Well, I'm not sure what happened with the scene where Major Hewlett gives his speech in the center of town. It's hard for me to imagine that it ended up on the cutting room floor, they put a lot of effort into shooting it. I think maybe during editing it was moved to Episode 3. We'll see. They don't tell me anything.
Anyways, I was in two scenes in the first twenty minutes so that was exciting! Of course it was only for a combined 5-6 seconds of screen time.
The first one was about seven minutes in. I was wearing a hideous straw mask (more on that later) and I'm building a bonfire with help from other villagers. Unfortunately, some screen hog
walked in front of me and blocked the view.
The second time was during the Guy Fawkes play as previously mentioned. That was the first day On Location for me and boy did I get the wrong impression. To begin with it was a breeze to get there. Hop on the highway, 30 minute ride, the Base Camp was right off the highway, we had an actual structure with real chairs and tables to sit at while waiting to go to the Set, they served us food fit for humans, there was heat, I could go on and on.
Here I am thinking that this was the easiest hundred bucks I ever made. Man did they pull a fast one on me.
The Guy Fawkes scene was extremely entertaining to be a part of. It took 3-4 hours to shoot what with retakes and resets. Angus MacFadyen who plays Robert Rogers, started a trend of shoving people around. As an extra you want to have that chance to be in the limelight but when Angus was in a scene you saw people moving away lest they get thrown into a wall, er - I mean jostled.
The Production Assistants (PA's) were carrying around bushel baskets filled with cabbage leaves, carrot tops (no, not that
one), onion peels and other various scraps of produce and urging us to grab a couple of handfuls. We then chucked it at Guy Fawkes, it got swept up and redistributed and then we chucked it again many times. There is no truth to the rumor that these veggies were served at dinner that day but it is quite possible that we got it for lunch the next day.
The second day On Location for me was the polar opposite.
To get there took about an hour total. First part was easy, right down the Interstate. Then off to increasingly smaller roads until eventually you get to the property and you still have about a ten minute drive because it's located on a vast farm next to a state prison (*see below). There's just a single lane, dirt (read:mud) track from there on including a narrow stretch with a pond on one side and a 50 foot drop on the other.
I got there at 8AM on a Tuesday morning and left at 2AM on Wednesday Morning. Yep. Eighteen hours. It was cold, wet and windy - during the day. At night it was even worse. We went from standing in ankle deep mud puddles to standing in frozen, ankle deep mud puddles. I seriously couldn't feel my feet for three days afterwards. I soon purchased a pair of hunter's socks and under armor.
Having said that, I still had a heck of a time. Seeing the Town Set for the first time was amazing. All of those buildings are real, albeit hollow, but from the outside you can't tell the difference. The water wheel on the mill works (powered by electricity of course), they planted a bunch of stuff like gardens, etc. and there was a lot of authentic props everywhere.
The animals and animal handlers were particularly interesting. There were always horses around but also an Ox team (named Calvin and Hobbes), chickens, ducks, goats and sheep. The sheep dog was freaking awesome! She loved herding those sheep. That dog was super intelligent. And this is coming from a cat person. A lot of times it was very boring there but watching the dog corral the herd was a perpetual highlight! The oxen were very obedient as well. The handler just had to speak to them and occasionally nudge em one way or the other and they did exactly what he said. I don't think I need to mention that because of the livestock roaming around it posed an obstacle of a different sort.
I mentioned a straw mask earlier. This day marked the beginning of the C
ady's vendetta against me. (Hey, CCL!) It began when she noticed me wearing my glasses between takes. I know that I can't wear them during shooting and always take them off but she didn't like it that I put them on between takes. I can't see for squat without them so I put them on so I can see what's going on and also can tell if someone's talking to me. You could be standing five feet away from me and talking to me and I wouldn't know. So I hear her saying something to a PA about "the guy in the glasses" and next thing you know they slam some grotesque, devil-looking straw mask on me. No way I can rock my lenses with that thing on my grill. She plagued me throughout the season but what do I know. I mean all Donna Zakowska has is a Costume Designers Guild Award plus an Emmy for John Adams and I'm just some putz in a scratchy straw mask.
It was seriously cold that night, literally freezing. When the Crew was re-setting cameras and re-positioning the Principals, the Background Performers were allowed to go into the fake houses to keep warm. There was no insulation and only a handful of propane heaters. One of the most surreal images I took away from this thing is the sight of 30 men and women in Colonial garb sitting on metal folding chairs inside of a facade and huddling around propane heaters. It was disconcerting to be sure. The cool thing about it though was we bonded a little (the ones who didn't quit) and that day became the stuff of legend. Even during shooting for Episode 10 newbies would ask for a retelling of the epic Bonfire Day.
The thing about the bonfire is that it was also manually operated. They could turn it up and down mechanically. We were freezing and trying to get closer to it when we were outside but it being a Harvest Festival they stuffed dry straw all over us. The fireman on scene kept telling us to move away from the bonfire but I think he was afraid we might throw him on the blaze if he tried to make us move too far away.
At one point around midnight (15+ hours in) a girl standing in front of me turned around and said to me, "I need you to hold me".
I stammered, "What?"
She replied with, "I'm about to fall down, I need you to hold me".
She started to slump into the frozen mud so I grabbed hold and made sure she didn't hit the ground. Fortunately one of the PA's was nearby and the paramedic was summoned. I'm not sure if she ever came back for more Calls, all of the women tended to look the same in those costumes plus it was dark and once again, no glasses
The Bonfire Scene also spawned one of the cast and crew's secret catchphrases of the show. During the night scene with the fire going you witness a Redcoat tossing an effigy into the middle of the inferno. The Director wasn't very clear at first how he wanted it done and as a result it wasn't performed to his liking. So he demonstrated how he wanted it done while shouting, "I want to see the f****r!"
From then on that was the go to line when anyone wanted to be able to see something!
Wow, just realized I wrote a book. I shall try to tell shorter stories in the future.
* Once I accidentally drove through the prison to get there and you are
allowed to do so. I didn't do it again.