My Boardwalk Experience
As many of my close friends now know, I just got cast as an extra on the hit HBO show, “Boardwalk Empire.” It was funny how I landed the gig. My girlfriend, Lisa, is a “Boardwalk” fanatic and informed me that she applied to be an extra on the show. Me being an aspiring actor myself, I figured, “What the heck? I may as well apply as well.”
I asked Lisa how to apply, which necessitated sending my basic info to a casting organization, along with a recent photo of me. I do have a professional headshot, but it was taken about 4 years ago, back when I still had long hair and blonde highlights. So all I did was send in some crumby webcam pic I took a couple months ago.
Lo and behold, about two weeks later, I get a call at work from a woman at the casting organization. I was pretty shocked. I’m a pretty big fan of “Boardwalk Empire” and think it’s truly one of the best shows on television, but I’m not as obsessed with the show as Lisa. That’s why it’s funny how I was the one who ended up landing the gig. But it always seems like the best things in life come to me when I just relax and take things in stride. I didn’t send in a long fake resume, claiming I’ve done a ton of TV work in the past and that I once shared the screen with Dustin Hoffman and all that bullshit. I just sent the e-mail to the casting organization with the attitude of “whatever happens happens.”
Needless to say, I was quite excited when I received the news. The woman on the phone asked if I was available to come in the next day for the costume fitting. Mind you, I had work the next day, but I didn’t give a shit. I’ve been working at my job for nearly a year and called out a total of 4 times. Who cares if I call out a fifth time? I could’ve probably asked them if there were any times available during the weekend when I could get fitted, but at that moment I just wanted to get fitted as soon as possible. I was going to be on TV and nothing was going to stand in my way.
It’s not like I was having false expectations. It’s not like they told me I was acandidate to be an extra on “Boardwalk Empire.” Obviously, if they wanted me to get fitted for a costume, they were serious about putting me on the show!
The next day came and I was absolutely psyched. I barely got any sleep the previous night, since I was running on adrenaline and stayed up all night watching “Boardwalk” episodes On Demand. But I didn’t feel fatigued at all. Even the rain that day didn’t get me down (which is unusual for me).
I took the bus from Freehold to Port Authority, and then took the subway to the station in Brooklyn that was blocks away from Steiner Studios. It was kind of a hike from the subway to the Brooklyn Navy Yard (inside of which Steiner is located). This particular neighborhood was, to put it nicely, quite a shithole. I had time to kill before my fitting at 4:30, so I figured maybe I’d take a walk around the neighborhood. Well, the neighborhood consisted of apartments, a bunch of abandoned-looking buildings, and some crappy Chinese takeout places. Not exactly a great place for sightseeing.
I arrived at Steiner Studios and strolled into the studio where the “Boardwalk” fitting was taking place. The venue resembled an airplane hangar… only with tons and tons and tons of wardrobe. The woman at the reception desk was very welcoming. This was my first time applying for a TV show gig, so I was somewhat expecting to meet some snooty jerks who’d totally look down upon me. Not the case at all. Then again, I wasn’t meeting with the producers. These were just the wardrobe people. These weren’t Hollywood types. They were the type of people you would expect to work at any typical garment factory: a group of (predominantly) middle-aged women and a few sassy gay guys strewn about.
Waiting for the fitting took nearly an hour, but you do have to consider that I showed up extra early. Since the fittings were by appointment only, there weren’t too many other extras in the little tiny waiting area. Most of them looked like me: handsome Caucasian dudes in their 20’s. Occasionally, you’d see an older gent stroll through the door.
For the most part, the extras kept to themselves. And then Joe showed up. Joe was an older guy who seemed to be in his late 40’s or early 50’s. He was stocky, bearded, and seemed like a real blue collar type. He was very friendly and sociable and immediately asked us if this was our first time being extras on the show. We all said, “Yes.”
Joe proceeded to reveal that he was an extra in the previous two seasons of “Boardwalk.” He went on and on about how great the crew was and how great the food was on set. Mostly, he went on about the food. “Oh, my God! The food! The food was so good! I don’t know if they’re gonna be shooting in Greenpoint, but the food they served on the Greenpoint set was so delicious. Oh, my God! You gotta taste the food! The food was to die for!”
The other extras just responded to his comments with simple nods, but I started asking him questions about what it was like being on set. He said that his only complaint was that sometimes they made him work long hours. Other than that, he didn’t have a single negative remark.
He showed me pictures of him on set, in the 1920’s garb. He even showed me a pic of his extra appearance on “Gossip Girl,” as well as a picture of him and Spiderman creator, Stan Lee.
Joe said he didn’t get to meet any of the actors on “Boardwalk,” but he was in the scene from Season 2 where Nucky got shot. He said that if you look hard, you could see him in the background ducking for cover.
I then asked Joe if he was a fan of the show and his response was, “I don’t have cable. I’ve never seen it.” It’s funny how after I revealed that I was an extra on the show, everybody cheered me on and supported me, but few of them actually watch the program. Here I was meeting this veteran extra on the show, who had all these cool stories to share, and he’s never even seen the show! Like I said before, he seems like a real blue collar type, so he probably can’t afford cable. But I still find it funny. Is everybody in this world living under a rock? I thought “Boardwalk” was one of the most popular shows on TV!
Anyway, as I was thoroughly engrossed in conversation with Joe, that’s when they called me to get fitted for the costume. At first the wardrobe ladies made me strip out of my clothes and get into a tank top/undershirt. The tank top was tight as shit and made me feel self-conscious. I looked like Marlon Brando in “Streetcar Named Desire”… if he had gained 30 pounds for the role. I told the wardrobe lady, “It’s a little tight.” She responded, “That’s because it hasn’t been fitted yet.”
Afterwards, they took all my measurements. They found me a brown 1920’s suit. When I put on the pants, the wardrobe lady gave me the disclaimer, “Now, remember, people back then wore their pants a little higher.” So when they first slipped on my pants, I looked like Steve Urkel. Luckily, the pants fit snugly, so it didn’t feel like my balls were in a vice.
Then I got fitted for the coat, the jacket, the fedora, everything. It kind of brought me back to high school, when I was doing the play “You Can’t take it with You.” The play was set in the 1930’s, so the costume fitting at Steiner Studios was actually the second time I was getting fitted for period clothing. Only this time it wasn’t that difficult to find clothes my size. Mind you, when I was in high school, I was as tall as I am now (6’0) and weighed about 230 pounds. So that was pretty embarrassing. Fast-forward to present day: it only took me about 20 minutes to get fitted.
Finally, I looked at myself in the mirror in the full suit. It was quite cool… and quite surreal. I hate to sound conceited, but I looked pretty damn awesome in that 1920’s suit. It’s funny how the casting people asked if I was OK with filming outside in the winter, wearing the period clothing. Wearing that suit, I would be warm and snug if the weather were 0 degrees. So unless the producer says, “OK, now it’s time for the skinny-dipping scene,” I’ll be just fine.
So it’s official. I am now a background player on the next season of “Boardwalk Empire”! Shooting begins Tuesday, February 21st and I can hardly wait! Of course, I don’t know if I’ll get called in for the first day’s shoot, but if not shooting will take place sometime around then. In a couple weeks, I’ll get called in to get my 1920’s haircut.
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Record 23 Primetime TV Shows Filming in New York City
Michael Bloomberg held his daily press briefing Monday from the set of
ABC fall season show “Pan Am” at Steiner Studios in Brooklyn.
NEW YORK - Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Monday once again emphasized the importance of entertainment productions to New York City, highlighting a record 23 primetime TV shows filming in the city’s five boroughs now.
Giving his daily press briefing from the set of ABC fall season show Pan Am at Steiner Studios in Brooklyn, Bloomberg said the entertainment industry supports 4,000 local businesses and contributes $5 billion to the local economy. Out of the 23 primetime projects filming now, at least eight are shows picked up out of this year’s 20 pilots shot in the Big Apple. The mayor highlighted that the city is also the home to 140 news programs, talk shows and reality series, while 200 films were shot here last year.
Continue @ Hollywood Reporter
TWEET: Steiner Studios / New York, NY
April 8th, 2013 — via @ToddDakotah
— ToddDakotah (@ToddDakotah)