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Diary of an artist, Friday, May 10, 2019
Woke up 4:40 am
Spent another full day on the movie set on Wednesday. The story of this particular movie (series) happens in the 1930s so before we could set our feet on the movie set we had to transform ourselves into people of this era. I wore a brown suit, whiteish shirt with a brown patterned tie, and brown shoes. My hair were styled. The day started at 6:30 (for some even earlier) and I was late 45 minutes (a deliberate decision, although I had planned to be only 30 minutes late) as I had experiences of spending well over an hour in a waiting room, waiting for all people to be transformed before shooting historical movies, and it seemed like a waste of time to me. Was the last to dress and last but one to be styled that day.
We were taken to one of the finest and oldest hotels in Warsaw called Polonia Palace and there we spent the next eleven hours, i.e. until 7:30 pm. After that we were taken back (with the same coach) to the same place where we could transform ourselves back to the people of our era and where we got paid $35 for this. Thus the day ended for us at 8:45–9:00 pm.
One might think that it was an excruciating day (so many hours on the set plus the time before and after — for most it was a 15-hour work day) and that it’s such a hard work to be an extra in a movie. One would also change his or her mind if that person knew exactly what we all did on that day and how long we actually played.
I and all people who belonged to the same group I did, which was called ‘New York’ (the other group was called ‘Paris’), appeared briefly on the set at what could have been 9:30 or 10 am. The task we were assigned was neither complicated, nor exhausting. We formed several couples (conventional opposite sex couples) and we had to walk in and out or a big room pretending we were guests of a luxurious restaurant. After several steps we had to stop (the camera saw each couple for only a second or so) and wait until the end of the take. Then, as usual, we had to return to our initial positions and we were asked to repeat the same. We did that four, maybe five times, and we could go back to our room (where all movie extras spent most of the time). The whole thing lasted 10, maybe 15 minutes. It wasn’t until 6 or 6:30 pm that we were needed again, and the thing for which we were needed the second time was similar. Again we assumed the roles of guests of the same luxurious restaurant, but this time some of us were asked to sit at the tables and pretend they were eating and talking and some were asked to walk in and out (like in the previous scene). This too lasted no more than 15 minutes, after which we were told that it was the end of our engagement that day. The people who belonged to the second group (the Paris group) might have been used more, but just a little bit more. That’s my guess, as I didn’t see them play — I only concluded it based on how many times and for how long at the time they disappeared.
What I did the rest of the time? I read books 1/ Facing Unpleasant Facts: Narrative Essays by George Orwell (by the way, Orwell is my favorite writer — I enjoy his essays a lot and I could read them nonstop), 2/ Søren Kierkegaard: A Biography by Joakim Garff and 3/ My Salinger Year by Joanna Rakoff (I read ca. 20–30 minutes of each), I watched three documentaries: 1/ Saving Capitalism (I believe I saw it before once), 2/ AlphaGo, and 3/ The Miscast Champion (part of the series called ‘Losers’), I ate lunch (delicious cabbage soup of which I had two servings, plus cheese — one variety, meat — two varieties, butter, and bread — many different varieties), I shaved (in men’s room; I often use this abundant waiting time on movie sets to shave so that I don’t have to waste time on it at home — why shouldn’t I do it if I have so much free time on each set?), I answered one question on Quora, I checked e-mail, I checked the newest posts on facebook (that’s how most movie extras find out where else they could go and play), and rested. That’s basically what I did on Wednesday.
Couldn’t write as I didn’t take my laptop with me. Don’t know if that was a mistake — what if I had taken it and someone spilled coffee on it or something? If I were a complete lunatic indulging in a wishful thinking all the time and assumed nothing bad could have happened on that particular day to my laptop on the set (as most of us certainly would) then of course I would view it as a mistake. If, on the other hand, I (unlike the vast majority of us) assumed that something bad could have happened to my laptop, because shit happens all the time and it happens at random and it’s only a matter of whom it happens to on a given day, and we never know when it will happen to us, then I would be much more hesitant to call it a mistake.
Reading (since my last diary entry):
Facing Unpleasant Facts: Narrative Essays by George Orwell (60 min, on scribd app).
Søren Kierkegaard: A Biography by Joakim Garff (40 min, on scribd app).
My Salinger Year by Joanna Rakoff (60 min, on scribd app).
Audiobooks (since my last diary entry):
What Comes Next and How to Like It: A Memoir by Abigail Thomas (30 min. on scribd app) Second listening.
YouTube videos and movies (since my last diary entry):
Saving Capitalism (on Netflix) Finished it.
AlphaGo (on Netflix) Finished it.
Losers The Miscast Champion (on Netflix) Finished it.
Gringo: The Dangerous Life of John McAfee (on Netflix) Finished it.
Zion (on Netflix) Finished it.
Killing Eve Desperate Times (on HBO Go) Finished it.
Killing Eve Smell Ya Later (on HBO Go) Finished it.
The Reports on Sarah and Saleem (on HBO Go) Finished it.
Music for this writing session: Frédéric Chopin (on spotify)