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Geoffrey Gould
Reports from the set/s...

Wednesday October 05, 2011
Booked; fitting
Back in July, I went to an open call at Sande Alessi Casting for the Ben Affleck directed (and starring), feature film Argo , being produced by George Clooney. Set during the 1979 hostage crisis in Tehran, background artists were notified well in advance for the period piece to grow out hair, sideburns and for older gentlemen: moustaches. Thanks to my fast-growing facial hair, by the date of the open call, my moustache was thick enough to read well enough for the photo taken at Sande's offices.
After weeks and weeks of "having to" wear my moustache, having no idea as to whether I was chosen or not, even having to wear it for a few student films, I finally got the call, that director Ben had Hand-Chosen all the background from their photos (for the photo, I'd also worn a shirt and tie, as the category for my age bracket was CIA).
Apparently another category was CIA Guest, for which I was selected. For the wardrobe fitting we went to CRC, which is so nearly next-door to Western Costume I thought perhaps Western had changed its name. Characteristically I arrived about 40 minutes early for my 2pm call, as well as due to the fact it'd been a rather rainy day.
Eventually my friend Abe arrived as well: he had had been on hand at the open casting call, as well as our having met while working together on the Ali Scher student film The Maiden and the Princess.
They were running a bit behind, and 2pm people began receiving their vouchers. Eventually I was brought back and worked with the super friendly Juan, who was so good at sizing me up, the wardrobe choices he retrieved fit me as though tailor made. I was aware I was scheduled for about seven or eight days on the shoot, and we learned there would be about eleven wardrobe changes, so Juan also worked on some good mix-and-match combinations. We were signed out at 5pm, and Abe offered to drop me at the North Hollywood Red Line station so I wouldn't have to wait for the Vineland bus. Abe indicated the possibility that now and then he also might be able to drop me off where I'd been staying since January, especially if it was a late night wrap, what with the reports of 15-16+ hour shoot days...

Monday October 11, 2011
The recorded hotline indicated we would be meeting up in the Valley, fortunately more in Burbank than farther out into what the weather report implied the next day would be akin to an anvil in Hell. At first the directions seemed vague, but I realized it was nearby the Burbank MetroLink, and thankfully (initially), my catagory's calltime was 8am, giving me time to get there early enough for breakfast and take into acount walking to the parking, which I hoped was also basecamp.

Tuesday October 12, 2011
Shoot: Day 1 — Song butchery
I got to the crew parking at 7:10am'ish, learning I easily could have stayed on the bus a couple of more stops to the location at Whiskey Bend. The shuttle drove us over and I had a nice warm eggs-an'-bacon breakfast before being checked in. I was given my outfit for the day, on set the polo shirt of which got swapped out for a slightly large (this is what happens when Juan isn't on set) Oobleck green'ish shirt, and a somewhat maroon Can Be No More 70s Than This long-tie.
Inside the long trailer for background holding called a Lunch Box, the 2nd 2nd AD Clark introduced himself to us. Those of us playing CIA/CIA guests were asked whether any would like to volunteer to sing a song within the scene. Initially we would be shown the lyrics and the tune played for us, we'd each be video taped signing in, and director Ben would choose who would sing. What ended up happening was, every male in the catagory (presumably hoping to be Upgraded), came outside. The laptop with the tune wasn't the best, and the "music" was less audible that if it were being played on headsets on someone else's head as they stood several feet away. We made a lame attempt at singing it, so we were just lined up in a row, and he recorded us via the laptop in a single pass as he silently stood there. Ben looked at the row, and chose the singers to be two guys... and me.
Despite the fact in my youth I'd learned to sing by heart the Gilbert and Sullivan patter-song The Lord Chancellors Dream from Iolanthe, this little squirrelly song called O'Dooley's First Five O'clock Tea was tougher to memorize due to not "being allowed" to find out what was its melody (literally, this link is to the page they'd printed out for us):

O'Dooley got rich on an aqueduct job
And he made a considerable pile.
His neighbors with envy regarded the scene
To see him assuming such style.
O'Dooley himself was as bad as the rest
With diamonds he dazzled the day,
But affairs reached their height when there came an invite
To O'Dooley's first five o'clock "tay".

Cho [rus]:
Sure is it one lump or two lumps?
Permit me to pass you the cream.
Sure, Missus McCarthy, the dress you have on is a dream!
The whole entertainment was governed by etiquet-"tay"
And a high-toned social event was
O'Dooley's first five o'clock "tay".

I went over the page over and over, but they never ever ever replayed the "tune" for us, or even for Randy Oglesby (a principal actor in the scene), had only received the lyrics that same morning as well.
Eventually the background were brought into the tavern for the scene; the two other singer men were at one table, I was over with other principal actor James Shanklin playing Mike, being honoured at his retirement party, whilst at the back of the room, Ben's character speaks with deeply talented Bryan Cranston's character. They were too far back for we in the front to hear what was being said, but as it is...

(Remember that I do not believe in providing storyline spoilers myself [such generally currently and/or eventually being readily available Elsewhere notwithstanding], in my report/s I only convey indications of where I can be seen.)

As to the song, Randy and we were to have done the first verse and the chorus, but it got to the point the chorus just got dropped and we only struggled clumsily through the first verse. I managed to get it about 95-95% memorized, but Randy's loss of the lyrics had him start making loud sounds to indicate He Didn't Know The Word at that moment; this loud noises overwrote my concentration and I couldn't spout out the words even for him to hear. It eventually got to the point he realized if he listened to me, he could follow along. Eventually they were able to provide a cue card for us to see better, though it only had the first half of the first verse. By the time the camera reversed, facing the stage from the back of the room, they were able to place cue card at my feet so Randy could see it. We never got it fully straight once, but came really close once or twice. Predictably, those of us selected as "singers" didn't get so much as a hiccough Thank-You Bump, but we should get some good screen time if the mangled song doesn't get exised. It should be noted that the beers in the scene were not water in a beer bottle: it was actual beer. While I do not drink beer per se, I am able to drink it, and here I just let it hit my mouth as I Acted Drinking from the bottle/s each provided. I could taste the beer as my moustache insisted on retaining a lot of it.
Lunch was great: steak with "fish and chips," so there were good if somewhat spicy fries.
People were released in sections, as the tavern had various catagories of people. Based on my observations I think Abe was released in the first group while I was still on set; I was in the second or third group to be released, signed out at 8:12pm. Being a tavern scene, there was a Working With Smoke, and a bit of a mileage bump.
The next bus was scheduled in that I was able to scoot down to San Fernando and Burbank, where the Rapid bus arrived and got me down to my connection bus albeit a 25'ish minute wait. Then with it being late, and as late MTA buses never attempt to make up their lost time (yet have no problem waiting at the curb if they're 30 seconds ahead of schedule), we made it to Pasadena with less than a minute to spare for me to catch the last bus to where I'd been staying (not the last bus of the evening: the last I'd need that night... had I missed it I'd have had a 55+ minute wait for the next one).

Thurday October 13, 2011
I started calling the calltime information recording after 7pm, but Kristan reported they'd not yet received a preliminary callsheet.
Trying back in a bit, she declared the location, and calltimes for those working... my name and catagory was not amongst those working. I called Booked Talent which clarified I was not working the next day Friday, and that for Monday through Friday of the next week was still Tentative.

Tuesday October 18, 2011
Day 2: A quick bit
I arrived at my 3pm calltime by 2:25pm. Lunch was still being served, and I was allowed to procur some food. It was a small group of us, ten in all I think, and we got our vouchers just past 3pm. We were escorted up through the labyrinthal corridors of the LA Times to wardrobe and hair, afterwards, brought to a holding room near set.
I discovered that fellow backgrounder Todd Hendrick was as into the paranormal as I, and we discussed various experiences we've had; he's also experienced unexplained phenominon at Linda Vista.
The group was brought to set, the shots for which we would only be seen as reflections (the shot would be on the principal female on the phone: behind her would be a glass in which the busy-ness of the office would be visible). I left my glasses in holding so could not rightly see to that end of the room; three other guys and I did some crosses, others were at desks.
This action was repeated several times as the camera switched out lenses, went in tighter on her, to the point our movement wasn't visible. After several takes of our crossing not being visible, we went back to holding, where we waited until after 8pm and we were wrapped for the day, being signed out at 8:48pm.
The calltime hotline for Wednesday declared those whose surname began with A through M was 8am. This calltime never changed, even when I checked it before catching my first bus to head out... meaning that I was being happily "subjected" to what's called a Forced Turnaround; a calltime within twelve hours or release.

Wednesday, Thursday and Friday October 19-21, 2011
Day 3, 4 and 5: good days and good people
With these three dates running so late and having such early calltimes, some of the events have somewhat melded together.
Wednesday I arrived early for my 8am calltime, and we wrapped at 9pm.
Thursday calltime was 7:30am (I was there at 7, and was surprised I was not first; breakfast wasn't ready until shortly after 7:30), and we wrapped at 9:48pm. With the previous night's 9pm wrap and this date's 7:30am calltime left no wriggle room regarding a Forced Turnarpund.
Friday I arrived early for my 8:45am calltime (e.g., another Forced Turnaround), and we wrapped at 10:24pm.
It is clear nearly everyone got some Special Screentime, and while I never got an upgrade, 1st AD David Webb liked my look enough he made sure I got some good coverage. At one point when he was nearly out of earshot, I could hear him discussing (with the Director of Photography Rodrigo Prieto) how much David liked my look, outfit, moustache, et al.
Later David brought me from the back (where I would be foreground to a lengthy steadi-cam shot of Ben entering the room from beyond me), to the front desk, where he suddenly turned and asked if I [was willing to] smoke. Knowing I lost a good close up working on Frost/Nixon due to my loathing cigarettes, this time I replied in the affirmative. I never touched it to my lips, but I held the alight "herbal" and "non-addictive" thing in my hand as I gazed at a computer monitor.
From then on I allowed such smoke to be around me, with me, etc., as Andrew indicated only thus could a Smoke Bump apply, so I kept smoke irritatingly close.
I got to be present as co-star Bryan Cranston did some fine acting.
Over the course of the days I met, chatted with and befriended Todd Hedrick, Ian Ray, Jerald Garner of Unseen Forces Productions, actor and writer JD Glasscock, and John and I spoke with Karl Steudel of his own New England Actors Network. Karl explained to us how, when he works on a non-SAG (e.g., non yet signatory) project, he has a contract done up for the production company (people) to sign, so if the project becomes successful (i.e., profitable), they won't do a Randy Quaid on him.
On one of the days at lunch, John and I had lunch with Rocky Sickmann, who initially greeted me heartily "as" Jerry Plotkin. At first I thought he might be referring to a character I'd once played on a TV show that went nowehere, but it turned out Rocky was one of the original Iran hostages! It turned out that his fellow prisoner Jerry Plotkin looked very similar to me. The friendly and gregarious Rocky told John and me a bit about his experiences, but mostly how his son had broken his hand the night before, but still came to be part of the production. Later (after background had been stepped out; back to holding), Rocky was honoured by Ben and the crew... I only noticed this as I was coming back from craft services, hearing applause at first having me think someone was wrapped. Rocky gave John and me his card, and he happily accepted mine.
On Friday our group was joined by Gary-7 who'd also worked with Abe and me on The Maiden and the Princess.
On Friday at lunch I learned that the next day I had a morning callback for an Old Navy commecial for which I'd auditioned. I thought I hadn't gotten it as initially it the callback date had been scheduled for Thursday, the day before.
As we were wrapping Friday it was clear we were not done with the CIA bullpen (aka, CIA Pit), and we were being recalled for Monday.

Sunday October 23, 2011
An early day to start the week
In the mid-afternoon I checked the recorded hotline to see at what time tonight to call, but the information for tomorrow is already thereon. Instead of the previous surnames A-M this time and surnames N-Z that time, our names were listed out, mine amongst those set for 6:30am. I did happen to hear most of my guys' names listed: in the 6:30am group with me were Todd Hendrick and JD Glasscock, and for the 7am crowd I heard John Tobin, Abe Roglund, Karl Steudel (I did not catch whether Jerald Garner was recalled).
Calling back at bedtime to make sure there had been no calltime changes, I was still set for 6:30am.

Monday October 24, 2011
Day 6: Typing with blurry fingers
My 6:30am calltime held true; with some tight-squeezed public transit, I made it there by 6:20am, and got breakfast and signed in.
Based on the direction of the camera, a small portion of us weren't needed right away. I was brought to set around 12:30 until the hour lunch was called at 1pm. After lunch I was brought to set where I was back up front again.
After that was filmed, a few hours went by and at the tail end of the day, I was brought back to do an insert shot of my back-o'-the-room desk's ash tray as I type; as I was able to see the camera's monitor, my fingers just breach the bottom of the screen, unfocused as the shot is set for the cigarettes.
While I was waiting for that insert shot, the majority of the background was wrapped. When it seemed we might wrap in the early afternoon, Abe offered me a lift to my Sherman Oaks rental box, but as we went into late afternoon overtime, it was obvious on my own from there it would take me hours to get home.
Meanwhile, while waiting for that last shot, a conversation had begun with the Very Awake Jesse Woodrow, regarding various clear and present government oppressions, including but not limited to the mis-applied income tax. Jesse was aware of the comprehensive book Shattering the Myths: the Truth About Income Tax by Dave Champion, but had not yet obtained it, but he was quite aware of America: Freedom to Fascism, the awesome Aaron Russo feature documentary, which Jesse began showing the first twenty minutes or so from YouTube before I got called to set for the last time.
Once wrapped, I went back up to change out of my wardrobe and sign-out. With my phone finally re-acquiring a signal, I heard (a message) from Milton from Jeff Olan Casting, notifying me that the film Decoding Annie Parker had a date change, to November 9th, and I was being asked after my availability. I had been somewhat booked on the project but its then-date conflicted with Argo; I was told then its shoot date was most likely changing anyway, so I was "released" from the gig. With its new shoot date long after Argo had wrapped with me, I could "return" to work on Decoding Annie Parker

Click on thumbnail for Full Image
Geoffrey Gould working on the feature film ''Argo''
Geoffrey Gould
 feature film ''Argo''
John Tobin
 feature film ''Argo''
Geoffrey Gould
 feature film ''Argo''
John Tobin
 feature film ''Argo''
Geoffrey Gould
 feature film ''Argo''
Geoffrey Gould
 feature film ''Argo''
John Tobin
 feature film ''Argo''
Geoffrey Gould
 feature film ''Argo''
John Tobin (who played Nixon in
Transformers: Dark of the Moon)
 feature film ''Argo''
Todd Hendrick

Friday May 18, 2012
Progress and trailer
Seeing Battleship early afternoon in Burbank (after a late morning matinee of Dark Shadows), one of the coming attraction trailers was for Argo. The fast-cut trailer showed bits of the scene/s on which I worked, but on the big screen to fast to spot. I knew once I got home I could find it online and clarify that in the current trailer I am not visible. At the end of the trailer it gave the film's website. I did notice also that the release had shifted from 14 September to 12 October 2012.

Argo trailer

Friday September 07, 2012
The recent edition of The Hollywood Reporter was in my rental box, with a somewhat detailed article on the feature.
I also realized with my Facebook group I could create Events; reminders of film release and TV episode air dates, so I added Argo and Atlas Shrugged II, both of which are scheduled for the same-day October 12 release (somewhat suspiciously, the release date for Atlas Shrugged II is not listed on the October 12 IMDB page...).

Argo release date

Friday October 12, 2012
Before seeing the 1:20pm screening of Atlas Shrugged: Part 2 - The Strike, I saw the same-day release 10:20am showing of the brilliant Argo, a clear Oscar contender.
As Ben enters the CIA and passes the greeting front-desk security, the shot of my hands typing, followed by a clear shot of my profile at the typewriter as Ben passes my desk is the only time I was able to spot myself. Not overly surprising, the singing tavern scene was omitted (predictably that is why DVDs have Deleted Scene Bonus Features). I also want to check the eventual DVD (and/or Blu-Ray), to see if I can spot anyone else; the film was so well written and engrossing it is likely I simply did not spot them.
I had previously learned my friend Bill Blair was a Day Player for Argo, and he got a very good clear shot of him as the table-read actor in the grey robot suit.
I would be very surprised if this feature does not garner any awards.



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