The shoot was last Friday. Since I know people like to know every detail about this kind of experience, I’ll posting everything I can remember.
The entire week they were shooting the movie “7 to the Palace” in my neighborhood, Jackson Heights. After spectating for 5 days, I walked up to one of the crewmembers and asked if they needed any actors. The girl in charge was very excited to sign me up. She said she would email me the details that night.
It was no pay but they would buy us lunch. The coordinator asked me to bring as many people as I could. 7am was the supposed crew call. I negotiated 8am because I just cannot look at numbers that tiny on the clock. I was only able to get Dene to come, basically because it’s not often people are off during the weekday. I was glad he could come. He slept on the air mattress in my apartment that night. No one asked if we were union.
That night after work, I wanted to go right to sleep so I’d be fresh the next day. Dene is impervious to sleep deprivation and suggested we go out when I got home (after midnight). I absolutely refused, and for once I wouldn’t budge. As for his night, he had 4 cups of coffee at 10pm, came to my place by 1am and was up until 4 reading in my kitchen because my main room has no lights. There are no moveable lights in my apartment.
I barely get up at 730am, but that monkey is already up, showered, shaved and dressed. I don’t ask why my rocking chair is in my kitchen. We both put on our fedoras and leave. 3 minutes later we arrive at the Tandoori Palace – the fake restaurant created by the makers of “7 to the Palace”.
It’s 8am and Little India is a ghost town for at least 2 more hours. We arrive at the restaurant, but it’s all closed up. The grating is down with no one in sight. I’m sweating a bit because she said they would be there at 7am. We head over to Expresso 77 to pass some time and let Dene have his double expresso.
About an hour later, we head over to the restaurant. There are a couple of people milling around and they tell me to go to “holding” which is located at the public school 3 blocks away. There we finally got our grounding when we saw the girl who signed me up. She said she sent out an email late last night changing the crew call to 10pm. ajdfoiap asodfjasp fasfpasfkopak!@#!@#.
We signed some forms which I did not read. They told us there would be a scene at 1030 and another at 330.
The 1030 scene was a ghost! They filmed with a few extras who were dressed in saris and were actually Indian. The rest of us waited in holding. At around 1100, some of the staff brought in some food. Oh yeah food! I was really excited to see what kind of food they would bring in. Well, they slapped on the cafeteria table 4 loafs of white bread, peanut butter, jelly, cheese sticks, and 2 plates full of sterile meat which reminded me of the kind we were served at Surprise Lake camp when I was a pre-teen.
At this point I thought the day was fruitless. I wasn’t working and I was given absolute crap to eat. No one ate a bit of the food. I made Dene a sandwich consisting of 1 slice of bread, mystery meat, and one of those polly-o string cheese things. He ate one bite then scoffed. I ate one bite then threw it out. The spread was an insult to the staff.
One of the coordinators told me the directors wanted us around just in case they needed an extra. I am pretty bored so I tell her to call me if anything happens while I go home and pick up some supplies. From my apartment I brought my laptop in hopes of wifi (none) and an homemade othello board. We wasted time back at holding by talking to this weird extra guy who once played a child molester a little too well and playing othello until 230pm. Dene and I split our two game series.
We finally get called to the shoot. The 10 of us walk over in military fashion. All this organization made me feel like summer camp again. We then waited on the side of a building for another 45 minutes until finally we were summoned to shoot.
The culmination of our day comes when we are told to stand outside the front window of the restaurant like we are trying to get in. Like we are dying to get in. I get a primo spot in front of the window. If the scene is not cut, you will most likely see me in my fedora outside the window where a scene takes place. Everyone was a little giddy to finally be doing something. I was especially excited when I saw that Indian guy from the Wes Anderson movies, Kumar Pallana. In this scene, he ended the shot by running out in our direction. He was all smiles and seemed like a really nice guy.
This goes on for 30 minutes then they break for lunch. That’s right, the mystery meat plus PB&J was not lunch after all, it was just a snack.
They take us to the flagship of Little India, Jackson Diner. It is an Indian buffet which everyone has heard about. Food was passable and in regards to the decor, my friend Rose says it reminds her of the Jetsons.
By the time lunch is done, I had to cut out and go to work. Now the lone fedora, Dene stays and told me that it became pretty unorganized with them still standing outside. None of the extras actually went inside the restaurant. I didn’t miss much.
There was a lot of waiting around. It was frustrating. I felt like I was wasting my time for 90 percent of the day. How much would they have to pay me to make me feel like my time was not being wasted? I’m glad to be a part of a Jackson Heights film which will promote the community though. That is the saving grace of the experience.
A remaining question is: will my name be in the credits? I doubt it, even most of the peons of the organization seemed to care very little about the extras. At least I will stand out in the movie. Look for the fedora in the window.