I cannot really fathom as to why, when working on the feature documentary
that I completely neglected to keep notes on what dates what was done where and when.
I think I first saw the audition notice on nowcasting.com and
as one of the reviews even mentions,
I was not only an hour early but I was the first in line.
The early spring audition in 2005 mainly was each applicant/candidate sitting on a stool for the camera and regaling a few anecdotes and stories about experiences and such.
I do not recall how many people that director
interviewed, but he knew straight off the bat I was definitely one of those he wanted in his film.
Initially Jason chose thirteen people, but narrowed it down to ten on which the film primarily focuses:
Apparently Jason had done a little bit of background work himself, and on set met Jay Michaels.
The idea of a documentary about the background artists' "lifestyle" appealed to Jason and he began to put together his idea/s.
Each of us was interviewed on our own in our own respective domiciles.
I do not recall the date at which Jason and
arrived at my place
(even amusingly startling me by having the camera already running for my opening the door initially to admit the two into my domicile),
but generally I spoke for probably three or more hours.
Jason would ask questions, to which I would provide A Complete Answer, meaning, the question goes unheard: the answer has to start out worded like a Miss America answer, a la, "The reason I became an actor..." et al.
Jason had specific topics on which he wanted each of us to touch, and as I predicted when I saw the final product, the interviews were almost montages, each of us with the More Compelling Responses showing our answers.
Some of the editing was a bit... judicious.
I had brought out several of my standard Bring To Set wardrobe, including but not limited to my doctor/lab tech coat.
I was pleased I'd be showing this, so potential casting people would see me wearing it, even if briefly.
In the final cut all that is shown is my remarking of a mechanic's type shirt
(which I've yet even to need),
and my mentioning having "liberated" it from a brief job that didn't work out.
No hint I even own a lab coat, even though I've worn it in two commercials, and for a few student films.
Not surprisingly, studio films refused to allow Jason's project to film any behind-the-scenes stuff, so innovatively, Jason found small indie projects that would allow him to film on their set, in exchange for their actually booking actors from the documentary.
In this way I was booked as a Under-5 contract role for the indie film
(but it was never released or picked up for distibution),
and I did some background for a small feature that became titled
I think someone told me they actually saw that at a screening someplace, but they didn't spot me.
In the actual Strictly Background film, apart from showing me on set, and later our being thanked, et al, there is a momentary clip of my being in holding, but it isn't focused on me.
I noticed this the second or third time I saw Strictly Background.
In the moment I can be seen chatting with a very pretty newbie actress; at the time when we were close to done for the day, she and I swapped information but hers got misplaced and I never heard from her.
Terry, Cary and Marvin worked a funeral scene for the very funny
Bob Goldthwait directed indie feature
Sleeping Dogs Lie
its titled changed to
for its DVD.
I Netflixed it when I discovered its updated title.
After accuing over seventy hours of footage, the task began of editing.
I had provided Jason with some photos taken on-set, as well as titles of films on which I worked.
Jason took clips from our released-on-DVD films and set up an effect that causes the clips to go into black and white, except for the background artist so s/he is easily spotted.
The finished feature's first official screening was at the Raleigh Studios screening room on Merose, across the street from Paramount.
Each of the cast was picked up in a white Hummer'sine (in leiu of an actual limosine) and driven to the studio.
(Ironically once there we were then each respectively on our own: afterwards I literally had to walk home, unaware at the time of John Richards living within easy walking distance of me.)
Jason conveyed to us that major execs at Disney were in attendance, and they assured him Strictly Background would kill at film festivals.
They weren't wrong.
San Fernando Valley International Film Festival,
Strictly Background tied for Best Documenary, right out of the gate winning its first film festival award at its first film festival.
It would win seven Best Documentary awards, total.
I learned of John Richard's proximity when the cast was urged to attend the
Newport Beach Film Festival,
and Mark Nobel and I each made our way to his place.
Inside we met John's wonderful wife Elizabeth, and their grey parrot Dolly.
Dolly instantly took a shine to me, which both Elizabeth and John noticed, considering Dolly is very particular as to who she likes right off the bat.
I also learned John is his screen name: there's already a Jack Richards (his real name), so for working on film sets he goes by John.
Sadly, the film did not win at the Newport Beach festival, but it had a utterly full house, and everyone loved it.
We had a Q&A in the front afterwards, and we each mentioned a few Up To What We'Ve Been Since the film was shot stuff.
One couple afterwards claimed to have seen and recogized me from
Blades of Glory,
for which I thanked them, but couldn't be sure if they were being polite as complimentary as they could or what.
In Blades of Glory the best view of me has me almost off frame at the left.
The couple must be really observant.
There was an afterparty at the nearby mall's Ikea (!), and Jack and I had discovered a strong mutual interest about which we discussed between being contratulated by various people, including a super cute Canadian woman who all was bursting into tears for us about how badly treated we backgrounders are treated, etc., etc.
Foodwise, I was thrilled as they had Swedish Meatballs, on which I filled myself.
Well, it was an Ikia, after all...
Noting one of the cast members' rides decided to leave early and pretty much abandoned him there, Jack agreed to take him home.
Through much of the ride home he espoused his um... views on various subjects about which Jack and I had begun speaking.
Mutually Jack and I quickly realized we'd best wait until we had him dropped off before Jack and I could converse freely.
Even though he finally did fall asleep through the latter half of the long drive and we realized we could continue our discussion, Jack and I continued to speak in more hushed, conspiratorial tones as not merely to maintain the backseat passenger being qui er, that is, letting him sleep, but also in case he did wake up and suddenly realized he was hearing what "horribly controversial" topics Jack and I were discussing (such as ghosts and hauntings,
in general, and metaphysics).
More film festivals
Just as I was wondering about visiting back east for Memorial Day weekend for my
birthday, Jason notified me that he had submitted Strictly Background to the three New Jersey film festivals about which my mother had told me, the information of each of which I'd immediately conveyed to Jason.
We had missed the one for Montclair, which sucked as I/we could have had a massive turn out for that, but the
Hoboken Film Festival
had accepted it, screening it the first week of June.
So I made the travel arrangements to spend a week with my mother, as well as
and his family, and Mom and I planned to attend the film festival.
It turned out the Hoboken Film Festival was relatively new, and despite a moderate amount of press, it really didn't promote itself in a way that we had the biggest turn out.
But those who attended loved it (as did my mom).
Jason and I fielded a few questions, but the feature was the Very Last Film the film festival showed.
Mom had I knew where it was, as one of her films was also screening at the festival, in which she played a judge (the film was okay, but might have been better had not the majority of the "actors" spoken as though New Jerseyans all speak like badly stereotyped Brooklyners).
Jason's passion for the Strictly Background project was contagious.
He created his owm films festivals
Los Angeles United Film Festival,
Tulsa United Film Festival
[Tulsa, Oklahoma being Jason's home town],
New York United Film Festival),
each at which the film was the highlight
(none of the festivals were judged-festivals, and being a fair minded fellow, Jason would not have "let it" win if they were).
At the September 2008 New York United Film Festival,
is scheduled to be shown again on the seventh of September.
Amusingly, Jason would indicate some new angle that wasn't always quite the way it was initially conveyed.
We were "all" asked to take part on a local cable talk show,
The Gregory Mantell Show,
but on arrival learned that the host wanted to speak with three specific actors sitting in with Jason, each having their own segment.
The rest of us could watch it in the studio, but we were not an official Studio Audience; we had to keep silence throughout the half hour taping.
We were also "allowed" to come in during the show's closing credits.
Essentially we just rush the stage
(the entire episode is online here).
The feature screened and won at the Cork Film Festival in Ireland
(Louis managed to get out to that one, and was treated like quite the celebrity),
and it screened in Norway, winning again there as well, even selling out over a locally made documentary.