Video Rewind: Whip(ping) It with Drew
If you would have told me that I would be writing a Video Rewind column that I knew something about, I would have said you were crazy.
Well, there was this one time that I worked for free as an extra on Tiger Town, but that doesn't count here.
Once upon a time, the film industry came to Michigan and with it, brought a lot of movies and celebrities. It wasn't uncommon to run into someone famous or accidentally pull up to a filming location.
But, above all, it was an exciting time.
When I had heard that Drew Barrymore was in town scouting locations for a movie that she was going to direct (her directorial debut by the way) I told my friend that he was crazy and then when I heard it on the news, I had to eat my words.
Okay, so my real job kept me from watching the news and since this was April, Drew and company wouldn't be arriving until the summer.
For the most part, I had forgotten about it and then I had heard of a few other movies coming to town. I thought it would be fun to at least be an extra on something.
In July, I had registered with a local extra's agency for another movie. They desperately needed extras for a parade scene. I sent my picture to them (and thought that the next day I'd work on it, but didn't hear from them). It was okay since I had taken the day off anyway.
I did, however, get an availability check email with many dates listed.
My new vacation time was kicking in on August 11, so, why not take a couple of days off and go "goth" for a worthy cause.
Of course, I didn't have the look that they were going for, but I was invited to attend filming and a couple of days before shooting, I was tattooed up and I even dyed my hair jet black. I had never dyed my hair before, so, this was a new messy experience.
With dog chains and spray on tattoos, I arrived at the location on Monday morning, bright and early at eight a.m. Of course, I parked in the wrong area with a couple of other people, but it was okay.
After checking in, we had to fill out paperwork and basically wait until we were called onto the set.
I don't think we were called onto the set until eleven or so and we were in the warehouse where the derby matches were filmed. The only thing you could do was look around in amazement as here you were, on an actual movie set.
There weren't that many of us, many 150 or so and throughout the day we were placed at various points around the track. Oh, and even though it was a beautiful, low humid day outside, it was sweltering inside.
Occasionally, we would get a sip of water and I was afraid that my fake tattoos and bad dye job were melting.
Whip It! is about a girl named Bliss (Elliot Page) who wants to find herself and auditions for Hurl Scouts, a roller derby team in Austin, Texas. She fakes her age when she's accepted onto the team and keeps it a secret from her parents. Within the derby world, she becomes quite the celebrity.
With this in mind, we were there for the "bouts" of the Hurl Scouts and the Fright Attendants. Even watching the stunt work (yes, the girls really did their own) was amazing and how it was choreographed was just as impressive.
If you were lucky enough to be down by the track, it was a blessing whenever Page rolled by since she would create a breeze, albeit for a second. Sometimes the others would skate by, but not as much as Page.
Since they had to re-shoot a scene, we were able to witness the Black Widows, but, unfortunately, I couldn't work the next day, so I don't know what other scenes they were shooting.
It was a long, exhaustive day of pantomiming, holding sticky (and sometimes dented) beer cans, and sweating, but well worth the "price" of admission. I only wished that I could have worked on it more.
Through the magic of film making, Page gets on the senior citizen bus in Michigan and gets off in Texas. Just thought you'd like to know.
And it's also hard to believe that the movie will be celebrating it's 10 year anniversary on October 4, 2019.
This opened the door for me and, yes, I always thought that extras had the best jobs in the world and was glad that I was one for this historic moment for Barrymore.
A year later, I'd be doing a lot more extra work and learning a lot more behind the scenes, so follow me as I take you on my journey on Video Rewind.