Sunday, December 14, 2014

A "heroic show" participant

Paul Haggis and Oscar Isaac wasn't me.  I wasn't the "hero".  But I did get a call to Yonkers for doing a politico-type of bg role for Show Me A Hero - HBO's upcoming miniseries about the Yonkers housing desegregation case in the 1980's.  For me, it was a mid-morning call to go to the upper West-side of Broadway for a van-pickup that would take me to the set.  I got there an hour early and went for a cup of expensive coffee at a nearby specialty shop. Definitely not worth it.  I'm sticking with my favorite brand, "Icing On The Cake". Having left the coffee shop 15 minutes prior to my pickup time, I waited on the sunny corner for the van... for over an hour -all the while calling my agent to see why it's so late.  She eventually said that the van driver must have missed me but I was still I should take the subway to Grand Central and catch Metro North to Yonkers.  The van would pick me up at that station and I would be reimbursed for the train ride. Exasperation! My usual intentions to be early to set were now working against me.

But the relatively short trip was quite fast and I was picked up at the Yonkers station by a van driver whose enclosed space definitely had an aroma of what would nowadays be considered legal residue in the state of Colorado.  My wardrobe was prepared and I was put in the holding area with dozens of others... for the rest of the day.  The role of "Deputy City Manager" or "clerk" as it was later referred to, was not being used until the last shot. Nonetheless, they did allow us to wander about and so I wandered over to the set to observe the director-du-jour... wondering who it would be.  My answer came snappy quick as the clapboard in front of the camera showed the distinct name of Paul Haggis!

I sat down to an adjacent "legal table" in this court-backroom scene.  Haggis was extremely focused behind and in front of the lens.  During the takes he would sit intently and wear the sound phones over his ears while watching the scene on his monitor.  But as soon as cut was called he would pop-up and scurry to the actors to let them know in no uncertain terms what went wrong in the previous take.  During my short stint in the scene of flipping pages, he noted that I wasn't giving the impression of reading each page -so I should be taking longer to flip through them.  He was right.  I was going through the pages quickly so I could look up and be seen by the camera pointed toward me (and of course the principal at the table, Oscar Isaac).  But once the correction was made, the martini shot was over and everybody hugged and shook hands.  Paul, however, although he stood by the door, was a bit reluctant to extend his hand to us who were exiting the area... not sure why.  Perhaps a bit of OCD?  But whatever the reason for his reluctance, I could see why his micro-managing directorial style was effective in winning him Oscars:  attention to details, details...and more details!


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