Extra, Extra!

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Movie clapper board

O Faithful and Patient Readers, I’m off on a tangent.  Several days ago I posted that I’d be scarce this week, as I had volunteered to be an extra in a movie being shot in our Montana valley.  It’s not a blockbuster with a world-famous director and a string of Oscar-winning actors, but neither is it a local mess of two stoned guys cruising around with a video camera.

News about this movie which stars Rami Malek is just starting to hit the webz.  The working title, which I don’t quite get, is Buster’s Mal Heart.  I know mal is French for bad, but…???  Anyway, for a very brief synopsis, read THIS.  Or THIS.  Doesn’t it sound cool?  Confusing and mind-bendy, but cool.  I like mind-bendy.

If you love movies, I highly recommend the experience of being an extra if you can get it.  Seeing how a movie set works is fascinating.  It can also be hours of boredom and sitting around waiting, followed by seconds if not entire minutes of fascination.  You might see famous actors.  You might not.  You might meet them.  Or not.

The movie is set in the 1990s, which we were informed of ahead of time and told to dress appropriately.  How sad is it that all I had to do was shop my closet?  I even had a coat with those humongous shoulder pads.  You remember those from the late ’80s/early ’90s, don’t you?  We all looked like linebackers for the Pittsburgh Steelers.  Plus I had the most perfect ’90s long skirt that was both floral and paisley printed.

I saw several young ladies who were young enough that “the 1990s” didn’t mean anything to them so they obviously wore their best and most modern outfits.  It was amusing to see them dragged off to Wardrobe, re-emerging in the flowery frumpwear you may recall with varying degrees of fondness or loathing.  As another extra said to me of her own just-got-it-at-Goodwill dress, “I don’t know if this fabric was meant for a dress or a couch!”

But wait, it gets worse!  I mean funnier.  There was an energetic hair and makeup specialist running around fixing women’s hair in more appropriate ’90s styles.  She was wearing a killer utility belt holstered with the tools of the trade — brushes, hair spray, pins.  She barely glanced at me in passing and moved on to the next woman.  I suspected my hair had no modern style but now am pathetically positive.

The final funny was that…. well, let me just warn you that if you ever need to pull out a bunch of really old clothes either for a movie or for real life, make sure they, um, work.  Specifically, pantyhose.  You remember pantyhose, right?  When I was an office-working woman back in the ’80s and ’90s I had a whole drawer full of pantyhose.  We had to!  We often wore dresses and skirts to work and if we did, the Fashion Police dictated that pantyhose was a must.  Nowadays no one seems to wear it, even women whose legs ** cough cough ** would look waaaay better with it.

So I needed some black hose.  Eureka, found some in the back of my sock drawer.  Put it on, along with my fab ’90s skirt, a black turtleneck, a slip (another fashion fossil), a few other things, and off Mr. Silver Nail and I went to the shoot.

Guess what?  Pantyhose, unlike wine, does not age well.  Despite looking like new, the elastic had evaporated.  Sublimated.  Vanished.  I discovered this after walking around for more than a few steps.  Lower and lower the waistband crept.  When no one was looking and the cameras were off (I hope), I kept tugging at it.  Fortunately when you’re an extra there are more down times than action, so I kept penguin-walking off to the bathroom to hike it up.  Walking through a cemetery for a scene was agony — I could actually feel that the waistband was now completely south of my butt.

Amazingly, the Pantyhose of Purgatory and I made it through the entire long day somehow.  When I got home, though, as I stepped out of my car the hose gave a tiny nylon sigh and died completely in a wrinkled black puddle around my ankles.  RIP, hose, RIP.

Fashion faux pas aside, the days were great fun and I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.  Every scene I was in may hit the cutting room floor, but that would be all right, because I had the experience, and as the song goes, you can’t take that away from me.

Have a great weekend, everybody!


8 responses »

  1. That’s a neat experience to read about! It never occurred to me that pantyhose have a limited lifespan, but I guess that makes sense. The 90s was all my high school/college years…I certainly remember the high school crowd-dictated clothing. I don’t really remember about college years clothing. I just think back to the Beverly Hills 90210 show to fill in the rest. Since that was my era, I probably make makeup and fashion choices based on that time period, though I certainly employ today’s techniques like makeup highlighting/contouring, and of course wear stuff I’ve bought recently. I am not sure if I’d be able to successfully rewind, or be another that is passed over by the makeup/stylist crew as still back there…lol

  2. mistletoeandhitch

    Pantyhose. I used to by several pair a month because like any woman who worked in corporate America in the 90’s, sometimes I even wore them under pants. I drew some strange fashion line at Knee-hi’s. Then there was the big question. Did you buy your pantyhose at the drugstore or the department store? I remember owning my “nicer” pantyhose as compared to my everyday hose. And, as for today I guess I have to admit that I still prefer pantyhose to bare legs for any more dressy occasion. To me, heels mean hose. Sandles, they mean bare legs. Or, bear legs, if I need to shave. For me it’s always a dilemma. Hair legs or legs so glowingly pale you can see the veins below. At least the stubble adds some color. Thank God that trousers can be worn for 90% of life’s dressier scenes.

    • I so hear you. Let’s see, I bought my nicer pantyhose at the department store at the mall. Loved getting some subtle different colors, even — dark green, navy, dark maroon. Got the cheap stuff at the grocery store. Yes, grocery store — at the big L’Eggs display, remember that? :-O Pantyhose in plastic eggs.

  3. Gotta love the totally clueless yongins.

  4. Hi,I just found your blog and I love it! 🙂 Can you share anything more about the movie itself or did you get to meet the cast?


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