On Thursday February 2, 2017 I was browsing Facebook and received a notification that my friend Norma had tagged me in a comment. I clicked and realized she was letting me know that the TV show Nashville was looking for extras to work on the show the next day. Before even responding, I quickly sent an email
to the company with my name, phone number and photo. Then I went back to
Facebook to thank Norma and to let her know I had done it. I had tried this a
few years ago, and didn’t get my email to them in time, was turned down, and I
decided not to pursue it. Until Thursday. I didn’t hold my breath, because I had
been turned down before.
About an hour later, I checked my emails, because I figured they would be
getting in touch with people quickly since it was for the next day. Sure enough,
the response was there. I had been booked!! There were initial directions to
follow. The main one was that you were hired and had to be there. They
count on everyone to be there to make the scenes work right. Directions saying
they would be using strobes and lightning flashes and what to do if you had
epilepsy or the flashes affected you. They also said to check their website
after 8 pm with the particulars on what to wear, where to report, what to bring.
Wow, this was really happening.
I also went on the website for the casting company just to see what they were
about. I saw there was a place to register. It’s a free service, you can be
seen by people looking to cast parts and I thought, why not. I filled out the
profile, added a couple pictures, and submitted it. I was curious to see what
would come of it.
Of course, I got no sleep. I had no idea of what to expect, what would be
expected of me. So, on about 4 hours of sleep I started my day
I had been told to report at noon. They were bringing people in by their last
name to get everyone signed in. At 10:30 I caught an Uber from the house. I am
not familiar with the Trinity Hills area of town, so I really had no idea where the
set was. Neither did the Uber driver. We were talking and missed the turn onto
the correct street. We got turned around and found the street. The Uber
driver remembered he had dropped people off here before. He pointed out a
huge nondescript Warehouse with a razor wire fence around it. As we came
around the curve, I saw a huge parking lot with trucks, cars everywhere. There
was a guard at the gate. I had been told to tell him I was an extra today, and
present my ID. He just asked for my name, checked it off his list and made
sure the Uber driver was just dropping me off. He told me where the door
was, and I thanked him.
My first thought on the lot was, Oh no, porta-potties. I go in the door marked
Extras Entrance. I walked up a few stairs, opened a door and walked into this
HUGE room. There were tables to my left, an area set up with snacks and
drinks and tables with steam pans. Then more tables. Very nervous I sat
down with some people at the first table on my left. Turns out the three
people, Cathy, Roger and Iris were regulars. Good, I had sat down at the right
table!! There was also a young man there, Goria. It was obvious he had some
challenges, but was very friendly. I quickly struck up a conversation with them. I
was told they were still calling the 11:00 people, and to just wait until they called.
I was told we could help ourselves to the snacks and drinks. I waited a bit on
that as to not seem overeager.
I looked around the room. I’m in a warehouse with truck bays that were not in
use. I can see the backside of sets. I tried to identify them. One was
definitely a hospital room, the other had stained glass windows that were
reminiscent of the Ryman Auditorium, but the shape wasn’t right. Down the
hallway were stacks of boards. I’m thinking, the illusion has just been shattered,
I will never watch this show the same way again. There was a table set up with
signs that said Extra Sign In. Three people were manning the tables and the
lines were going at a nice pace. There was an area where two people were at
a table and there were two tents behind them. I would learn this was
wardrobe. There were two makeup tables with lights for us to use if we
needed to. And LOTS of people.
I had been hired as a concert goer. Cool. I don’t really have an issue with the
music on this TV show. I was hoping the “concert” was good. Cathy told me that
it was not a sit down concert, that we would be standing. Oh great. I hadn’t
thought of that. No big deal. In for a penny, in for a pound. I knew I could get
through today, but knew if it was too much, I would not be doing it again. This
has been on my bucket list, i can cross it off, and at this point I had no idea
what would come next in my new “career’.
At noon they called Letters N-Z on the concert goers, and the specialty extras,
security guards, ViP’s, etc. I got in line. I had already made a copy of my SS
card and license. I didn’t have a long wait. I gave the girl my name and the
paper with my particulars on it. She told me I was number #295. So I’m
guessing there were close to 350 people there. I was given a form that was
called a voucher, so that I can get paid, a residency form and a Nondisclosure
form. Meaning I can’t talk about anything I see on the set until after the episode
airs. The girl also started filling out my I-9 form with the info from my DL and
SS card. Then she tells me to go to wardrobe. I am officially on the clock.
So, I goofed up here. I misread the email. I was supposed to bring 3-4
changes of shirts. I had a grey sweater on. We looked at each other for a few
seconds and the lady said “Is this all you have?” I said yes and explained I
didn’t know i had to bring extra clothes. She said no matter what, always bring
extra, because if they have too many people wearing the same color it makes
for bad television. So I was given a pass on what I was wearing. I thanked
them for the information, then went to my table and sat down.
My tablemates and I are getting to know each other. I fill out my form and ask
what to do with it. Cathy said it’s best to keep it on you, since your SS
number is on it. I folded it up and stuck it in my back pants pocket. I also
went to the snack table and got some nuts and chips. I had brought a bottle
of water with me. Cathy and Roger were telling me how they came from
Kentucky on a regular basis to do this and that it’s about a two and a half hour
drive for them. I came to find out that people come from everywhere. I think
the person who had come the furthest was from Virginia, an over 8 hour trip.
That just seems crazy to me.
So we’re sitting, talking and getting to know one another. Nothing is happening.
Goria keeps asking when we would be working. Cathy tries to explain that we
would be sitting for awhile.
About 2:00 Will comes out to let us know that we would be called back soon, but
he was needing some people to be on an 8 foot riser. He was at our table so
I put my hand up. I figure, volunteer for everything. I had no idea what a riser
was, but if it turned out to be too much I’m sure they would move me.
I kind of felt things were going to get started soon. I had to use the bathroom
and asked Cathy about it. Yeah, the porta-potties. So I went outside and used
one. I almost lost my Pandora bracelet in it when I lost a loop that was holding
it on. I guess it wasn’t closed tightly. I came back in, sat back down at the
table and continued talking. We’re all getting more comfortable with each other.
Cathy told me about a country music video that Roger was in, so I went onto
YouTube to watch it. It was filmed here in town, and it was nice to see the
downtown area, and know someone in the video. Cathy’s next piece of advice is
that no cell phones were allowed on the set. She was kind enough to let me
put it in a pocket of her garment bag. They don’t want anything leaked before
the show airs.
Finally. At 3:30 will comes out announces we were going to go back to the set.
We would be wanded to see if we had our phones or any recording devices on
us. He announced how he wanted us to line up, and the riser people were the
last ones to go in.
We walked about the length of a city block to get back to the “venue”. We
passed other sets, lights, building materials. There was a table on the left just
before we hit the set that had been set up with cups filled to different levels
with colored water to signify beer. Plus they had some small cell phones that
we used to “record” the concert. Again, I volunteered. It’s something I like to do
at concerts anyway! The people on the riser are directed to a different
entrance. There was a nice set of steps, about a 30 foot long platform 8 feet
above the floor. We filed up and took places along the railing. I looked down.
There was a track with two cameras on it. The “venue” floor was filled with the
other people. I looked for the people I had been sitting with.
I looked up at the stage. The backdrop said The Ex’s. I haven’t seen the show
since the middle of the third season. This is the fifth season they’re taping.
Hmmmm. There are people on stage. A small blonde girl at one microphone
standing still so they can get lighting levels and whatever other markers they
needed. I’m thinking “that must be Scarlett”. The guy though. Not knowing who
the Ex’s are I looked at the guy at the other microphone. I thought Gunnar or
Deacon. But Deacon didn’t make any sense since he’s Scarlett’s uncle. In a
few minutes Clare Bowen and Sam Palladio came out. We had already been
given our direction. The camera’s were filming towards the stage and there
was a camera behind the people on the riser. The song starts, Clare and Sam
start performing. The song is great!!! The energy these two put out was
amazing. It took three takes to get it done. You could see that poor Clare was
exhausted. But only off the camera. She “sang” and danced the hell of the
song. We had been told to cheer. We really didn’t have to be told. You
instinctively wanted to do it, that’s how good the performance was.
After the stage was clear, the second director, a very cool dude, came out and
told us they would be releasing us and we would have an hour unpaid lunch
break. Lunch was catered. Spaghetti, Cauliflower/Broccoli/Carrot mix, garlic
bread, salad, and fresh fruit mix. Cathy told me the cast and crew ate at the
same time, but they had better food! We went through a line, fixed our plates
and then went and ate. The spaghetti was noodles, and they had meat and no
meat sauce. It was pretty decent.
Will came out as we started eating and told us that he would be calling some of
us back around 5:30. If we weren’t called, we were to hang tight. He came
back awhile later and called for the specialty actors. A bit later he came back
out asking us who was a first time extra. I raised my hand. There were a lot
of us. We got to go to the front of the :”Venue”. This is not only because we
were new, but if they used the same extras up front, the TV viewing audience
would know, they would start to recognize people.
Around 6 they called us back. I managed to be right near the front of the pack
going back to the set. Again, the long trek to be wanded. Then the long trek to
the “venue”. I again picked up my phone. Then we had to wait. The scene
before ours wasn’t done yet. We were standing right by an open truck bay.
And such crybabies. It was cold, sure. But they weren’t dying. I wonder if
these same people cried about sitting so long and not doing anything. I just
kept my mouth shut and enjoyed.
Finally they let us in. There was a mad dash to the front. I still did pretty
good. I was about in the third row right in front of Gunnar. Again the stand-ins
were on the stage. This time, the camera’s were on the stage. So hopefully I
will appear on screen. The techs adjusted the camera’s, Clare and Sam came
out and performed the song again. We had been told not to lip sync since the
song was brand new. Again their performance was spot on. And being right up
front was thrilling!! I again “recorded” the concert. And when it was over the
cheer was loud, animated and heartfelt. It was done in one take. Before Clare
left the stage she thanked us. That was sweet.
We finally get back to the table. Cathy and I are laughing and carrying on.
Suddenly she says “someone is going to die” in a sing song voice. I said who.
She said she couldn’t tell me because of the Nondisclosue agreement. I
playfully get mad at her, tell her I hate her, etc. Suddenly she says “stalker”
again in singsong. I haven’t seen the show, but I did see last weeks commercial.
Rayna? Yup. By now that episode has aired too, so I can say this. Wow,
Rayna has been on Nashville from the start. How can the show continue
without her? Cathy said that Connie Britton had talked about leaving the show.
Yes, I had heard that, but didn’t believe it would happen. I heard she died of an
infection, so I’ll have to watch to find out what happens. I ask Cathy if the
hospital room set was her room. Yes, it was. Wow.
I got up and walked around for a bit. I sat down and was talking to Matt and
Sean. They are wrestlers, and had driven up from Georgia. While we were
talking Will came out and said they were only keeping the first 60 people, the
rest could leave. I was right at the start. #2. After he counted the 60 he
asked for the first 10 to come with him. We followed him quite a ways to
another area of the warehouse. We ended up standing around for about an
hour and a half. We were able to talk until they said rolling. We had to be quiet
then. We joke around and I got to know Sean better. Somehow we got
separated from Matt. The scene in another room went on over and over. A
couple times they came out and called a couple people in. I wasn’t one of
them. Finally dude said for the new people, people who hadn’t been in that
scene to follow him. We walked another long distance to a hallway. I saw Clare
sitting in the dressing room. We went to another hallway. I asked the Security
guard what this was supposed to be. He said the back hallway for the Venue
we had seen the concert at. I was placed for a long shot. I was miming talking
to the security guard. Clare walked right by me, did the scene and me and the
other girl talking to the security guard were dismissed. We went back to the
holding area and waited. About 10 minutes later everyone came out. We lined
up to sign out. I had lost my paper. When it was my turn, I told Will what had
happened, he gave me new ones to fill out, and I went back to where I had
initially been sitting. Don’t you know my paper was there? I get back in line, got
signed out and my day was over. So minus lunch I worked 8.5 hours at $8
hour. Not bad for 45 minutes work.
When I got home, I checked my email. I had been approved at the agency. I
can be searched, if someone is looking for someone that fits my type. I can
also respond to open casting calls like I did yesterday. I will be doing this again!!
Afterthought. I woke up the next day at a level of tired I have never been
before. Sitting in anticipation is a very hard thing to do. Standing for an hour
and a half, waiting to see if they will use you is hard. If you decide to try this,
wear comfortable shoes. Unless you are in a scene where they actually see
your feet, no one will care. You can always bring along a cute pair if they’re
called for. I had flats on. My ankles, and feet are killing me two days later. If I
had my sneakers on, I would have been fine. Be prepared to sit, forever.
Bring a book, something to listen to. Find nice people to talk to. Bring a
sweater, It gets cold in the winter. I heard in the summer, it’s like an oven.
Remember to follow your email to a T. Enjoy, I did!!
Cover Photo courtesy of CMT.