For this DP we have to pretend as if there are only four jobs involving movies. Director, producer, lead actor and the writer. Personally I’d like to be some sort of grip, but I can’t be. Honestly I’d have to go with actor, or lead performer.
During my senior year of high school I got into acting. I had always wanted to be an actor, I just never had the guts to do it. Finally I auditioned for the school play and was cast as the lead role. It was awesome. I then performed in another play and called it quits, because I didn’t want to do the musical that year because I’m not big into singing and dancing. My school did Little Shop Of Horrors that year and I was sort of pissed when I went to see it and realized I could have been in it. Anyway…
That year we were given these “Senior Memories” books to fill out. They were to remind us, years down the road, what things were like way back when. One section in particular was all about our future and what we saw in it. One thing I put down for something I’d like to do in my future was have fifteen minutes in a movie.
That’s probably never going to happen, especially since I’m pretty sure I put down that it had to be a speaking role. In any case, later that school year I kind of sort of did a movie.
I heard on the radio that there was a movie being filmed at our local horse racing track, River Downs, and they needed extras. Anybody was welcome, and they needed the extras at noon. At school I told the main office that I needed to be let go early that day because I had to have my car worked on. They let me go. ACTING! I had to do that because my mom wouldn’t call and say I was sick or I had a doctors appointment. So I decided to go anyway and I figured I’d be home before she knew anything about it.
I stopped at White Castles and got some food then drove to the race track. Sure enough, I walked right in and nobody cared. The parking lot to the place wasn’t full and when I walked in I noticed there weren’t a lot of people there. In the middle of the main floor was a huge gathering and I saw cameras and directors and producers and actors and writers, but nobody else who works in movies. No cameramen or key grips or lighting people… ahem…
Anyway, it was while I was there looking around at the official people that I saw on the back of a jacket “B+ Productions.” That was the name of the company making the movie. They were so low budget they couldn’t even call themselves “A+ Productions” and just lie about it, kind of like how the cheapest and shittiest cigarettes still say “Class A Cigarettes” on the pack.
I also learned the name of the movie, “April’s Fool,” and how it was about some dude who did something. Whatever, I don’t remember. But there was a dude there, he was the main actor, and he had cuts and scratches on his face. I wasn’t sure if that was part of the movie or if he got his ass kicked before filming.
I filled out a paper saying I could be in the movie and they told me to go have a seat in a certain section and that they were going to be there shortly to film those scenes where they needed extras. I went and sat down. There were maybe twenty other people there.
Back then, in 1998, I didn’t have a cell phone to play on while I waited. I may have taken a book with me, which I didn’t get to read much of. While I was sitting there I noticed a guy sitting by himself a few rows below me and he kept turning around and looking at me. He was well dressed and cleaned up real nice, and I literally thought, “Is that Tom Cruise?” He looked a whole lot like him. But I figured even back then that Cruise wouldn’t be caught dead in this movie.
The guy finally came up to me and asked if he could sit with me. He noticed I was alone and he was alone so it would be better to pass the time if we could hang out. That’s it folks, he wasn’t hitting on me and he wasn’t trying to sell me time share. He was just bored. It didn’t take long before I was thankful he showed up, because holy shit, it took forever before they came to film anything where we were sitting.
The guy, I believe his name was Mark White, was a stand up comedian also wanting to be an extra for a big budget… well, a budget movie. We had a good time talking and shooting the shit. I say “shooting the shit” and mean “talking,” not “filming a bad movie.”
While we were talking I told him something I had thought up, and since have heard numerous times. “Isn’t it strange how packages sent by car are called ‘shipments’ while packages sent by ship are called ‘cargo’?” He thought that was hysterical and asked if he could use it in his routine. Since I had never copyrighted it I said it was okay.
I’m not sure what all we talked about, but at one point while we were waiting we decided to walk around. We went to the top floor, right next to where the escalator was, and looked down over the railing. Directly beneath us was where they were filming at a betting window. I’m not big into horse racing so I don’t know if that’s what they’re actually called, but that’s what they were doing. While they were filming, my watch, which was cheap and the band constantly broke, broke. A piece of it fell all the way down to where they were filming and landed right next to the main actor. I froze. Mark ran.
When they were done filming I asked somebody wearing a “B+ Productions” jacket if I could get the piece of my watch that broke and he said I could while they weren’t filming. I walked out and found the piece of my watch and put it in my pocket. I looked around and everybody was staring at me. The cameras were all pointed at me, the lights were all shining on me. It was awesome.
I quickly left, fixed my watch, and Mark and I went back to our seats.
We finally filmed some scenes, acting as a crowd watching a race happen. Then we went back down to the main floor and filmed some scenes as a crowd just walking back and forth in front of the betting windows. We were told not to look at the cameras, or look like we were acting. So as Mark and I walked by, we talked to each other while gesturing with our hands, about how we were supposed to be acting like we weren’t acting.
Eventually they wrapped and everybody left. I got home around eight o’clock that night. My mom wasn’t too upset.
I never spoke to or saw Mark again. With his dashing good looks I’m sure he’s somewhere in Hollywood, playing Tom Cruises stunt double. As far as the movie goes, I never got to see it.
Three years later I was serving at an Applebee’s when I happened to look in a paper at the movie section and saw where the movie was playing at our local artsy indy-film theater. I planned to go the following day, but when I called to see when it was playing I discovered the film had been pulled because another, bigger showing had come up.
Years later when I finally got online I searched for the production company, found some contacts and emailed them about it. I was told the movie was probably never going to be released for sale, but that someone might have a copy I could have or buy. That was the last I ever heard of it.
So if anybody has actually seen it, I gotta know… when the main actor is at the betting window, can you see my watch piece fall next to him?
UPDATE: Even though I haven’t posted this yet, this is an update. While looking around on the IMDB page for April’s Fool, the link I posted above, I saw Mark’s name in the cast! As it turns out he’s done several other movies, has some in the works, and has even made his own movie! Congrats Mark!
Also, if he was “Man In Stands #2,” I was “Man In Stands #1.” Just sayin. Oh, he doesn’t look like Tom Cruise, which I guess is a good thing nowadays.