Friday, July 30, 2010

Making a Movie


I have a Things to do Before I Die List. Have had it for years, long before that Bucket List movie. (Now realize that's an upcoming blog post.) So whenever there is a unique, cool opportunity I try my best to do it.

Such was the case last night. I had the chance to be in a Brad Pitt movie. He's playing Billie Beane, the Oakland A's general manager, in Moneyball. The story is of his unique method of forming a budget team using computer analysis. Also in the film are Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Jonah Hill, and Robin Wright (Penn).

Years ago I had gotten on a list for movie extras. Most of the time the announcements are for Los Angeles. But this being about the A's, it was being filmed at Oakland Colisseum. They are shooting nightly for over a week. Each night required signups for people to sit in the bleachers and play the crowd. There are two shifts. the first was supposed to be from 4:30 to 11:30. The second shift was 10:30 to 5 am.

Our day got a late email saying they didn't need us until 6. I arrived at the parking lot at 5:30 and found a line the equivalent of three blocks long - huge! I knew this was gonna be bad. The email said only 300 people per night and you had to pre-register. Forget that. This line was a couple of thousand. I headed for the porta potties  first in preparation of a long wait. I then decided to see if I could get up in line by being adopted by a nice group or family. I approached the front and saw a nice woman and her son and said I had come by myself from Sacramento and was hoping to be adopted. Turns out Karene and Max Richins were from East Sac. They hadn't gotten the email, so they had been there since about 4.


I stood in line with them and we waited and waited. At 6:15 they finally started processing the releases and giving us tickets. Then we stood in another line within the fence. At one point we saw shuttle buses go by with cast. I'm pretty sure I saw Brad in one. As it drove by it honked and he waved out the window. We stood in this line until about 8:30 before we were finally security screened (no cameras) and let into the stadium where we could finally visit the bathroom, get some water, and sit down.

The emails had said given preliminary instructions. It said we would be fed on set. Luckily I had hit Jack in the Box right before the Colisseum just in case. Thank goodness. There was only water, coffee, chex mix, and later on there were hot dogs. There were also going be raffle prizes at the end of the night, a paid walk-on role and a flat screen TV. We were told that throughout the night we would be shuffled around the stadium depending on where they needed background. We were not to take pictures and not to shout at Brad because he was working and not there to give autographs.

Our first shuffle took our group to behind the dugout. We got THE first row behind the dugout and were so excited. Right in front of us in easy conversation distance was Phillip Seymour Hoffman. But they were shooting from an angle and told us that our side of the area was out of shot and we needed to move to a different section up and over. The three of us dragged our feet and didn't go very far from our original seats.

I've always been a good star sighted like when we had seen the stars at Russell Crowe's star. Others had spotted Billy Beane. Soon I noticed a guy wearing a grey hoodie and realized it was Brad. Later someone else realized that it was Angelina standing nearby. It was apparent that Brad wasn't filming, at least not any time soon. He was just wearing a track suit.

We were told that we were representing game 20 of the 20 game 2002 winning streak. This was the 9th inning and the score against Kansas City was 11-11. They did a shot of the players returning from the field and we needed to sound both encouraging and yet frustrated at the score. Then Scott Hatteberg emerges from the dugout and we all cheer encouragement. They did about six takes. Finally we had to cheer as if he was at the plate, a ball, a strike, a hit, HOME RUN! By this time I was getting hoarse.

It was now 11 and time for their lunch break. The extras had shift change and our shift was invited and encouraged to stay. But I had to still drive back to Sac and I had seen what I had come for anyway. I waited for the raffle and then left.

Perhaps Brad had to act later in the night. Who knows. A previous night they had shot Jonah Hill siting in the crowd watching a game. That would have been cool.

So it was another check of my List and someting to share with you.


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