Last Sunday, I did background work for what I hope will be a future CBC Pilot. I won't name the show unless it gets picked up (because names could change, ect.), but I will say that it was written by Bob Martin & directed by Don McKellar, the killer team that brought you The Drowsy Chaperone. The scenes we were shooting that day also included Jen Irwin & Martha Burns. For those of you keeping track at home, I had a veritable Slings and Arrows reunion on my hands and I was geeking out hard-core. Now, if you are in any way involved with the theatre and you do not know what Slings and Arrows is, please stop reading this right now and go flog yourself for a few dozen lashes before renting/buying/stealing a copy of the 3 Season boxed set. Don't come back until you've watched all 18 episodes. Go ahead. I'll wait.
For the rest of you, I'm sure you can understand my thrill when I said hello to Mrs. Paul Gross and, not only did she speak to me, but she also introduced me to Bob Martin. It was very very cool.
And then, it got even cooler:
It was a small day for extras. There were only 5 of us in a little office scene. Early on, I got asked to sit in the adjoining office next to Martha Burns'. My back is to the camera but you can probably assume I'm some coworker or lowly underling or something like that. That's it. That's all I did all day... until the very last hour of shooting. The other background performers were getting wrapped, but I was asked to change my clothes (different day in the chronology of the show) and stick around. On the reverse angle of the shot I would be standing with Martha Burns at her desk, taking notes when Bob Martin's character rushes in, says a few things and runs out. Mrs. Burns joked that I was probably her receptionist.
So, let me get this straight, I'm prominently featured in a scene for a potential CBC Pilot?
Here's the deal - I have no issue with doing background work. It's good money and, thanks to my union, some of it gets put aside in an RRSP account. However, when I do it, I try to pretty much stay, for lack of a better word, in the background. There's always this worry that people will only see you as movable furniture and nothing else. But, there's also always a possibility that a background performer might be upgraded on set. I've seen it happen first hand. I don't count on it when I get to work on set, but the hope is always there.
What happened to me on set did not count as an upgrade... at least, I don't think it did. That said, after the wrap announcement, Mr. Martin shook my hand and thanked me for my work. And then Don McKellar approached me to do the same adding a little: "if this show gets picked up you may have gotten yourself a little part there."
Now, don't go cheering and jumping up and down for me just yet. It was awesome to hear him say that and totally made my night, but this is a fickle business where a million and one things that I have absolutely no control over could come in and jinx it all.
Then again, you just never know.