Of Date Nights & Seahorses

Not too long ago, I heard tell of a caravan of filmmakers planning to create none other than… wait for it… yep a film, here in Bloomington, IN. Even more, they would actually be filming at The Pourhouse Cafe, which was my secondary place of employment at that time, and were looking for extras for the film. Without skipping a beat, I reached out to my manager to pick her brain for details. There was not much yet set in stone, but I got enough.

Shortly after I had heard about this opportunity, I emailed the production company that I was put in contact with. I sent them all of the required information and waited patiently.

I never heard back.

For those of you that don’t know me all that well; know now that a simple lack of response on a film production company’s part is not enough to keep me from finagling my way into their film.

The day of filming, I rushed straight to the Pourhouse after my shift ended at my full time job. My heart raced as  I arrived in the back parking lot and saw two trailers sitting there, the temporary housing of the stars of the movie I was about to assert myself on. Was this really happening? Was I really going to enter this party to which I had not been formally invited? You bet I was.

Excited but actually quite nervous, I called out my car window to the first chap I spotted, who was carrying clothing out the trailers at the time. He approached me cautiously, probably wondering who I was, how I had bypassed security to get into this parking lot, and why I was calling to him out of my window. I informed him that I had emailed about the extras casting, sheepishly admitting that I had not heard back but wanted so badly to be in the film.

The man seemed unmoved by my woeful tale of rejection, so I tried another angle. I then proposed that I go inside to speak with my manager to offer my assistance in preparing the food and drinks for the cast and crew. He gave me the green light, and she pleasantly accepted my help inside. Next thing I know, she comes back to inform me that she had spoken to the assistant director, and he would let me in as an extra! YES!

I was then directed to Costumes, where I was assessed, informed my outfit “just wouldn’t work,” and instructed to go home and change. I was willing to do whatever they needed at this point. I was about to be in my second movie. Did I mention that this wasn’t my first run-in with “acting?” Check out Rodeo Girl, starring Kevin Sorbo and Sophie Bolen sometime. It’s a real treat!

As I was driving home, I realized that that I was now faced with a genuinely difficult decision. I already had a date night planned with the lady, but surely she would understand? In my short sojourn home, I had received her somber and yet selflessly supportive blessing to give up date night to “have such an awesome experience.”

Can I just take a moment to praise my wonderful girlfriend? She is such a gem. Without fail, she always has the grace and love to put my needs above hers, and would give just about anything to make my dreams and desires come to fruition.

What kind of man would I be to abandon my plans with this amazing woman just to pursue my own fame and fortune? It was date night after all. I called back and offered three scenarios to choose from:

  • We go on our previously planned date and have nothing to do with the film.
  • We both go back to The Pourhouse, get rejected and go on our previously planned date.
  • We both go back to The Pourhouse, convince them to allow her in as well, and spend the evening on set filming The Good Catholic.

We arrived on set with determination in our hearts and our best “hipsters at a coffee shop” outfits, and walked confidently down to the basement room housing the extras for the evening. Next thing we know, the guy from the parking lot is inquiring as to who this young lady is, and where she came from. I had no idea before now, but this was the assistant director of the film, and he was now looking for answers.

“Well sir, this is my girlfriend. We had plans tonight before I showed up here, so I brought her back with me when I went home to change. It’s date night.” He chuckled, had her checked with Costumes, and welcomed her to the set.

Most of the night was spent waiting in the extras room with a small group of others who had not been chosen for the first scene that was filming that night, and we had a splendid time getting to know them, all the while sitting in wonderment that date night had taken such a turn.

Eventually, we were called upstairs, where we were seated at a table directly in front of the camera. We were to be a young couple on a date in the film. Date-ception, anyone? As you can probably imagine, the whole thing felt quite odd. I had no idea what it felt like to have a large Hollywood-grade camera 4 inches from my face. As I sat there, probably pale, I stared motionless into my girl’s eyes, and suddenly felt a dramatic increase in respect for actors and actresses. We were completely clueless, and all we had to do was pretend to be on a date (which we’ve done, no joke, close to if not more than 1,000 times). Acting is HARD.

We sat through the filming of a single scene at least 20 times, hearing the same lines repeated time and time and time again… Wow. Our table was placed directly next to that of the starring characters of the film, and it was such an incredible and surreal experience. These three were hilarious, and it was such a joy to get to know them through the evening. It’s amazing how easily we forget that the people we see on screen are real life human beings. Granted, the star actor was in two episodes of Gotham and had nearly made the cut to be none other than Captain America in the MCU.  At this point, I’d say I’m practically a sidekick by association… I digress.

We made it through the evening, and were asked to return the following night to film another portion of that scene. We were even told that we had to return, as we were already guaranteed to be in the film, and it would be noticeable if we were absent for the rest of filming. Boy oh boy was I excited now! Here we were, being guaranteed making it past the cut, and invited back to film more! I couldn’t have imagined this going any better. We are on our way to stardom.

We returned the following night for another grueling day of filming. Had I mentioned that both days were roughly 8 hours of sitting and/or filming? Date night had transformed into super-epic-and-slightly-painful-date-weekend. And man what a cool opportunity and blessing it was! To avoid sitting in the painfully bland basement as much as possible, I asserted myself as barista-man and made drinks for any and all of the cast and crew who so desired a drink, as well as restocking coffees and otherwise using my ninja-barista skills to please the powers that be. The assistant director especially enjoyed the 20oz mocha(s) with an extra shot that I made him. Brownie points!

As we finally closed out the night at approximately 2:30am, Katherine and I were invited to show up just a week later to film a different scene, and potentially appear twice in this film. However we cordially declined, finding this experience to be enough Hollywood for us for a while.

A combination of great timing and asserting myself upon a situation I greatly desired to be apart of, this turned out to be one of my favorite experiences in life so far; particularly here in Bloomington. I chose to do something I feel was extraordinary and I am so glad for the choice.

Much Love and Many Blessings Friends,

Brady J.L. Smith

 

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