onsdag 23 november 2011

VancouverSun: "I was a teenage vampire movie extra" from #BreakingDawn

VANCOUVER — Working on any movie is a lot like camping, but being an extra in Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, with its secret remote location and total ban on electronic devices, made us feel like inmates in a prison camp.
As guests at the biggest vampire wedding in film history, we were bussed from West Vancouver to Squamish and offloaded at the base camp, or “circus,” which snaked down an easement in the forest. After wardrobe, hair and makeup, we passed through “checkpoint charlie” metal detectors, then rode in vans to the extras “holding” tents where we sat for hours eating junk food.
On a couple of nights, one of the producers came to warn us about their security team, including frogmen on the river, to prevent anyone from photographing the set. We must not inform anyone of the set’s location and must report any coercion, he said. And no speaking to the actors, no matter what. We were among the “fortunate few” to be chosen, he reminded us, but our participation depends on our compliance with security. Have a nice evening.
You won’t see me in that night’s scene, where the happy couple exit the reception, since I was practically standing in the forest. Nor was I visible in the next day’s wedding ceremony, when I was placed so far from the aisle as to need binoculars.
We sat in the wedding set for two days, on logs that seemed to grow into benches under a canopy of wisteria. A quick shot to rise and turn toward to the bride, then more waiting and shivering. And was that thunder or an avalanche in the distance?
The next morning, I saw a frogman on the opposite river bank. Security was on high alert, a crew member told me. That morning, paparazzi in wet suits had tried to swim past. An extra with a camera had been ejected the day before. All of them seeking a $100,000 photo of the bride.
Before the ceremony, Robert Pattinson stood around being handsome and smoking at every chance. Kristen Stewart looked amazing in her modest gown, but appeared freaked out about something. They cuddled and he seemed to console her. It was a real-life drama playing out before us and all we extras could do was gawk. Aw, how sweet, they really love each other.
Then, a helicopter began to circle and production stopped. Walkie-talkies spouted angry instructions, security people scurried, and giant black umbrellas were opened over the actors to block views from the air. The battle against the paparazzi was on and we sat freezing for two hours waiting for a truce.
The next night’s scene was the wedding reception, on a set done up like a hobbit banquet. The Assistant Director looked us over and pointed to me and another woman. “You and you, the principle and the math teacher.” We were put into a shot where we had to mime congratulations and walk away, which made me feel more like the “fortunate few” and less of a production prisoner.
As the other gal and I worked out who was the principle and who the math teacher, we laughed about the set, the story and the now pouring rain. By the time we were face to face with Pattinson and Stewart we were suppressing snorts. I was dying to tell Stewart how much I loved Runaways, but we were bound by celebrity gag order, which made for the most awkward party moments ever.
After one rehearsal, shooting began. I mimed my congratulations, but then, as if time had slowed, I paused, like I had more words to mime. Then, came my ultimate humiliation.
I looked down and saw Kristen Stewart lifting her tiny hand and baby waving me away. Mortified, I could not have turned away faster without spilling my fake champagne. By the time Principle Sarah and I had joined a circle of guests, I was hyperventilating and sweating. I couldn’t believe I’d dragged a two-second shot into three seconds! But, like all movies, they shot more takes, so I was able to redeem myself, although it meant more uncomfortable moments shunning the actors.
Seven months later, I watched the film only to find my big moment had been cut and replaced by banter with the werewolf family. I wasn’t crushed since being edited out is what I’ve come to expect no matter how much I hope for inclusion. After all, being a background extra means you are always a guest and never a bridesmaid.

vancouversun | cupidscloud

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