Memory, or not.

I went to a great class yesterday, a workshop on improvisation for camera work, and among the things we were supposed to learn was a memory trick to remember a list of up to ten things.  Now that was quite a deal for me, as I sometimes have difficulty recalling a list of a half a thing, let alone ten things.

You might ask, as did someone (not I) in the class, why we need to memorize anything if we are improvising. I did think that was a good question, and while I am failing to remember what the actual answer was, it had something to do with being at an audition and being required to remember stuff. Go figure.

We all stood in a circle and our fabulous instructor took us through a practice round of recall.  This instructor had already shared that he is a list-maker (that almost caused me to get out of Dodge, as I don’t really even know what a list is–but see the post on to-do’s), and because of that is a guy who remembers lists.  Our practice round ended with varied degrees of success, I might say.  Me being the bottom variable, unfortunately.

However, I was able to recall about half of the ten things after we went through the practice.  Quite a success, really.

The problem is that I cannot remember how we did it.  I did have fun, though.



The sound of dreams shattering.  The sound of bubbles bursting, of inflated egos crashing to earth.  The sound of visions of stardom falling.  Hearing the cuts falling to the editing room floor.  A terrible noise, expected yet not.

Last night, my zombie episode appeared on Z-Nation.  Remember the hours in make-up?  The shoots, resets,shoots?  The hours of waiting, then action!  Ah well.  My total appearance in the episode was a shot of the top and back of my head going through the door to the morgue.  Most of the scenes we spent those hours working on were cut.  Me with them.

I truly was a great zombie!  Maybe next year (they have officially been awarded a second season, although it is not certain yet that they will film here).  I am not giving up.  There is still the judge.

And the commercial!  Not to mention the movie scene!  Perhaps I have not mentioned those?  I played half of an “elderly couple” (how dare they?) in a Northern Quest Casino commercial.  We were walking in the door to the casino.  The movie was admittedly a student film, but I played an attendee at the funeral of a pirate mom that was filmed in a local funeral home.

Perhaps there is hope!  There need not be another splat!  Once heard, though, the deafening sound cannot be undone.   All I can say is, I have the acting bug, and I mean to continue trying.  Lights.  Camera.  Action!!!!!!

Dead Girl Walking, sort of.

Well.  I can now say that I have been immortalized on film.  Not just any film, but a film that is to be distributed internationally.  Admittedly, I will probably only be visible for about thirty seconds, and also I will be totally unrecognizable.  However, I can truthfully state—I am in pictures!!!!!


My first call was this week, and I had no idea what to expect.  All I was told was to bring a folding chair and stuff to keep me busy.  So.  Once I found the base camp, I checked in and did the paperwork, and my wrangler told me where to go.  First, off to wardrobe.  I wore my own paint jeans and shoes and they supplied a shirt to go with.  They noted that I already had blood on my jeans (I had recently finished painting my garage barn red–that’s my story and I am sticking to it) and were grateful.  I could tell.

Then, off to makeup.  My, my.  Sprayed, painted, dusted, you name it, I got it.  It took my makeup artist about a half hour to zombie me, and everyone agreed I looked smashing.  I hesitate to say it was an improvement over the reality, but it was definitely different.  Let’s just say the zombie colors brought out the blue in my eyes.  Wowser.

Then.  Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait some more.  Lunch.  Wait, wait, wait, wait.  Action! Reset. Seven times for one shot.  You will see me–I am the third Z in.  So, seven resets.  Wait, wait, wait.  I took advantage of the wait to do a round of tai chi outside the holding pen.  One of the crew walked by as I was finishing the round and said it was pretty awesome to see a zombie doing tai chi! Then, wait, wait, wait, action!  More action!  OMG, more action!  Unfortunately, when I am having a great time I tend to want to laugh.  So, I was the zombie who was cracking up.  I think my back was to the camera.  If not, I suppose they will have to cut me.  Oh, sadness!  The zombie behind me was pretty well scrunched up against me and had his hand on my back to maintain the proprieties.  I was laughing so hard!  When they yelled “cut”, he asked if I was all right.  Guess he thought I was crying.  By the time they finally yelled “wrap”, I was probably the zombie they thought had got hold of some mary jane (no, not me).  But I have to tell you, that first day was hilarious and wonderful and I loved every second from “rolling” to “action” to “cut”, and even to “reset”, “reset”, all the way through to “wrap it”.

OK, then they asked me to come back after a day off!  Oh joy!  This was an early call, and while those of you who know me are aware that alarms are alarming to me, I was ready for this one!  Off I went.  Wardrobe (same shirt).  Makeup.  One of the artists said she had heard I was doing zombie tai chi and she wanted to join me for a round or two.  (How did she know it was me?)  I had a new makeup guy, and I was his first zombie, so he did me up really spectacularly.  As soon as we had enough zombies ready to go, we were bussed to the shoot and herded into a large room to, guess what?  wait.  Wait more.  Action!  Run, run, run.  Reset.  Reset.  Reset.  More action. And on and on all day and until the light was gone.  No tai chi today because they did not want us to go outside.  But the action was exercise enough.  It was another absolutely wonderful day on the set.

I can’t say much in detail because they asked us not to.  What I can say is that I have a new appreciation of people who make movies.  They are fun, friendly, very good at what they do, be it wrangling zombie extras, applying makeup, or getting newbies to understand what they want us to do in any given scene, and care deeply about doing things right.

As for me.  I was not the best zombie by far.  But I may have been the zombie who most enjoyed it all.  My glare and my growl and my zombie gait improved with repetition.  The hardest part was to remember to growl and bare my bloody teeth in a dangerous hungry scowl, when what I really wanted to do each and every moment was to grin and laugh and jump up and down in pure ecstasy.

Rolling!  Action!  Cut!  Reset!  Rolling!  Action!  Cut!  Reset!  Wrap.

More, please!

Zombie Walkin’

Oh boy!  Today I, along with about 600 other people, auditioned to be a regular zombie extra for a new syfy channel TV series.  I have to say, it was a true blast, one I would like to enjoy every day.  At this sort of late date, I have found my true career–zombie.  Or rather, star of stage and screen.  Yes, that.  I have been bitten by the fame bug, or vampire as the case may be.  Let me tell you the story.

A while back, I happened to notice an ad for extras for this new TV series–Z Nation–that will be filmed here where I live.  The call was for zombie extras, and of course that perked my ears right up.  The chance to be a zombie!  Who could resist?  So I had my sister take my head and body shots, and got online and registered at the talent agency, and oh wow, they said they would love to represent me.  Visions of sugarplums!

They sent me suggestions of zombie videos to watch, to get in character.  They told me that if I was chosen to audition, I would need to be able to do a zombie walk and look scary, so I started practicing looking scary (that is not particularly easy!).  Oh joy, what fun!  (The cats disapproved, by the way, even though I promised not to eat them.)  So I was selected for the audition!  Geezo, I am on the way to Hollywood.

My time to show my stuff today was 1pm.   I wanted to wear my Grateful Dead t-shirt, but I couldn’t find it, so I made do with a VW bug t-shirt.  Got there, checked in, #11 of Group 9, which consisted of a total of 45 like-minded folks.  Doing the math (my first career was as an accountant, so I always have to do the math), I figured that about 450 people were selected besides me, and since the day was still fairly young, there would probably be another 150 to 200 after me.  Of course, they all could have just stayed home, really.

OK, here we go.  As you know, there are two kinds of zombies, fast (newly dead) and slow (long dead).  They move differently, with fast zombies being, well, fast, and slow zombies being slow.   We had been told that the key to acing the audition was to listen and follow direction.  So I listened.  Also I followed direction.  There was a woman at one end of the room with some tinkle bells and a guy at the other end with a drum.  Zombies, you know, react only to sound, so we were to be slow zombies moving to munch on the woman when she was tinkling her bells, and fast zombies moving the other way to munch on the guy when he was tapping his drum.    But, we had to wait to move until the director said “go”.  We were to make two walks in each direction.  We went on stage in groups of five.  I was in the third group.  A surprising number of zombie hopefuls failed to wait for the director’s directions.  I, on the other hand, am quite good at following orders (hah!).

My zombie walk was the cat’s pajamas (really fun, for you youngsters).  My slow walk was really slow and nicely jerky, and my change to a fast zombie was tai chi grace in action (if I do say so myself).  I did, however, forget to be scary.  But I did not laugh.  There were some other, ahem, older zombies in Group 9, but I was one of the few of them who could actually run, as fast zombies are wont to do.  My two minutes of fame were absolutely wonderful, something I will remember always.  But as much or more fun was watching the others in the group.  After about the 4th group of five had done their walks, people started adding sound effects– grunts, squeals, roars and such.  It was so funny, we all could not help laughing.  Truly, this was something I would not have missed for the world.

The goal of the audition today was to choose 3o to 40 “regulars”, extras (no speaking role) who would appear in many of the shows.  There will also be plain extras, who will be called upon more occasionally.  There were five or six really good zombies in Group 9, and I was not one of them, but I think I might have a chance to be a plain extra.  If nothing else, my age is a plus factor.   I hope, I hope, I hope they call me!

Today was more fun than a barrel of zombies!  I want to go to every single audition for any part.  Where has the camera been all my life?