Was That You I Saw on TV?

As I'm typing this on my work computer, I think it's safe to reveal a little bit more of my side gig that I've been doing  as a TV extra.

Look for me in this new TV show called The Bold Type, which premieres 11 July on Freeform. Honestly what that means on Canadian TV I have no idea. Maybe it'll be on Slice or some other channel, but maybe we'll be able to catch it online somehow à la CTV and watch one episode a week.

Anyhoo, The Bold Type is based on the life of Cosmopolitan editor Joanna Coles, set in New York. I've been part of an interesting ensemble of women (and a few men) who have been chosen to work in continuity, meaning, we come back onto the episodes several times as office workers (at least in my case). 

The Set
I obviously can't reveal any photos of the office set, but you can see a few things from The Bold Type's Instagram account. Quite honestly, I'm super impressed at the level of detail the crew has gone towards making this look as authentic as possible. Everything from the faux magazine covers (and there are hundreds) to fake book covers, to actual functioning computers, moving presentation screens, to even the master plan for the magazine layout (very Devil Wears Prada) down to the post-it notes and cut outs. No details spared. I've been in their "fashion closet" though not the one with all the shoes and handbags (I think that's another set), and have played around their jewelry tray in my one day being relinquished there (pictured above). Needless to say, with so much shooting going on in this office, it would be a shame not to showcase all the details there. For that I feel pretty lucky to get an up close and personal look at the set. 

The Actors
As this is a new show, I didn't recognize anyone except for Melora Hardin, whom most people would know as Jan from The Office. She's super profesh, whips her long lines like a pro, and have seen her dance between takes with her co-actors. Even if there were known actors on set, there's little chance for anyone to interact with them (not that you can anyway, they have to talk to you first) as most of the time, the re-sets are done relatively quickly and chaotically.

Hair, Makeup, Wardrobe
What I didn't expect is to have hair and makeup peeps on site for the extras. The actors have their own wardrobe and hair & makeup crew, but the extras also have theirs. But typically, we're asked to come already done up and that the crew only do touch ups. Though I have had my hair done because it sagged in the damp air when I came onto set. I get compliments from the makeup artists who really just run over a powder on my face and I'm done.

The wardrobe is really just our own clothes, with a select few who have the costume peeps accessorize them here and there. Our outfits are pre-chosen before the shooting begins, and I basically left like 1/3 of my closet in their hands, lol. They pre-select the outfit you'll wear for the day and it's really just putting on your own clothes. So I'm in both dresses and my cardigan & tie outfits. The yellow cardigan and blue tie that I wore on Million Dollar Listing may make an appearance in an episode again!

My "role"
As I have been part of the reoccurring office workers, I didn't get to have a designated desk in the office, so I'm a wanderer. I wander from point A to point B, bringing props, accompanying the photographer, and yes - have walked in front of the camera more than I had anticipated. The PAs on this set get 5 gold stars for simply remembering everyone's names by heart. And maybe I feel like they're being super generous with people to walk in front of the camera too, everyone gets their chance to swing by for a 1 sec pass. 

I can't say any plot details because honestly I don't know where or when the scenes we shoot happen in the timeline of the show. I don't know if we're doing episode 5 or episode 9. And even if I did, we're not allowed to say. Even if it was Game of Thrones, it would be hard to say what exactly is going on when you're reshooting a scene five or six times, you sort of zone out and numb yourself to the repetitiveness that you forget what the story is about. All I care about on the set is what the PA tells me to do and that I do it well. 

Filming Environment
After chatting up one of the few male BG actors, he admitted to me that we have it pretty sweet to be on this particular TV set. So far it has rained 3 out of 4 times I've been on set, but since it's being shot in a sound stage, we don't have to deal with bad weather. If it's too cold, there are blankets, and if it's too hot, they have AC. Many productions that are shot outside are at the mercy of the elements, whether it's -20C, or 35C, you still have to be outside for long hours and pretend to be happy and not melting (or freezing) in your outfit. You also get better craft services if it is a union production, as the non-unions will not serve you gourmet meals, and you are supposed to be fed every 3 hours (!) on union sets. So yes, as a first gig, it's easy to hope that all productions are like this, but as I've read elsewhere, TV productions usually treat you the best because it's small and they want everyone to be happy.

I just got an email about a blockbuster film production and it doesn't sound pleasant at all. Long hours, early call times, outdoors and hot as fuck. No thanks, I'll stick to my TV gig where it's temperature controlled. Call me a fair weather extra. This is why I could never be on The Amazing Race Canada, lol.

Overall, you can't ask for a better gig than this. This type of show was right up my alleyway. You know when you fantasize being part of a fashion magazine, that it's as glamourous as you dream it to be? Well, this is the best way of making that experience come true. I'm not really working on the magazine, but I get to be surrounded by fun props and an amazing set. It reminds me of my days at The Agency with larger than life characters that would walk through that office.

Whether or not I make any of the cuts remains to be seen, while it's true the long work hours have taken a toll on me (I nearly fell sick the next day after being on set two days in a row), I'm glad that at least this was the one summer gig that breaks up my routine. But as someone who has the freedom to choose the gigs I want to work on, I'm thinking I can do this again next year if the right project comes along.