yes, like the Dancing With The Stars thing. There were perhaps a dozen extras that had some experience, but more were required. One of the Assistant Directors came up to me in extras holding and asked if I knew how to waltz. My response was “not a step”. His response? “You will learn”. So – an additional ten or so of us were taken to a different room and were given a crash course in the waltz by a very nice young man who is a professional dance instructor. I cannot say I am now a dancer, but I think I pulled off something approximating a waltz. As long as the camera angle stays off my feet, I think I’ll be OK. I spent most of my day dancing. I am grateful I had a partner that had some experience and was also very patient with me. I was very near Rebecca Romijn and Noah Wyle during these scenes, so I think you’ll see me quite a bit. Did I mention Rebecca Romijn is gorgeous? Holy cow. I am very curious to see how this looks on camera.
I think that’s all I can say about this episode for now. It sounds like the series will not air until the fall of 2014 sometime.
* The actor’s name is John Kim. That is apparently a pretty old picture on the IMDB page.
This episode aired on December 7, 2014. I am pretty happy with the screen time I got, though there wasn’t much in the ballroom scene. Just one quick glimpse of me reacting to the power surge caused by the “sword in the stone” shenanigans in the dungeon below Buckingham Palace:
I was in another scene where a group of us are queued to be admitted to the Palace. I was given a prop invitation.
In this scene, Noah, Christian and John are in line just ahead of me with forged invitations. They are nervously waiting to go inside.
In August of 2014, I was able to participate in another episode of Portlandia. I got a text from the extras coordinator, Cam, on a Saturday. He asked for availability for the following Friday. It happened I already had a day off scheduled, so I eagerly accepted. On Thursday evening, I received the e-mail with call time and location instructions. I can’t share the location and other details right now, but the shoot was to be outdoors, and I was to dress casually.
The location was very casual, so I elected shorts and a golf shirt, but brought some options, just in case. The call time was 7:00 AM, so that meant I would get up at my normal time for a workday. I wasn’t sure about traffic for part of the trip, so I gave myself extra time. The additional time was not needed, so I arrived quite early. I used the extra time to stop at a nearby 7-11 to pick up some snacks.
Once I arrived, I found the base camp and got checked in. Cam recognized me and handed me the NDA and pay voucher to fill out and sign. This was a particularly “fun” location, so we all had a great time filming. Part of the theme was a father/son day, so I was paired with a 15 year old fellow ginger, who was to be my “son”.
Truman’s real dad was there as well, but I apparently looked more like his dad than his dad did. The were 3 sets of “father-son” extras, none of whom were related.
I’ll share more details when the episode airs, but suffice it to say I had a lot of fun on this one. It was only a 3-1/2 hour shoot, but I think I will have plenty of screen time again in this episode.
This episode aired January 15, 2015. I didn’t get a lot of screen time, but what I got was good. Plus, it was a fun episode to watch.
I had to wait until almost halfway through the shooting season, but I finally got a job on Grimm season 4. This one turned out to be a little tricky schedule-wise, as the shooting dates were not set in stone. They were asking for 3 days out of possible one week period. They also said night shoots were likely. The role was “Wesenrein Judge” and the pay rate was a little higher at $100 per day (instead of the normal $72.80). I committed to the role, hoping I could get by on using half days of vacation. I got the notice that I got the job the following day. Interestingly, the Extras Only notes indicated the director would be personally selecting the extras for this shoot.
The schedule turned out to be a Wednesday/Thursday/Friday the week of Halloween. The call time for Wednesday was 10:00 AM, but I needed to go to wardrobe on Tuesday at 9:00 AM to get fitted for my clothes. As before for wardrobe fittings, I went to my former ESCO building 33 to get fitted. They provided two sets of clothes (including brand new boots), as well as a half mask and a black and red hooded robe.
I went in to work (my “real” job) early on Wednesday so I could work four hours and use half a vacation day to cover the rest. The location was near Saint Johns, so it would be about a twenty minute drive from work. The weather forecast was definitely a bit sketchy; we were bound to see some rain and cool temperatures. We were scheduled to shoot outdoors, so we were encouraged to wear layers.
I arrived on time and got checked in in an old warehouse in Saint Johns. We were issued our wardrobe and changed in a breezy tent in the warehouse. There were about 20 of us, all issued robes of various design. Four of us (judges) had black robes with red trim, the red had black robes with white trim. Each of the robes featured a Wolfsangel symbol:
The actual shooting location was in Pier Park in Saint Johns, about a mile away. We were loaded into a couple of vans (I got to ride in the fancy Mercedes can for the first time. I thought it was reserved for the “talent”). Upon arrival we were directed to extras holding, a smallish tent with a carpet thrown down over the muddy muck below. Footing in the tent was very squishy. After a bit, we were taken down to an area where the “Tribunal” was to take place, an abandoned, burned out structure (constructed by the Grimm crew).
The screengrab above was taken from the previews of upcoming episodes after episode 408.
The first order of business was to shoot the very end of episode 408. Monroe has been captured, and is to stand trial for consorting with a Grimm and marrying outside his bloodline. He is brought to the structure, and the judges emerge from the forest to take their places on the stand. This turned out to be two episodes, 408 and 409, with two different directors. The first half of the day was finishing up 408. Episode 409 was a continuation of the story, so the only real difference was the new director. We shot what could be considered a “chase scene” including some pretty gruesome activity I won’t spoil here. Most of the first day was relatively dry. The ground was wet and muddy, but was not actively raining for most of it.
Part of my wardrobe included a mask, which covered the top half of my face.
I was concerned you wouldn’t see my face if In had to wear the mask all the time, but that fear was assuaged later. The dinner that night did not disappoint. Grimm usually feeds you pretty well:
The second night of shooting was not nearly as pleasant weather-wise. It rained pretty much all night. The area we were shooting in was very muddy and swampy, with lots of standing water. The boots I was issued were brand new hiking boots, so my feet stayed mostly dry the first part of the night. There was a point, however, where a few of us were required to kneel in the mud for a while. My feet got wet and stayed wet for the rest of the night.
There was a high point during the evening, though. Sasha Roiz (Captain Renard) was working with us. Back in September, Mr. Roiz was a featured guest at the Rose City Comicon here in Portland. I purchased a photo op and autograph from him during the con. I found him to be a very charming and friendly man. I had him sign my Grimm poster that David Giuntoli had signed the previous year. I told him I had been an extra a few times for Grimm, so he signed my poster “John, quit hogging the camera”.
Between takes, I lifted up my mask, and Mr. Roiz saw and recognized me. He said “You again! Good to see you.” Later in the night, there was a scene where he was pointing a gun at me and some of the other judges. Between takes, he came over and shook my hand and said “It’s John, right?”. SWOON. What a super-nice guy. Enough about my man-crush on Sasha Roiz.
By the end of the second night of shooting, I was pretty much soaking wet. This was compounded by the fact that I was also acting as a stand-in for “Charlie Riken”, the head judge he Tribunal. So, in between scenes during camera setup, I had to be standing in the rain on a mark while others took shelter. It turns out I should have been paid at a higher rate for being a stand-in, but the PA who filled out my voucher didn’t note that, so I was out fifty bucks. Lesson learned I suppose.
The next day, wardrobe had cleaned our muddy clothes (I had been literally kneeling in mud the previous night), but my boots were still pretty wet. It was still raining a little bit, but most of the standing water was now gone. It was still very muddy. I am very surprised I didn’t witness a cast or crewmember take a spill. It was very slippery and uneven ground. More of the same for the Tribunal scenes. One nice development was that we got to take off our masks. After all the evidence is presented, we take off our masks to indicate a guilty verdict. The camera pans to each of us as well pull back our hoods and remove our masks. The rest of the evening was a bit spoilery, so I won’t share right now, but I think there is a decent chance of a close-up of my face. Speaking of spoilers, our PA told us Juliette was a Hexenbiest while we were shooting. It appears this episode will air January 16; I will update with more screenshots then.
**UPDATE** This episode aired January 23rd, 2015. As expected, I got some pretty good screen time. Not quite as much as I would have liked, but still very good. In the weeks following the airing of the episode, I got quite a few calls at work along the lines of “Hey – did I see you on Grimm the other day?”. This has really been the first of my Grimm work that made it easy to pick me out, even without knowing to look for me. Quite gratifying in that regard.
This last picture doesn’t have me in it, but some fun behind the scenes trivia. David was setting up for this shot as his “Grimm senses” hears the prosecutor coming after him. He told us it was ironic, as he is deafin his left ear.
…and finally, some video of my unmasking. Hopefully NBC won’t issue a takedown.