MENTALLY AND PHYSICALLY BUSY

Edging towards 9 weeks of personal lockdown certain things have been made very clear throughout this time. In fact they are probably things that were always very evident but, this extended period of away time from each other certainly brings a lot of thought processing to the forefront.

That is not a claim to over-thinking, it is one if realistic thinking. I returned from my winter break with a very clear vision in my mind to how the rest of my life was to be. A defined clarity that I had never experienced before. Always one for ideas and ventures, this time everything was refined. A direction set out in 4K crystal clear realisation.

Obviously the current environment we are all as a planet are experiencing has some what jarred momentum but the goal remains the same nonetheless. Meetings of creative minds and the desire to leave a mark on this world are more at the forefront of my world than ever. In these eight plus weeks I have spoken to people that are scattered across the globe, the creative future is incredibly bright.

We are currently in a place where all that can be moved to one side, this is a time for basic communication. A time to make sure those important to us are ok. It’s here where I have been touched the most. People from different pockets of my life making personal efforts to check on my well being, my mindset and health. The fact that these are the people that I wouldn’t have expected to step into the light makes it all the more special, pair that to those expected to do the same have fallen by the wayside. Life is nothing short of surprises. Still, doors remain open. I just don’t feel obliged to go knocking anymore.

So be it new roots in Italy, Australia or Singapore. I know that a creative future is the pathway before me. I’m glad all those close to me appear to be ok and dealing with things well, in their own way. So if you’re dreaming of horse riding, visiting loved ones or just once more feeling that skin on skin interaction then I hope those missing elements return to you all safely and swiftly.

Work as hard as you can for the things you want, but don’t be a fool to how you use your time. It won’t happen tomorrow, it won’t happen the day after but each step taken towards whatever you want will never be a day wasted.

SD

HOW TO BE A FILM EXTRA

Most major film productions need extras or ‘background artists’, non-speaking characters to play, for example, the onlookers at an orgy (Eyes Wide Shut), customers in a street market (Notting Hill) or the audience at the Coliseum (Gladiator). 

And you don’t have to look like a supermodel of have the thespian capabilities of John Gielgud. Movies need people of all ages and shapes and sizes. Acting experience, even in school plays or amateur dramatics, helps but is not essential. 

Would-be extras need a copy of Contacts, an annual directory which lists extras casting agencies (published by Spotlight and available from some branches of Waterstones or by mail order for £9.99 plus postage and packing). Phone 0207 437 7631 for details. 

There are dozens of agencies dotted around the country. Some will not charge for putting you on their books but take 15% commission from your earnings. Others will deduct just the normal 11% commission but charge a registration fee, which may be around £100. {3}

They will generally want you to send in a CV, outlining any experience and any special talents or features you may have – you’re six feet six inches tall and you can juggle, for example – a good quality photograph, and a stamped addressed envelope.

‘A good, reputable agency will not sign anyone up without conducting a face-to-face interview,’ says Tony Gerrard, general manager of Ray Knight Casting which has provided extras for Notting Hill and the last three Bond films, among many others, and is currently casting for Dinotopia, a fantasy mini-series being shot at Pinewood Studios.

‘Remember that anyone can set up an agency and claim to be casting for all sorts so beware of sending money off to an organisation you know nothing about,’ adds Gerrard.

‘The hardest thing is to identify a professional and competent agency,’ agrees Spencer MacDonald, national organiser for the Broadcasting Entertainment Cinematograph and Theatre Union (BECTU).

‘Ask how long an agency has been established, how much work they’ve had over the last few months and carefully check their terms and conditions.’

‘When you do get on the books of a good company, you can expect an average of one job a fortnight. Most successful extras treat it as an unusual and interesting hobby,’ adds MacDonald. 

An extra is typically paid £64.50 for a nine-hour day, inclusive of lunch. Thereafter they get £12.09 an hour. There are extra payments for utilising special skills and often travel expenses are available.

Paul Kirby, 54, who is on the books at Ray Knight Casting, first worked as an extra in 1966 on The Dirty Dozen. He has been in hundreds of productions since, most recently working on Dinotopia.

‘Most of the stars are very courteous and will always give you a ‘good morning’ but you must remember that that’s not an invitation to start a conversation,’ he says.

‘I think of the job as being like going to a party without the booze: you know a lot of the people there and most of your time is spent standing around chatting to them.’ 

DO Treat it seriously Be prepared to be available at short notice Turn up on time Switch off your mobile Be silent on set Look after your costume 

DON’T Fail to show up Breeze up to Johnny Depp, fling your arms around him and say ‘Fancy a kiss, gorgeous?’ Take a camera Take criticism/out-and-out abuse personally Make ‘helpful’ suggestions to the director

STAR WARS FACTS

1. Yoda was almost played by a monkey.

According to the book The Making of Star Wars by J.W. Rinzler, George Lucas originally planned for Yoda to be played by an adorable monkey wearing a mask and carrying a cane.

2. “Ewok” was never spoken in the original trilogy.

The word “Ewok” is never uttered by a character in the original trilogy. Although, the species is identified in the script and closing credits.

3. Boba Fett’s face is actually visible in the original movies.

You may think you never see Boba Fett’s face in the original trilogy, but the actor who played Fett, Jeremy Bulloch, did stand in for an Imperial officer at the last minute.

4. “I have a bad feeling about this” became a running gag for the franchise.

The phrase “I have a bad feeling about this” or “I have a very bad feeling about this” is said in every Star Warsmovie.

5. Return of the Jedi almost had a very different ending.

In a story development session for Return of the Jedi, George Lucas toyed with the idea that after Luke removes dying Vader’s helmet, he puts it on, proclaims “Now I am Vader” and turns to the dark side.





6. ‘N Sync nearly had a cameo in Attack of the Clones.

Boy band ‘N Sync made a cameo in Attack of the Clonesat the request of George Lucas’ daughter. They were edited out of the final cut. Bye, bye, bye, Justin Timberlake.

7. Yoda has no determined species.

Yoda’s species has never been named. A mystery, it is.

8. Yoda is not a Muppet.

Legendary Muppeteer Frank Oz voiced Yoda and Jim Henson oversaw his creation, but he was built by a member of Lucasfilm. So don’t expect to see him at Kermit’s holiday party.

9. Depending on what movie you’re watching, Yoda has a different number of toes.

In The Phantom Menace, Yoda has three toes. But in The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi and Revenge of the Sith, he has four.


10. There are no female fighter pilots in the original trilogy.

Even though female fighter pilots were in the original screenplay, they were removed from final cut.

11. Star Wars and 2001: A Space Odyssey share almost the exact same production crew.

George Lucas admired Stanley Kubrik, and when he set out to make Star Wars, he hired so many people who worked on 2001: A Space Odyssey that the group was referred to as “The Class of 2001.”

12. The Star Wars prequels used computer animation to create legions of Clone Troopers

No physical suit of armor was ever built for the Clone Troopers in the prequels. Every single Clone Trooper was computer animated.

13. Qui-Gon Jinn used a Gillette razor for his communicator.

In Episode 1, the personal communicator used by Qui-Gon Jinn is actually made from a resin cast of a Gillette Ladies Sensor Excell Razor. Now that’s smooth.

14. E.T. was in The Phantom Menace — sort of.

The alien race of E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial makes an appearance in Episode I: The Phantom Menace — officially connecting the worlds of Lucas and Spielberg sci-fi. A senator and his delegation from planet Brodo Asogi are present in the Grand Convocation Chamber when Queen Amidala calls for a vote of no confidence.

15. Ewoks speak Tibetan.

The Ewok language is a combination of Tibetan and Nepalese.




16. David Lynch passed on directing Jedi.

Acclaimed film director David Lynch passed when George Lucas asked him to direct Return of the Jedi.

17. Darth Vader is banned from all official Star Wars events.

David Prowse, the actor who portrayed Darth Vader (in form, not voice), is banned from attending official Star Wars conventions because George Lucas finds him annoying.

18. The sound of a TIE fighter engine is actually an elephant.

The sound of a TIE Fighter engine was created by combining an elephant bellow and a car driving on wet pavement.

19. Chewbacca’s voice is an eclectic mix of other animals.

Chewbacca’s voice is a mix of bears, walruses, lions, badgers and other dying animals.


20. The lightsaber noise comes from the familiar hum of an old television.

The noise a lightsaber makes is created by combining the hum of an old television’s picture tube and the buzz of a film projector’s motor.

21. You can use Star Warscollectible coins as real money.

The tiny South Pacific island of Niue accepts limited edition Star Wars collectible coins as legal tender.

22. Liam Neeson was too tall for Star Wars.

The sets for The Phantom Menace were only as tall as the actors, but they didn’t account for 6’4″ Liam Neeson. They had to rebuild all the door frames for Qui-Gon Jinn, which racked up an additional $150,000 in production costs.

23. There are enough fan tribute videos to recreate A New Hopeand Empire Strikes Back.

There are shot-for-shot re-creations of A New Hope and Empire Strikes Back made entirely of campy fan tribute videos.

24. Jabba the Hut was originally meant to be furry.

Originally, Jabba the Hut was not conceived as a grimy slug, but as a fuzzy creature.


25. George Lucas left the Directors Guild because of A New Hope.

George Lucas paid a fine and resigned from the Directors Guild rather than start Episode IV with a traditional credit sequence.

26. The iconic opening credits were created in an unorthodox way.

Filmmakers used a physical crawl to shoot the opening credits in the original films.

27. Harrison Ford almost wasn’t Han Solo.

Burt Reynolds was among the top contenders to play Han Solo, along with Al Pacino, Jack Nicholson and Christopher Walken.

28. Empire Strikes Back uses the most stop-motion animation.

Of all the films in the franchise, Empire utilizes the most stop-motion animation.

29. Cliff Clavin makes a cameo in Empire.

Cheers and Toy Story actor John Ratzenberger has a brief appearance inEmpire Strikes Back. He’s the one who tells Han not to go out into the cold to look for Luke. Then he sits down for a beer with Norm.

30. Han Solo almost died at the end of Jedi.

Gary Kurtz, the original producer of Return of the Jedi, said that in the early story outline, Han Solo dies and the Rebel forces are left in tatters, with Luke disappearing into the wilderness. But George Lucas thought killing off main characters would hurt toy sales, so he changed the ending to a big Ewok party.