I grabbed onto a bar on the back of the golf cart and barely avoided slipping into the road. “Hold on, back there!” called someone in front.
It’s a little late for that, I thought as we zoomed to the top of the hill. Less than a minute later we reached a maze of people, cameras, and an old green station wagon. I got out of the cart as a young man approached.
“I’m supposed to give this phone to Rick.”
“I’m Rick. Come with me.”
I followed him to the car, which was being spray-painted, and got into the front seat next to a small girl with short dark hair. “We’re supposed to shoot at eight, but we’re not going to make it,” she said. She’d stood in once or twice before, and seemed confident, but the only advice she gave was, “Never look directly into the camera.”
As men with strange instruments approached my window, I stared straight ahead. The girl said, “You’re a natural.”
I think she was being sarcastic, but I’m not sure exactly what she meant. She showed me some of the script Christina Ricci and Bess Armstrong would use during the scene. It sounded so different from the first That Darn Cat movie. We turned on the heat, which caused a terrible noise, then I kicked the microphone on my way out of the car. At least I rubbed elbows with Christina as I exited, and Bess asked, “Is the car warm?”
I told her it was a little warm, then I started up the street where the other extras waited in their positions for the scene to begin. Soon the old station wagon started up the street on a trailer with cameras all around it, and the actresses performed the scene. When they prepared for the next one, crew members shouted, “Loud noise!”
The stand-in I worked with was involved in the stunt, and the car (now on the road) ram- med into a fire hydrant. Steam erupted, people cheered, then we broke for lunch. I had no idea extras had to be last in line. I noticed some standing to the side, saying they were being treated as if they weren’t human but, enjoying the blissful side of ignorance, I continued into the building.
The food was unbelievable. Someone mentioned oysters on the half shell, and there were all kinds of desserts, meats, salads, etc. What’s even harder to believe is that it was all done in a catering truck. I squeezed by directors, actors, camera men, and many others who’d gathered to bring the movie to life, finding a seat across from two or three policemen. Or were they actors? I felt so overwhelmed by everyone, I was afraid to ask.
We went out again after the meal, and this time I was a regular extra. I think my favorite scene took place on the town square. Another lady and I were instructed to sit on benches in the gazebo and eat pretzels while Christina and another actress shot the scene. The sun was out, dispelling the cold, and it was a lovely day.
Everything was fine until wasps showed up and landed on our food. We couldn’t really swat at them or stand up during the take, so we surreptitiously waved them away, trying to protect ourselves. Two extras who walked past the gazebo during the shot said there were some coming out of the ground. We survived, and it’s one of only three scenes I show up in.
Another memorable scene was in front of a church during the car chase in the movie. I felt like I was back in high school, waiting for our teacher to tell us what to do. Crew members gave us mounds of tissue, and we were told to act like we were crying. We waited for the car and truck to zoom down the road toward us, running away when they approached, then we turned back as the cars veered away, narrowly missing the hearse. We listened to an actress’s lines and watched her play her role, with no idea that most of it would be cut, replaced with a voice over: “It’s not Him!”
The most exciting scene was the destruction of the gazebo. It happened during a car chase, and many gathered to watch. All in all, working on a movie was an interesting experience, although the early hours and cold weather were taxing at times. I got to be near some stars, and a couple of extras were even mistaken as stars by onlookers.