My Pictures From The Set Of 'Leatherheads'
A shot of football actors during filming of the movie "Leatherheads"
Ever since I thought I might have a chance at being in "Leatherheads," the upcoming 1920's period film which is actually a romantic comedy about the birth of professional football directed by and starring the one and only Hollywood superstar George Clooney (do you see him in that picture above--probably not since it's so small, but he's the one wearing #7 on the left-hand side), I've kinda felt like good things were about to happen for me.
Then when I got the fateful call late last month that the casting director wanted to use me as an extra in what is sure to be a blockbuster flick when it comes out in early 2008, I was totally surprised but overjoyed at the opportunity.
There's Jimmy Moore in his doorman costume in "Leatherheads"
A few weeks ago, I experienced my first time ever on the set of the "Leatherheads" movie during the taping of a scene where I portray the doorman of a hotel. That was an awesome time since my character was the only extra in the scene that Clooney's character actually talks to. They miked me up to give a line back, but then decided I didn't need one. YES I DO! PLEASE! LOL!
Nevertheless, it was still a fun experience and I thought that was the end of my work as an extra on a Hollywood film. But then I got another call from the casting office for "Leatherheads" earlier this week asking me if I would like to do some more extra work. Uh, let me think about it...HOW MANY WAYS CAN YOU SAY YES?! They said filming would begin on Thursday and last through Saturday if I could make it. You bet your sweet bippy me, myself, and I will all be there.
One of the old-timey cars used on the set of "Leatherheads"
What a weekend it was! The scenes were shot in a town about 45 minutes from my house called Travelers Rest, South Carolina and were all about simulating a football game during the movie where Clooney's team, which he is the quarterback, along with John Krasinski from NBC's The Office, who portrays the rising star of this new football league, are on their way to the big championship game. That's where some nearly 400 or so extras were strategically placed in certain sections of the stands and given instructions to cheer, react, and make the moviegoer believe we are responding to what's happening on the field. Through the magic of CGI, we'll be about 20,000 people when you watch the movie. COOL!
I don't think people have any idea how much time and energy goes into making a two-hour film happen, but I will tell you it's quite exhausting. And I've only been on the set for a few days--I can't imagine what it's like to be a member of the crew for the 5:00am reporting time to be on set and then working until past 8:00pm most nights. You think I'm joking, but those are the grueling hours so they can try to squeeze in every last second of work into each day to make the film what it needs to be.
It was surreal seeing everyone dressed in 1920's attire
You won't hear me complaining about it, though, because this is Hollywood baby! The hourly pay is only $7.00 for extras, but I'd do it for FREE just for a chance to be seen in a film expected to be watched by millions of people worldwide on the silver screen and then when it comes to DVD. Although my second experience on the set began on Thursday, they actually began shooting these scenes in Travelers Rest last Sunday when the co-star of "Leatherheads" Renee Zellweger was on the set. Oh dang, I hate I missed that and wish I'd been there! I still haven't seen her yet.
The extras who were there on Sunday and then again on Wednesday said I was lucky I didn't work those days because the heat was so unbearable. We had record-high temperatures here in the Upstate of South Carolina with the highs reaching in the mid-to-upper 80's in the middle of March. That wouldn't be bad if this was a movie set on a beach or if the costumes were shorts and T-shirts. But they had everyone wrapped up in layers of wool coats, scarfs, and top hats like they wore in the 1920's that got just a wee bit toasty under the baking sun.
This was my outfit as a football fan in "Leatherheads"
When I arrived on the set on Thursday, there was a significant cooling trend that came through and kept the highs in the lower 60's. Ahhhh, much better. Even still, it was very windy, cloudy, and a fine mist of rain was coming down for a while during our filming (FOOTBALL WEATHER!). In fact, at one point the rain began coming down hard enough that they sent us all back inside to eat lunch while they waited for Mother Nature to cooperate. I suppose unpredictable weather is one of those things that filmmakers deal with and can't really control.
We ended up waiting in the extras holding area for about seven hours before a member of the casting crew came in and said, "Okay, you can go home for the day." Yep, that's how it goes. The natives were getting restless from being bored out of our minds doing nothing and we were hoping for more action come Friday. We weren't disappointed. After another 5:00am call time, we were on the set by 8:00am and got in a LOT of filming of various takes, retakes, retakes, and...(did I mention we had some retakes? Hee hee!) before lunch came at 2:00pm.
There were several times when the camera passed right in front of where I was sitting, walking, or standing. It's all orchestrated to make the scene look as authentic as possible. Unlike my scene as the doorman where I'm pretty sure I will be seen, it's hit or miss whether these scenes that the camera caught me in will actually show up in the final cut. We'll just have to wait and see when it hits the big screen.
One of the scenes was with Clooney doing the Statue of Liberty play where Krasinski was supposed to come behind him for the handoff. Unfortunately, these are actors and not athletes, so we saw a few fumblerooskis and dropped balls along the way. It was funny because all of the extras in the stands would start booing them. But it was all in good fun, though, and they eventually pulled the scenes off to make them look believable. Clooney threw a pretty good spiral, too!
Speaking of the aforementioned Mr. Krasinski, who I admittedly had never heard of before this (I just don't get the comedy on The Office), he was a hoot on the set. We were about 100 feet away from him sitting in the stands, but you could hear him cracking jokes and keeping the football actors, extras, and crew loose on the set. I'm sure his name will become QUITE familiar after this co-starring role in "Leatherheads" with Clooney and Zellweger.
One more thing that was funny about Krasinski was when they had him running the length of the field down the sideline for a big play and he'd have to do the take about 10 times. Instead of hopping on the camera cart, he simply turned around and sprinted back to his starting position. That's impressive for an actor although he did look a bit lanky running down the field. I'm sure the magic of Hollywood will make him look like a pro! :)
We were graced with a little extra excitement when one of the football-playing actors portraying the character of "Big Gus" (you'll know exactly who this is when you see the movie--he'll be hard to miss because of his weight) noticed a member of the paparazzi hiding in the woods ostensibly trying to take photos of Clooney for his newspaper or magazine. When "Big Gus" saw this guy, he suddenly started pointing and yelling to the top of his lungs, "Hey, hey, get out of here. I see you, you've been outed. Now get out of here."
Of course, everyone on the set looked in the direction "Big Gus" was pointing and saw an embarrassed photographer scrambling to get away fast enough. As the guy tripped several times while attempting to leave, all the extras start laughing at him and then cheered "Big Gus" for spotting this creep. On Wednesday, police actually snuck up behind another photographer and arrested him, according to the extras who were working that day. The officers found him covered in kudzu attempting to camoflauge himself. It obviously didn't work! Are these people THAT hard up to get a photo of Clooney? Sheez!
I won this "Leatherheads" banner during a drawing on Friday
During some of our downtime in the extras holding area on Friday, they had a drawing for some "Leatherheads" knick-knacks. My name was pulled out of the jar and I won that banner you see above. It'll be a nice reminder of my experience in the film. But I'll have many more memories in my head watching Clooney in his role as both actor and director. This man is very good at what he does and showed it quite often over these past few days. What an honor it was to be a part of his film.
This is the "thank you" letter they gave to the "Leatherheads" extras
As we were wrapping up work on the film for the weekend, all the extras got a signed letter from the Extras Casting Director for "Leatherheads" named Tona B. Dahlquist thanking us for being a part of the movie. Um, I think WE should be the ones thanking YOU for the opportunity to be a part of something like this--so, THANK YOU! I don't know how people do this for a living with all the hard work that goes into it, but it sure is exciting for those of us who live somewhat "normal" lives in comparison.
But my Hollywood experience isn't over yet! They've asked me to travel a couple of hours north to Charlotte, North Carolina for more scenes as a football fan this Thursday, April 5th. If the call time is 5:00am, then I guess I'll be getting up at 2:00am that day to get ready and then drive there. It'll be a long day I'm sure, but hopefully it will be worth my while if I get into the movie for a few more glancing seconds. I'm excited. I'm stoked. Ready or not, world, here I come. :D