Cold and Shivering for $8 an hour

In The Daily Drool on February 1, 2010 at 7:12 pm

Extra work.


I did it.

Look, let’s just talk for a moment.  I came out to LA 11 years ago to act, got some degrees that say so and everything, then I discovered writing and felt my soul sing.  It’s not that I stopped loving acting, but I did love something else more.

So I never really adopted a particularly strong “DO WHATEVER IT TAKES TO GET THOSE SAG VOUCHERS” attitude (a lot of actors do Extra work as a means to procuring hard-nearly-impossible-to-get vouchers that help them join the Screen Actors Guild)  In fact, I only did it once and hated it.

But right now I am BROKE as a (really bad, not funny at all, in-poor-taste) JOKE.  So I signed up with Central Casting and started throwing my hat in the ring.  And last week I worked on a big studio set on a sound stage and the sheer enormity of the project was interesting and cool enough to make the day pass fairly quickly.

Today, however, I stood outside in downtown LA for 10 hours, shivering and sucking in everyone’s exhaust for my kibble.

And it was NOT fun.

Because the mystery and excitment of Hollywood and its projects is no longer there to sustain me.  I don’t wander around wide-eyed and hungry for more… I just want to get paid!

10 hours in the shade and wind was just enough to clarify some of my present panic, and I can distill it to these few words: If staying in LA means doing more and more extra work, then I don’t want to stay.

I mean, it’s more interesting than working at McDonalds, and after you work 8 hours you get time and a half, and then there are a host of other possible pay bumps you can rack up… But it’s hard work- you are literally breathing, eating, scenery!  I mean, it’s not hard to wave a flag and pretend that you are at a St. Patty’s day parade, but it IS hard work to wave your flag and pretend you happy to be at a St. Patty’s day parade for 10 hours, shivering.

And yes, younger, hungrier, chattier folk than I don’t seem to mind it much.  But they’re not having the same “But, I don’t really like people all that much” epiphany that I am having as total strangers stationed near my elbow rattle off stories about previous background gigs and their favorite musicians, and their actor “Plan” to “Like, get totally famous.”  No, they’re engaged in the social structure and having fun.

But I’m just dreaming about coming home and sinking into a hot bath, because my toes are numb and my nose is dripping.

So that was my “Extra” experience.  I don’t know that I need to have any more of them any time soon…  I do know that eucalyptus bath salts are a blessing from the Gods!


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