Runway, Bloody Runway

A few more stories from the background…

Some days on set can be impossibly glamorous, even for us lowly extras. For instance, I’ve had a fake dinner at the Plaza…

[Not pictured: the half-eaten steak (to make it look like dinner has been going on for a while) sprayed with all kinds of toxic preservative crap so it would last through a 12 hr shoot.]

…worn haute couture straight from the runway…

[J’adore Dior! Too bad this picture is so blurry, cause that was an awesome gown. I am at least 10 inches too short to be wearing it properly and spent the whole day tripping over my own feet as a result, but it was still fun.]

…had my hair done up all fancy by several stylists to the stars…

…met tons of celebrities and filmed in some cool locations. Like the Martini commercial that took us out on a boat for a Hudson River cruise…

Not to mention the countless free breakfast burritos I’ve gotten to eat!

But I don’t want to talk about any of that. I’d rather tell you about the day I got to play a bloody corpse. Here’s the story:

Back in December I took a job working on an independent short film which shall remain nameless. We were filming out in the scary part of Brooklyn in some abandoned warehouse with a questionable heating system. Funnily enough, I had been to this exact warehouse the previous summer when filming an episode of HBO’s Girls, but since it was July at the time, it was the lack of air conditioning we were bemoaning that day. Also, since Girls is a union (read: legit) production, they bused us out to the location so we wouldn’t have to walk through the scary Bushwick warehouse district.

Unfortunate location and lack of transport aside, this was not a great day for me. First of all, I was really…um…tired (yeah, that’s it) after an evening of pre-holiday festivities and got almost no sleep the night before. Then I had to wake up super early and take three trains plus a whole lot of walking in the bitter cold to get to the warehouse. When I finally got there, after getting lost a few times, I discovered that we wouldn’t be getting any of the perks I normally associate with BG (background) work, like food or heat.  This was also the day that I forgot to bring my phone. So that sucked.

The worst/best/worst again part of this shoot was that it called for ‘model types.’ I almost never submit to ‘model type’ calls because I’m only 5’5 and while I’m generally considered to be cute, pretty even, I have a rather weak chin. The other thing is (and believe me, I know how ridiculous this is going to sound) I am sometimes one of the meatier girls on set. I know, but the difference between real life thin and TV thin is astounding…and kind of gross.

Anyway, because the rate of pay was better than the standard non-union rate and it paid in cash at the end of the day, I applied for and got the job. That meant I got to spend the day amongst a group of vapid 20-something ‘model types’ (not actual models mind you – I’ve known some delightful and intelligent models, but none of them were there that day – these were merely ‘model types’) all while nursing a hangover. Awesome.

Like most movie sets, it was horribly disorganized and I spent the first several hours resting my head on a table, alternately trying to sleep and grumbling to anyone who would listen about why I bothered to get there on time when I could be sleeping someplace infinitely more comfortable, like my bed. And where the hell was my cell phone!?!

After several hours of that, a production assistant came into the holding area looking for a girl who was willing to let a makeup artist apply some special effects makeup to her face. I had seen a few people wandering around with a scratch here, a lesion there, or a burn mark that looked like it could have come from an unfortunate run-in with a curling iron, so it looked like no big deal. Plus, I’d heard through the grapevine that there was heat in the makeup room, so with my face still plastered to the table, I raised my hand.

Turns out I was the only volunteer. I guess all the other girls wanted to look pretty for the camera or something. Whatevs. I was bored out of my mind without my cell phone and was just happy to have something to do. That, and I’ve always been fascinated by special fx makeup. Case in point:

I did a shoot for NYC 22 that called for a bunch of girls to take mug shots. Our instructions were to come to set looking ‘rough and tumble, like you spent the night in the drunk tank – think drunk and disorderly.’ Apparently, I was the only one who took this to mean bruise makeup. My instincts paid off though, because just the other day a friend of mine told me that she saw my mug shot on TV! Win!

Now, I don’t want to get in trouble for giving away too much about the film because I think it was submitted to a few film festivals this summer, so rather than use the real title I’m going to call it ‘Zoolander 2: With a Vengeance.’ Basically, it’s about a supermodel/suicide bomber who goes berserk, blows herself up on the runway and kills a bunch of people at a fashion show. I was now going to be playing one of those unfortunate fashion show attendees.

When I got to the makeup room, which was blissfully toasty compared to the rest of the warehouse, the makeup artist – Anthony Pepe – asked me how much he could do, what I would be comfortable with, if I had any latex allergies, that sort of thing. I told him to go to town. So he did.

Wait for it…

Wait for it…


Cool, huh?

My day got much better after that. First of all, the production team ordered a bunch of pizzas so that was awesome, my hangover finally wore off, and I got to spend the rest of the day freaking people out, which is always fun. Half the BG and crew wanted a picture with me. I can’t imagine how many unknown facebook pages have been graced by my bloody visage. I felt like a total celeb!

On an interesting side note, because I didn’t have my phone with me that day, I wasn’t able to take any photos myself and didn’t think to exchange contact info with anyone who’d taken my picture. Then, months later, I ran into a guy on another set who looked vaguely familiar. He said, ‘Hey! Don’t I know you from Zoolander 2?’ and he took out his phone to show my the pic we’d taken together. He immediately texted it to me, which was really nice. Then, I managed to find the makeup artist on facebook and he sent me a much better photo (see above.)

I do wish I had a still photo of the actual shot though because aside from the fabulous makeup, I imagine it looked pretty ridiculous. See, as is typical in BG work, I was wearing my own clothes. This was slightly problematic because in a real explosion your clothes would most likely be destroyed, or at least singed a little, but since I wouldn’t let them ruin my dress (I wasn’t getting paid that much), my head had to get the brunt of the explosion. They buried the rest of my body in some twisted up folding chairs and some artfully placed trash. Things like pizza boxes, empty bags of Cheetos and various other things you’d definitely find at a runway show. You know, cause models can’t get enough of those artificially flavored, unnaturally orange, crunchy, cheese-like crack nuggets…or so I’m told.

The coolest part was, unlike all those wussy starlet wannabes, I got to be a featured extra. I doubt I’ll ever see the film (I doubt anyone will ever see it), but because it was my face on the floor of that drafty old warehouse, I can now put ‘Bloody Corpse #3’ on my resume. I’m on my way!

3 thoughts on “Runway, Bloody Runway

  1. This reminds me of Amy Sedaris – she was chosen as one of NYC’s most eligible bachelorettes by some magazine, and she had them make her up with a black eye and a bunch of bruises. She kept the makeup on when she left, and went shopping. People were looking at her with pity, and she looked at one of them and said “but I love him so much.”

  2. Pingback: I do weird things for money. | Frivolity On The Edge

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