----------------------------------------------- */ ----------------------------------------------- */ ----------------------------------------------- */ ----------------------------------------------- */ ----------------------------------------------- */ ----------------------------------------------- */ The Fabulous Adventures of Astera: Writer/Actress for Hire: The Glamorous Life of an Extra

The Fabulous Adventures of Astera: Writer/Actress for Hire

Meet Astera (aka: me), a star in her own mind. Our plucky little heroine has embarked on not one but two difficult, low-paying career paths: writing and acting. Witness the menial jobs! The unreasonable demands! The quirky friends and family! And the glimmer of success just ahead! Through it all, Astera maintains her core beliefs: 1) She is destined to be fabulous 2) Everything is more fun with a cocktail.

Friday, December 10, 2004

The Glamorous Life of an Extra

I had a lovely day today. Being on the set is fun, if slightly repetitive. Here's what I did today for the Transamerica shoot: I walked across the street. That's it. Just walked across the street. Over and over again. It still beats my regular office job, big time!

I headed into the City at 10 after nine and I'd found a parking spot by 10 to 10. That in itself is amazing. I didn't hit any traffic, I got a close parking spot, and I didn't even have to parallel park! (I'm still not very good at parallel parking. I think the problem is that my car is too big for me. I have a Toyota Camry, which is big for someone who's only 5'1". I'd probably do much better with a Mini Cooper or a little BMW. Well, maybe someday.) Anyway, it was too early to show up on set, so I strolled the neighborhood for awhile. I wandered in to a cute little greengrocer's shop. It reminded me of some of the stores on the Greek islands.

After walking around for abit, I thought that maybe I'd better move my car out of the two-hour spot. And it's a good thing I did, because just as I was about to leave, the little metering cart came by and chalked my tires. Luckily, there was a parking garage right across the street from the meeting point, and it was only $9 if you were in before 10:30--that's cheap for SF.

So, I was in my little suit and I'd brought another business dress, along with some pants and a sweater if they wanted a more casual look. I also had a selection of coats, and quite a few magazines and books to keep me occupied if we were sitting around waiting for a long time. The makeup assistant who greeted me, Nicole, was super-nice. Unfortunately, there was no room for me in the trailer, so I had to stand outside for a little while, and it was a bit chilly. But I got to watch a group of Asian women doing tai chi in Washington Square Park while I waited. It was very restful. Perhaps I should take up tai chi. Perhaps it would calm my inner bitch.

Eventually, Chris, the wadrobe lady, took a look at me and said my suit was just fine. The pearls were a nice touch, I thought. Nicole finally got me a space in the trailer, so I sat and read my magazine while waiting for something to happen. Already I could tell that this wasn't going to be a quick shoot. The first AD said that the crew was still setting up the shot and then lunch would be at 11:30 and we wouldn't start shooting until after that. Laura, the makeup artist, did my face before lunch. She also made my hair look very corporate. Then we waited some more. The extras did not get to have lunch, but we did get some snacks, like roasted almonds and Oreos. I struck up a conversation with Chad, one of the other extras. There were only three of us, and I was the only girl. Chad was close to my age...the other extra was an older gentleman.

Finally, they took us up to the shoot site. We were up on a hill near Coit Tower, and the Transamerica building was silhouetted in the background. It turned out to be a beautiful, sunny day, and not too cold, either. Still, I was glad of my short black trench. Good thing they liked the look! So we were given briefcases to carry. I had a little black portfolio, Chad had a shoulder bag, and the other extra had a traditional suitcase. Then we practiced walking across the street, with Chad and I on one side and the other guy on the other. Back and forth we went, while the principal said his one line: "I wanna golf...every day." And he was supposed to say "wanna," not "want to." No wonder no one enunciates properly any more.

So basically, we just stood around in the sunshine, chatting. I gave Chad some Christmas gift ideas for his live-in girlfriend, and he tried to help me with ideas for my husband. We talked about this and that. He recommended that I have a more focused blog and try to make it a moneymaker. The problem is, I don't really have an area of expertise, except in grammar, and I don't know that too many people are interested in that, given the state of the English language today. But look at the popularity of that book, Eats, Shoots & Leaves. Maybe there's something to it. The older extra seemed to get quite worked up about the topic. So maybe eventually I'll start something new: Astera on Grammar, or some such.

By 2:30, we were done. We were driven back down to the trailer, where we were each given a check for $200. Essentially, I was paid $50 an hour to loiter outdoors! Plus, they reimbursed me for parking. I had to foresight to bring some jeans and a sweater to change into, and then Chad and I had lunch in North Beach. He said that the four of us--him and his girlfriend, me and Greg--should all hang out sometime. It would be nice for Greg and I to have a more active social life. It's just so difficult to make new friends once you're out of college. The workplace is supposed to be a good place to meet new people, unless you work with a bunch of older, boring men, as I do, or with a bunch of older, divorced ladies, as my husband does.

By the time we were done with lunch, it was much too late for me to go into the office. Too bad. So, I braved the traffic northward, and treated myself to a shopping spree at Macy's, where I promptly spent more than I earned today. And I only bought things for myself, when I was supposed to be buying Christmas presents for other people! How selfish. The good thing is that I had a big credit at Macy's, thanks to all the wedding gifts we returned. But now I still have to buy Christmas presents, and I don't know what to get anyone on my list. I need presents for my parents, Greg's parents, my two brothers (25 and 18), and, of course, Greg. Suggestions would be welcome, dear readers!


  • At 6:35 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Cheers Sis! I have been following this little outlet of yours and it makes me laugh constantly, but in a good and serious way. So, I noticed you want advice on Christmas presents. None of us actually need anything so I am sure whatever you give will be generous enough. Keep up the writing, it truly is your gift.

  • At 12:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Ha, I'm famous! I really enjoyed the conversations amidst the subtle entertainment of the production crew. Such an uncharacteristicly beautiful december day for San Francisco! You should definitely pursue a business directed blog. As we talked about, corporate america needs tremendous help with lingustics- that is just a cash cow waiting to happen. We will all have to get together soon.

    My best,



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