It's about time, but I finally found myself a paying gig in the Highlands - albeit a temporary one. I spent much of last week working as an extra on the set of Ken Loach's latest film - The Angels Share.
It was a whole lotta fun - except for the long stretch of mind-numbing tedium. Extra work really is filled with periods of complete boring inactivity, wrapped up with other periods of endless, soul destroying repetition. But I loved it. It reminded me of so many other times in my life when I've done really cool things that were a little out of the ordinary. Like films made with FoxHead and Ray the Golliwog. The shooting of Blokesworld with T and Felmo. At least with the Sexy Football Show I was too busy to be bored, but I remembered the thrill of being on set and of being the centre of the universe for a few short minutes.
I was a little disappointed though. I was given the impression during casting that I may be required for more than just standing around. There was a chance I was going to get an actual role. Not a wholly credited talking role, but something substantial, like a journalist, or a bidder at an auction. Sadly that was not to be. They seemed to get a bunch of ring-ins to perform those roles (at extra cost I may add), but I can't complain really. Everyone involved with the project was just lovely.
Ken Loach is an old fashioned director who shoots his scenes sequentially. He also employs tricks like not telling the lead actors how the story is going to turn out in the end - I guess to ensure an honesty in each performance. He is also a lovely old guy. I hope he doesn't mind me calling him old, but it was his birthday on the Friday. I, in typical brown-nose fashion (that I learned from the good Doctor), even gave him a birthday card I had made the night before. A simple gesture, but one that seemed to genuinely delight him.
The rest of the crew were honest, down-to-earth good blokes (and girls), and displayed enormous patience with many of the extras who were uber n00bs, I assure you.
The main cast were insulated from us a little, which is understandable, but there seemed to be no big movie star egos on set at all.
The highlight of the week, though, was meeting so many quality folks who were there in exactly the same circumstances as myself. Not many locals it seemed - most there had seemed to have settled in the Highlands from afar, and most, like me, were struggling to find gainful employment up here that could utilize our idiosyncratic talents. Apart from one or two (who I won't dwell on) that were simply unable to cope with the demanding nature of extra work, everyone was happy, friendly, smart, funny, generous and great fun to be around.
It was a terrific week and I'm sure many friendships were forged. I'm sure most of us will meet again on the set of the next feature film to visit the Highlands. I hear Batman is being shot at Inverness Airport next month. Giggity!
|My first glimpse of the great man|
|Mr Loach on set|
|Oh, the glamour|
|An actual camera|
|John, old boy - you are a legend.|
|'You're nicked!' - thankfully pretend police|
|Works like magic.|
|l: Larisa from Siberia (true) r: Grace (who got us all there and back safe)|