Johnny Extra here on a 2 day Science Fiction ‘End of the World’ shoot.
I am an Electro-Mechanical Engineer (am too!). The 2nd AD said our motivation is “Problems on the Motherboard Eleven!” Yes Ma’m! I am supposed to silently mouth “Are you on Switch Nineteen?” to my Lovely Young Female Scientist Co-Worker. Then the World Ends and most everybody dies. The Lead British Scientist Who May or May Not Be The Bad Guy shakes it off and orders survivors to “Tally the dead!” We keep keeling over for 17 takes. Carpet Face Burn Central.
My Gal Pal for the day had a pad mattress for most but not all her falls and was a real trouper. Take after take our papers and files and pencils and people fly everywhere. Of the 45 Extras only one complains and she quickly (and correctly) is labeled “Pain in Neck”. I pegged her earlier when she was whining that the Breakfast Omelet Bar only had 9 choices of cheeses! Boo f’ing Hoo! Sorry M’ Lady. Dost thou wantest for not? By lunch time the crew was buzzing and the mocking behind her back commenced, Luckily the majority of the Extras were all pros and made it a fun day while Ms. Pain became Prima Diva de Day.
Back to the Blood…did I mention the Puddles of Blood by the Young Hot Black Female Scientist Guest Star? Three different people played her. 1st the Actress hired for the meaty role. 2nd the Stand-In for lighting and blocking. 3rd the Stunt Double who takes the hit to the head on the Main Deck Control Room Console and BLEEDS EVERYWHERE before she dies. Next to me. Right at my feet. All TV Monitors in the World have Ceased to Broadcast…again? The Electro De-Fragmatizer** has malfunctioned (I repeat…again!?!) I’m out like a light with my head on my Console (good news…I lived!). And I get Special Make Up with a Bloody Rip on my forehead surrounded by a Major Purple Bruise!! Yippee! I was the Talk of the Town at meal break (at least at the Extra’s Table). An 18 year old said “You hurt your head dude.” A Pro replied “That’s Make-Up Bro.” But after 12 hours they were handing out Ibuprofen and ice bags.
News Flash: Puddles of Blood are really Rubbery Plastic Things that are Pre-Made by the Special Effects Team and they peel right up without leaving marks on studio carpet (like a Black Cherry Fruit Roll). EFX folks Windex the puddles before takes so the Blood looks shiny & pretty! The dead Guest Star has amazing Make Up where the rest of her face used to be. Graphic open wounds. She, her Stand In & her Stunt Double are all identical in body and weight, same light grey suit jackets with matching well tailored tight pencil skirts and insanely high sexy heels. Same gorgeous long wavy chestnut colored wigs for all three Ladies. Two other Stunt Doubles fall down flights of stairs repeatedly without complaint. They get a well earned standing ovation by cast and crew. It is amazing to see and I love getting to work with them (the Stunt Coordinator is terrific, kind and she helped us all).
A Female Director too! Yay! The 2nd AD and I have worked together before and she makes the day fly. Her Coordinator (let’s call him “Todd”) was funny and cool but had to warn us all “under no circumstances bring any food or drink onto the Sound Stage”. Four minutes later I run into Todd on set and he’s carrying a steaming hot cheese and mushroom omelet with a toasted bagel & schmear in his mouth. I say “Don’t let Todd catch you” and continue walking past Futuristic Main Deck Blinking Green and Red Lights embedded in the Huge Scientific Metal Equipment (“It’s Alive!”).
About this massive Sound Stage… I worked here before in one of their two standing Courtroom Sets. There’s also a Jail Cell Block and we are so Wi-Fi Sci-Fi on their 2-Story International Corporate Headquarters Anywhere in The Future set which goes on for corridors and offices and hallway after fake long hallway. Get this…they shot “Murphy Brown” here!
Back in my 8th Grade 1969 Junior High School days (yes kids pre-“Middle School”) I had a Speech Class with the wonderful and delightful Julie Nimoy. One day her Dad came in. You know him as Leonard. He was doing a little show at the time called “Star Trek.” Ring a bell? Anywhoo…Julie once brought Dr. Spock’s Pointed Ears into class (they were made out of wax and melted after a couple of days shooting under hot lights so needed constant replacement). Mr. Famous Cool Father of My Friend is right this second in the front of my Speech Class asking if anyone would please join him in an Improv Comedy Sketch. I raise my hand so fast my arm flies out of the socket! I wish I could regale you with what we did but all I remember was it being fabulous fun and Mr. Nimoy kindly said to my class afterwards that “Someday this boy is going to be a Star!” Hello Leonard? I’m on Line One and have been holding for 40 years!
**This bit I stole from my terrific Dad’s great OUR MAN FLINT script (check my Pop out …Ben Starr on IMDb).