Gone Girl day 2: Gone to sleep

Except for a lack of sleep, I was totally ready for my 2nd day working on the set of Gone Girl.  I had my radio, my call sheet, and the same pile of button-up shirts I brought the first day at the request of the casting company.  Today I expected to actually be standing in for Boyd so I was really looking forward to it, as well as wondering how that was going to work with my P.A. duties.

Well, the answer was that it wasn’t.  I walked out to the van at 6:40 and there stood Yarden.  “Zach, my man.”

“What’s up Yarden?”

I got in the van which already contained another crew member and Jody, Rosamund’s stand-in.  A 4th joined us a minute later.  His name was Paul, and he had just arrived from St. Louis to join the Production team.  Yarden poked his head in the van and said, “Zach, do me a favor and give Paul your radio.”  Shucks.  Just when I was ready to show that I almost knew what I was doing.  Oh well, I had stand-in work to do today so it was cool.

I got to base camp at the Giant City Lodge and commenced eating breakfast.  Egg casserole; pretty good.  I downed a second cup of coffee to help prop up the four hours of sleep I was running on.  Ryan asked where my radio was and I told him I gave it to the new P.A.  He gave me a thumbs up, then told me to go to the wardrobe trailer to “get my colors”, aka costume garb.

To get to the wardrobe trailer I had to go out and ask a van driver to give me a ride.  She took me a half mile or so down the hill to another parking lot where there were 3 trailers parked.  She pointed out the correct one and I went inside.  There was a woman there who I asked about my colors, and she directed me to Tom the wardrobe boss.  I stepped outside to meet Tom and he said he would bring my stuff up to me at base camp and that I could go back up.  So I hopped right back in the van and headed back to the dining/check-in/dressing room area.

The room filled with more people over the next hour as extras and crew arrived.  Some extras were brought back from the day before and some were new.  We one-day veterans enjoyed regaling them with stories of the previous day and everyone was getting along well.  Sidney (Lola’s stand-in) and I immediately got sucked into some kind of old lady card game that played similar to Scrabble with an old pistol of a gal named Elsie.  No sooner had we played our third round when Ryan came in and asked for almost all the extras, leaving only a few people left there.  I then decided I needed cup of coffee number three.  I took a sip, then decided instead that I needed to have a power nap.  Boyd’s first scene was #3 on the day’s schedule, so who knows how long it would be before I got called out.

I laid my head down for about 10 minutes until I heard Ryan walk in and say, “aww, we already lost this guy.”  I decided it probably wasn’t appropriate to straight up sleep in the waiting area, so I went back to the coffee.  Boy, this was going to be a long day.

Yesterday the weather forecast was for rain, but it had cleared overnight and we had sunshine all day.  Because of that, Fincher basically threw most of the schedule out in favor of doing some of tomorrow’s scenes such as a couple of them at the pool, and one in the water tower.  Sidney got called out to the pool leaving me pretty much alone for a few hours.  I knew better than to not bring any books or anything, but I thought I would be doing P.A. work to fill my downtime.  Whoops; here I was again left to wait for hours with nothing to do.

Extras came and went and I had fun getting to know a couple more of them.  Tom came in at 10:20am and gave me my colors.  I think I pull off the redneck poacher look pretty well.


I waited another couple hours until finally I got called out.  Ok, here we go!  Sidney was there to walk me to the set and give me the rundown on how things go.  Not much to it; she just told me who the important people were, including Courteney, David’s 1st assistant director.  We introduced ourselves to each other and she directed us to climb the spiral staircase to the water tower.  I hadn’t received the script pages yet and asked her for a copy.  She gave me hers.  I felt a little silly about that when we got to the top of the tower and I had a look at the scene we were doing.  Boyd had one whole line.  I could have just read from Sidney’s copy.  Oh well… now at least I have my own.

I was wowed by the treetop view of the surrounding forests for a moment until I heard David calling for us to go to the railing.  This is where I finally got my first directions from David Fincher:

“Zach, move six inches closer to Sidney.  Ok now bend over and hang your arms over the railing.  Good.”  Yay!  We stood there for about 10 minutes while they positioned the cameras.  In that scene, Lola and Boyd were to simply stand in those positions and interact with Rosamund as she walked down the sidewalk below, so most of the “fun” stand-in work was happening with Jody down below.  Production assistants marked the sidewalk with tape using a tape measure – Sidney told me how Fincher is extremely detailed in his setup – at the pool earlier he wanted the chairs to be so many inches apart, etc.  He then directed Jody to go through the motions and look up at us while they zeroed in the cameras.

After that, Lola and Boyd came up.  I saw Boyd hanging around a couple times yesterday but didn’t say anything to him.  And now was not the time either; it was time to get down to business.  And oh, what tedious business it was.

Amy is hustling down the path with a plastic bag full of cleaning supplies.

JEFF:  Yoo-hoo!

Amy looks around, mystified, then looks up at JEFF and GRETA, hanging out, sharing a joint.

GRETA:  Climb on up!

AMY:  I’ve got laundry.

GRETA:  Bumper boats later?

AMY:  Yea, sure.  Sounds good.

Shooting those five lines and 10-15 seconds of camera time took from about 12:45 to 3:30.  True story.  Fincher is so incredibly meticulous; it’s almost unbelievable.  He micromanages everything, and every part of his camera shots are crafted to his liking.  He cut two branches off of one of the nearby trees and attached them to booms to customize the shadows they cast over Rosamund when they did shots of her from above.

The one moment I got to talk to Boyd was about a 20 second break in the action.  Fincher stepped away from the monitors to change something on set, and Lola and Boyd turned and walked away from the railing.  Boyd came right up to me and introduced himself.  “Hey man, you’re my stand-in?”

“Yea, I’m Zach.  Nice to meet you!”

“Cool.  Are you from around here?”

“Yea, Cape Girardeau…”

(from below) “… come to the front!”

All of us thought David was calling for stand-ins, so Sidney and I rushed to the railing.  “No, team one to the front.”  Crap!  We ran back and the actors took our places.

They have two cameras at their disposal.  We began with one on the ground facing up toward the tower to show Rosamund in the foreground and Lola and Boyd in the background.  The 2nd was set up on the sidewalk facing her as she approached.  We took I don’t know, maybe 20 takes in that orientation.  Then they changed one of the cameras to be a closeup of Lola and Boyd from the ground and we did 20 or so more takes.  Then they moved one camera to the side to catch Rosamund head on as she turns to face the tower, and one on a crane above her facing down.  30 or so takes from that orientation.  I’m telling you, the man is a complete perfectionist.  I did enjoy the last half hour or so though when they had Lola and Boyd descend one level lower on the tower (both cameras were off them, focused on Rosamund), allowing me to move back to the front and look down and watch the whole production.

At that point all of us still waiting on the tower – me, Sidney, Paul the P.A., the prop guy feeding Boyd an endless amount of burning clove cigarettes (the joint), and Tom – were starving for lunch.  Lunch was scheduled for 2:00… oops.  But finally we were relieved and told to descend from the tower.  Of course the moment we got on the ground, David noticed something he didn’t like about the last few shots.  Something about a light reflection they needed to change, so they brought over a black truck to park in the space by Rosamund to affect the lighting, sent Lola and Boyd back up, then did about 10 more takes.  I can’t imagine what it’s like to have to go back through all that video and piece together all the best shots into one perfect scene.  I would love to know the number of terabytes of digital video they end up with by the time filming is over.  Petabytes even.

We finally broke for lunch and I stuffed my face big time.  Ryan sat across from me and Sidney and we had some good conversation about various movie-themed things.  At one point Ryan did a Richard Dreyfuss impression while building a mesa with his mashed potatoes.  (Name that movie.)  It was fun.

After that there wasn’t much else.  I was quickly losing touch with consciousness as my metabolism broke down dealing with my overstuffed belly.  At about 4:45 Ryan came in and said they were wrapping me.  I changed out of my colors, gave them to Carrie from wardrobe, and waited for Ryan to come sign me out and send me to the van.  I finally got out of there at 5:30.  Short day for me today!  I will actually get a full night’s sleep tonight.  I’m so happy.

Oh, and screw carrying 4 shirts on hangars to base camp again tomorrow.  Thanks casting, but it looks like Tom has me all set.


  • my career as a P.A. has ended
  • did my first bit of standing in
  • Boyd seems very nice
  • Fincher is cruelly meticulous (but if that’s what it takes to make Fight Club, I’m on board)
Posted in Gone Girl | 1 Comment

Gone Girl day 1: Lost in the woods

all posts in this blog series will probably contain spoilers… YE BE WARNED!

If every day goes like today did, then I will have so much to write about that these posts are going to get longer and longer.  I love sharing all the gory details but I realize the story can be told without them, so from here on out I will put the summary points in bold at the bottom in case you want to skip to the bottom tl;dr style and get to the major points.  If not, read on and see how it all happened.

First off, I need to set the record straight here.  Remember how they like to give me as little information as late as possible?  Me, the guy who consciously refrains from speaking in absolutes when I don’t know something absolutely, let a big one slip.  I am not standing in for Neil Patrick Harris.  I am standing in for Boyd Holbrook who is playing the Jeff character.  My previous assumption was surely born out of hope and ignorance.  IMDB doesn’t have an actor listed for Jeff yet (you heard it here first!) so there was nothing to go on except that NPH is blonde and we might have the same builds… who knows.

Anyway, the morning started off with a bang.  Remember how I was supposed to get in a van at 8:30 to be shuttled to the set?  Well it turns out that said van never existed.  There was no scheduled shuttle after 7:30.  After a couple phone calls to the folks at the casting office it was decided that I needed to drive.  No big deal, except that I was 20 minutes away from a place I needed to be in 20 minutes.  That’s a terrible feeling.

I drove like a bat out of hell heading for the address that I typed into my phone at 8:40.  It turned out to be a location in the nearby Giant City State Park (an awesome place that I need to revisit as a tourist).  The highway turned into this windy park road and of course addresses in online directories lose all meaning when you cross the boarder into state park territory.  I sped around the who-knows-how-big park until I finally stumbled upon the base camp.  I made my way in at 9:03, thinking I had committed a major fuckup… in Hollywood if you’re on time, you’re late…

But it turns out they weren’t filming any Jeff scenes anyway.  I think there was an optional one they might have filmed if they had time… but, haha.  “Have time.”  Today I finally got to witness the real inner workings of AAA movie production.  And boy was it both like and unlike what I expected.  But first, the waiting.

Yes, more waiting.  Waiting in the wardrobe/dining room with all the extras.  Waiting for hours and hours.  They finished filming the first scene right before lunch.  A family of 4 extras walked in and told us about their experience hauling luggage into a cabin over and over and over for 100+ takes over four hours.  What… that is absurd!  100+?  It was the kids telling the story but Dad backed them up the whole time, so I took their word for it.  As we all went through the lunch buffet line and sat down, the production crew started piling in.  And with them, in walked the man himself as well as the girl playing Greta, Lola Kirke (she is stunningly beautiful… those photos on IMDB don’t do her justice).

Most everyone including myself have been preparing themselves to not be starstruck when these people come around (although my Starstrike Protection Buffer did run out later and got me in a tiny bit of trouble…).  They sat down across the room from where I and most of the other extras were seated.  “Cool,” I thought.  “It’s David Fincher in real life.”  They disappeared before lunch was over and I quickly got back to doing nothing.

There was a lady with a staff badge that was hanging out with the kid extras who I could only describe as the official staff grandma.  She spent all her time playing with the kids and keeping them occupied with origami and other various art projects.  She was really sweet.  There was even a crew member who came in at one point and made an origami dragon for the kids.  I thought that was pretty cool.  Unfortunately, Ryan came in at one point and sent two of them home without getting to be filmed.  They had waited all day for nothing, and were understandably destroyed about it.  It was sad.

So cut to some time later – Paul the assistant director came in and sat down by me.  I thought it might have been time for me to finally do some standing in.  I was wrong.

“So, Zach.  How would you like to learn to be a P.A.?”  (Production Assistant)

*deer in headlights* “Are you serious?”

He said yes, and told me how one of the crew had a family emergency and had to fly out the next day.  They were short staffed as it was, and the offer was on the table.  I accepted.

“Alright guys,” he said on the radio.  “Zach’s going to be our new P.A., which should be a lot more fun than reading… ‘dark blade’ or whatever it is he’s got here.”  (It was a book of poetry by Charles Bukowski that the girl I was sitting by graciously lent to me to keep my mind occupied.)  And with that, in walked Ryan and another guy named Yarden.

“Zach, this is Yarden.  He’s gonna hook you up with a radio.  Do what he says.”

Ok!  Yarden, who is from some place where they have cool accents, wired me up with a secret service style radio complete with earpiece.  “Ok Zach.  Keep this radio safe and give it back to me at the end of the week, or I will cut off your balls.”  I started laughing as he continued the bit: “why are you laughing?  This is serious.  And you know what the director looks like?  Well if you see him, turn around and walk the other way.  Don’t go within 15 feet of that guy.”  Working with Yarden is going to be fun.

Here’s what I felt like wearing my earpiece:


And here’s what I looked like wearing it:


It was extremely awkward for about an hour trying to get used to having conversations spontaneously erupt in my earpiece while still having to participate in reality around me.  There is also a protocol where someone echos the director’s commands over the radio so everyone can coordinate across the whole area.  Imagine a stream of “Rolling.  Action.  Cut.  Reset.  Rolling.  Action.  Reset.  Action.  Reset.  Action.  Cut.” along with coordination comms in between each command constantly rolling through the radio.  It is very confusing at first.  Because of this I missed the first couple radio comms that were directed at me.

My first task was to keep the dining room and bar on “lockdown”, meaning just make sure everyone was quiet and no one stumbled their way into the set or into the camera’s view.  Never mind the fact that I didn’t even know what “lockdown” meant until Mollie poked her head in the door and said, “hey stand-in/P.A., did you hear ‘get dining room locked down’?  That’s you.”

“Oh… sorry…”  HURF DURF.  A few minutes later she also demonstrated how to scold someone for being too noisy, such as a bartender doing their job by washing and stacking glasses, which incidentally creates noise that carries across 2 rooms and a hallway straight into the microphones on set.  I tried my best to be as apologetic as possible to the other bartender and busboy who I had to get onto about that.  I’m a lover, not a fighter!

I started to get the ropes and eventually the staff got the picture that today was not a normal day and performed their tasks with the silence of ninjas.  In return, they got to peek through the door at the set in the lobby of the lodge building we were in, where they were filming Rosamund entering the room 28 times.  At that point I got to watch as well and see Fincher at work.  Sometimes he would see something wrong and cut early, give directions, reset, and call action again.  Other times he would study the video just taken by the cameras and pick out details to improve upon.  He seems to be very meticulous with his work, which probably explains why he is one of the best.  Needless to say it was an awesome sight, and I could hardly believe it was really happening.

In the dining room, state park visitors were greeted with the treat of getting to sit down for lunch and watch a movie being produced out the window.  It was pretty cool.  There was a couple there, Alan and Elizabeth, who came to the park for lunch but decided to stay all day to watch the production.  They were super cool and had an awesome attitude; grateful that they had stumbled upon such a thing and totally happy to cooperate with the production staff when we needed them to.

They finished the indoor shot and moved to take the outdoor shot of the same scene, Rosamund driving up and entering the building.  Another reason why it takes 20+ takes is because with extras they are trying to time it just right so that this person walks by right as that person enters the camera view, then they pass the actress right at the moment she walks inside, etc etc.  It’s quite the challenge to make it all flow and appear natural.  For this shot my job was to lock down the lobby they were previously filming in.  It was kind of a break since there were no tourists in there, just crew tearing stuff down.

After the first action, I realized Rosamund ends up inside the building with just me standing there acting like I know what’s going on.  The door shut behind her and I heard reset over the radio.  It took me a moment to think, “hey, maybe I’m supposed to inform the leading actress in this movie about this.”  And of course by the time I opened my mouth Mollie stuck her head around the corner and called “reset!”  The next time around I got it right and called reset when it came over the radio.  Rosamund turned around, smiled at me, and walked out.  It was a memorable moment.

At one point someone on the radio said “whoever’s locking down the lobby, can you look for David’s cell phone?  He left it in there somewhere.  It’s an iPhone.”  Haha, what?

“Looking,” I said into my mic.  I spotted it immediately, just sitting on a table.  I was almost afraid to touch it for a moment… “found it,” I said.  I grabbed it and walked toward the door to the hallway Mollie was in, and she popped her head in at the same time.  I gave it to her and she gave me an attaboy.  (Not condescendingly at all… she was so super sweet to me all day helping to get me on my feet.)

Dusk was setting in after about a dozen takes of that scene and it was time to move on to the final one of the day.  Ryan sent me down the hill where they were setting up to film Rosamund walk in to her cabin.  Here I finally got to see a stand-in in action since Rosamund was getting her hair and makeup adjusted.  By that time the stand-in had it down and just took a couple directions from Fincher; then he could concentrate on getting the cameras to land where he wanted as they followed her.

It was about this time when I couldn’t contain my excitement about this whole thing.  Along with some other folks, I was inching up to about 10 feet behind Fincher to watch from the same monitors he was watching and listen to him give directions.

“Zach.  Zach!”  I heard someone whispering harshly.  I turned around to see Yarden motioning for me to follow him around an adjacent building.  “What did I tell you about going near the director?  Don’t make me cut off your balls.”  Whoops.  Yarden then tasked me with watching the parking lot and making sure no cars approached and interfered with the shot.  That lasted about 10 minutes until Ryan and Mollie called me to go up to the other parking lot, the one the tourists were parked in, and help Yarden lock it down.  I had to prevent anyone from leaving for the duration of our shoot at the cabin.  Oh boy…

It turned out to be not as bad as I thought.  I stopped six or seven cars, and all but one were cool with it.  Alan and Elizabeth were in the mix too and asked if they could go down to the cabin and check out the set.  I said, “you can try.  They’ll probably intercept you once you get down there, and since I’m working for them I can’t really condone it…” but they went down and didn’t come back for a while, so I assume they got a decent view of the action.  I hope they did, anyway.

The one that wasn’t cool with it was a couple that was rightfully upset at Paramount for ruining their day.  The main hiking trail in the park was shut down, then I got on to them for being too noisy at the water tower (next to the cabin), and finally I couldn’t let them leave.  I made friends with them before it was all over though, and helped squeeze them out before shooting was done.  By that time Yarden was allowing people to leave as long as they took a right out of the parking lot instead of a left toward the set.  Around 8:30 they wrapped up shooting and I was sent on my way to the dining hall for dinner.

Since I’m the newbie and didn’t really have to do any tear down work, I was the first one there.  And lo and behold, there sat Lola Kirke eating a plate of food by herself.  “Hi, I’m Lola!  Who are you?”  Uhwhaaa… nothing… no one… just go away!

“I’m Zach.”

“What do you do here?”

“Well I was hired as a stand-in for Jeff, but they upgraded (?) me to a P.A. today.  You’re playing Greta, right?”

“Yea!  …Is everyone coming in for dinner?”


“Oh, now I feel bad for making them sneak me pieces of chicken and stuff from the kitchen.”

We chatted for another minute.  She took me by surprise there, but turned out to be very nice.  I told her it was nice meeting her and she said the same, then dismissed myself from the room before barfing up some kind of nonsense and looking like an idiot.

There’s not much else to this tale today.  Tomorrow I head out to the van that leaves at 6:48am.  That reminds me… it’s really late.  2600 words, are you serious…?


  • I’m standing in for Boyd Holbrook, not NPH
  • my ride to the set didn’t exist so I drove myself and got there 3 minutes late – STRESS
  • got upgraded to Production Assistant
  • relayed directions to Rosamund Pike
  • located David Fincher’s missing iPhone
  • the safety of my balls was threatened twice
  • Lola Kirke is like when the prettiest girl at the dance talks to you and you’re completely unprepared
Posted in Gone Girl | 2 Comments

How things got started pt. 2

After my “interview” Friday the 6th, several days went by with no word from the casting company.  If I was chosen I expected a call within a couple days since they were starting shooting the next week.  I had all but given up on the prospect until the following Thursday.

After a session in the computer lab assisting CS155 students I noticed I had a voice mail from the familiar number of Jamie from casting.  I dialed in and listened with excitement as she said I was wanted for a 2nd interview the next day at 10am.  I called her back and said I’d love to come.

I have a class at 10am, but it’s a laid back senior class I knew I could miss to go to round 2 of stand-in size-ups.  The interview was at their home base in a building in the middle of town.  I got there around 9:35, already taking to the idea that “in Hollywood, if you’re on time, you’re late.”  I walked in to the lobby and there was no one there…

I mean, there were people there, just not any that I recognized from before.  Not even any of the other stand-ins.  The place was very busy with crew members loading equipment into the building; lights, water, boxes and rubbermaid tubs of who knows what.  I started to get nervous so I called Jamie and left her a voice mail asking if I was in the right place.  Right after that, a girl I hadn’t seen before walked in with a similar lost look on her face.

“Are you here for the stand-in interview?” I asked.


“Good, that makes it much more likely that I’m in the right place.”

A second girl, Sidney, who wasn’t at the first round of interviews came in right at 10.  We waited a few minutes until a guy named Ryan, whose job I don’t know but I’m guessing is Production Assistant, came in and told us he was there to handle us.  He did the paperwork and picture thing with the girls, then told us to hang out til Paul could come in.  Ryan kept getting phone calls and radio calls and frequently stepped outside to do business with other crew members.  The place was pretty chaotic.  Meanwhile, the three of us were still just sitting in the lobby with nothing to do but wait.

Around 10:30, Ryan walked back in and said to me, “hey man, I’m sorry… but do you think you can come back at 4 o’clock?”  Oh god.  Well, I already skipped class, might as well leave work early too.

“Sure, I’ll make it happen.  Same place?”


“I’ll be here.”

I left MedAssets at 3:30 and drove back to the base of operations.  Sidney from that morning was there–she had been sent on her way to come back at 4 just like I was.  In the lobby there was even more hustle and bustle going on.  They were apparently filming a scene with child extras riding bikes, and at that moment all the children were gathering to get into a van to be shuttled to the set.  They were running around everywhere while their parents filled out paperwork and handled their legal documents with one of the girls from the casting company.  The children finally left, and a girl named Jen from the first stand-in interview came in to wait with us.

4:15 rolled around, then 4:20, and we had no word from any of the few people still coming and going as to whether our interview was going to happen or not.  At 4:30 Jen texted Jamie to ask what the deal was.  Jamie called back a short while later and apologized for our wait; shooting was taking longer than expected and Paul was going to come back to see us asap.

The room was silent again as we began another block of waiting.  The girls chatted here and there while I mostly meditated on what this would mean if I actually got picked.  At one point Rosamund Pike, the lead actress, walked in with a couple handlers and went to the fitting room.  I didn’t recognize her, but the girls did and we all got pretty excited.  Finally around 4:50, one of the casting girls came in and told us that Paul couldn’t get away from the set, so they were going to shuttle us out there to see him…

We climbed into an unmarked white van and drove out to a neighborhood off of one of the popular cycling routes outside of town.  It’s one of those places where the local doctors go to build their castles–a pretty good place for a movie set I guess.  They had a lounge area set up in someone’s garage at the end of a cul-de-sac.  There was a table of fruit and other snacks, and coolers of water.  I grabbed a banana and a drink and sat down with the girls at a table with a couple police officers.

The officers were real policemen, but they had also been hired to play cops as extras in a montage scene that was filmed before we got there.  At that point they were just hanging out waiting for shooting to end so they could leave.  They told us how it went down – they did ~40 takes of the same 5 second shot.  One of them talked with David Fincher for 10 minutes without even knowing who he was.  I was trying to contain my awe.  Nothing was official yet and each passing minute would leave a more devastating mark if I wasn’t chosen now.

Jen and Sidney were both in the running to stand in for the Greta character… I don’t know the actress playing her in the film yet.  They were both characters in their own right; Jen, the early 20’s girl working at the casino and studying psychology, and Sidney the medical professional with the 6 year old who was about to be disappointed at having to miss going to the fair that night.  They got along well.

The whole time we were there, Paul was in the corner of the garage engrossed in some work on his laptop.  He finally came over and apologized again for taking so much of our time.  (I didn’t care; I was enjoying myself.)  He went on to say something to Jen and Sidney but I don’t remember it at all, cause he turned to me and said “the D.P. likes you and I’m pretty sure you’re in since you look just like him.”  My mind raced in 10 different directions as he left the garage to go up the hill to the set.  At that point I had every right to celebrate but I held back until I had a “for sure” from somebody.

It was going on 6:00 when a couple vans pulled up and unloaded a bunch of extras.  People dressed in “MISSING – AMY DUNNE” t-shirts with Rosamund’s face on it.  They were covered in burs and had just come from shooting in an unmowed field up over the hill.  We talked with a few of them about what it was like, and then waited some more… more waiting, always waiting…

Ryan eventually ran down the hill (he ran up and down that hill around a dozen times while we were there, poor guy) and told us to come up to talk to Paul again.  We went up there and he asked Ryan to give us a crash course on the stand-in job.  Paul walked away for a minute and Ryan got through maybe one sentence before he came back and said “ok, so you know what stand-ins do now?”  We all laughed.  Then out of nowhere he looked at me and goes, “you’re good to go.”  …Yeeeaaaaa!!!!

“We still don’t know about you girls; we’ll have to call you either tonight or tomorrow with our decision.  Now, are all three of you available to drive to Carbondale Sunday night and work Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, have Friday off, then work Saturday?”  Hum.  That is a crapload of school to skip… but I nodded, cause really, what would anyone have done at that point?  I’m GOOD TO GO here people!  The girls said yes as well, and with that, we were sent back down with the blessing to leave.

Of course, as soon as we got back to the green room area they blocked the street cause it was sunset and time to film the kids riding their bikes in the street… Ryan told us to just get in a van and tell the driver to pull out as soon as the road opened back up.  So we hung out in the van til 7:45 or so.  We heard snippets of what was going on on the set intermittently through the driver’s radio.  Apparently there was a group of cars trying to get into the subdivision to go to a birthday party.  Haha, suckers.  Finally, we heard those magic words, “THAT’S A WRAP.”  Crew members spilled down the hill, and Mollie the A.D. piled into our van along with a two kid extras’ grandmas and two camera guys.  She gave the driver the signal to get us the hell out of there, and off we went.

So here I am now, in Carbondale, having nearly finished the last of my homework that’s due this week… one more assignment to hopefully finish after breakfast tomorrow.  My professors seem to be cool with me missing class since I’ve notified them of the extraordinary circumstances and am able to do all my classwork remotely.  Well, except my physics lab Tuesday.  That one I will sacrifice to the homework gods in exchange for this experience.

At 8:30am I’m to report to the van fleet to be taken to the set.  For real.  As a person who is actually supposed to be there.  But now I must sleep.

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How things got started pt.1

A few weeks ago they advertised a public audition for Extra roles in Gone Girl.  It was at the Rose Theater on Southeast Missouri State University’s campus.  It ran all day Saturday and attracted around 1400 people.

Erika and her co-worker Whitney were quite excited at the possibility of being cast as an extra in the film.  They made plans to audition and of course I went along with them.  I couldn’t imagine how a mass public “audition” could work, and it indeed was as simple as I guessed.  We stood in line for about an hour until we finally made our way backstage to an area where we gave the casting company staff our info sheet and they took our pictures with an iPhone.  Not much to it.

A week or two went by and we started hearing about people getting called.  Unfortunately none of the three of us were called about a role.  Oh well.  The opportunity just to participate in the audition was a neat experience.

Thursday, September 5th, I got a call from a number I didn’t recognize.  I let it go to voice mail as usual.  I was at work anyway.  A bit later I listened to the message and, though barely able to hear the message through the garbled static of the caller’s bad signal, could tell it was from a girl from the casting company and that she wanted me to come in for an interview the next day.  She left her phone number, of which I could make out 6 digits.  I correctly guessed the 7th digit the second time I tried to call, and thankfully had a clearer connection to facilitate an understandable conversation.  The interview was at 1:00 the next day at the Drury Lodge.  I didn’t have to wear anything special, just show up.

I work part time as a programmer for MedAssets, an awesome company with a sizable branch in Cape.  My hours aren’t strict at all so my boss was totally cool with me skipping work the next day for the interview.  So Friday the 6th I left school to go directly to the lodge and see what this was all about.

When I arrived I was directed to a meeting room where there were about 12 other clueless people and two Gone Girl staff.  We did some paperwork filling out our measurements and such and had two more pictures taken of us.  Finally one of the assistant directors came in and introduced herself.

Her name is Mollie, and she is actually a Mizzou grad.  She is very outgoing and extremely nice and entertained us with stories from working in Hollywood while we waited for Paul, her boss, also an assistant director to come in and check us out.  She also described what job we were actually there to interview for – a position as a stand-in.  Stand-ins, she said, are picked solely by their looks.  She made it clear that if we weren’t picked it had nothing to do with us and that we were all great people.  We just didn’t have quite the right build or complexion or height or eye color that the director is looking for.  A stand-in has to have all these bodily qualities so that they can stand in on the set where the actors would be while the cameras are aligned, shots are planned, and lighting is configured.  That way everything would be fine when the time came to roll camera and the actors came on set to take our places and do their performances.

At this point I was getting excited – at the beginning of the day I still thought it was for an Extra role, but this was something much bigger.  This meant working every day that your actor was working on the set for 13+ hours.  It meant standing in front of David Fincher and reciting lines from the script while they blocked out the set configuration.  It was huge.

Now that everyone was on the edge of their seat, Paul came in.  He told us a little about what he’s done in Hollywood including working on all three Hangover movies.  He told us that Fincher likes to have his stand-ins read the script while they are working.  He then had us all stand up and group with the other contenders for our positions.

When my picture was taken, I was given a whiteboard with my name and “Desi/Jeff” written on it.  I haven’t read Gone Girl, but Erika has.  She of course was going crazy as I was feeding her as much info as possible via text before the A.D.’s (assistant directors) came in.  She didn’t remember Jeff but she said Desi was one of the main supporting characters being played by Neil Patrick Harris… whaaaaaaat.  So as we all gathered around Paul, I stood with two other dudes in the running for Desi/Jeff.  One guy looked way more like NPH than I do, but he was two inches shorter than me.  The other guy had brown hair.  At that point I didn’t really know what my chances were, but it was at least one in three.  Paul went around the circle asking everyone their height, then had a moment with us where he kind of sized us up and looked us straight in the eye for a few seconds.  It was a strange moment…

And that was it.  That was all the “interview” consisted of.  It makes sense considering the job is based entirely on appearances.  They sent us home with the promise of another phone call if we were needed for the next round of interviews (Paul said there would be 2-3 rounds).

That’s it for this post.  I need to get a week’s worth of homework done then drive to Carbondale to get set up in my hotel room.  I’ll make another post tonight detailing my second “interview” and being in close proximity to a real Hollywood movie set!

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I’ve been accepted for the job of stand-in for Neil Patrick Harris Boyd Holbrook on the set of Gone Girl being filmed in and around Cape Girardeau.  Stand-ins are selected due to their appearance, having similar build, complexion, and eye color as the actors they are standing in for.  My job is to stand in the various positions on the set while cameras are lined up and lighting is rigged.  When everything is prepared and they are ready to film, the actors are brought in to perform their parts while the cameras roll.

I drive to Carbondale tomorrow night to stay in a hotel paid for by 20th Century Fox, then work 13+ hour days Monday – Thursday, have Friday off, then work Saturday.  I don’t know if the gig will just be for this coming week, or if Saturday they will say, “ok, here’s your schedule for next week.”  They feed as little info to me at the last possibly moment that they can.

Gone Girl is being directed by David Fincher, one of the greatest directors of our generation.  He has directed Fight Club, one of my top 3 favorite movies, as well as The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, The Social Network, Se7en, Alien 3, and many more.  I’ve been told that he likes to have his stand-ins recite the characters’ lines while they are blocking the set.

So begins an unexpected fork in my crazy adventure through this life.  My next post will tell the story of how I got involved and how this all happened.  Stay tuned…

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