Monday, December 15, 2014

Honey Flood, the movie!

She enters... I sneer

Back to the Long Island monastery... St. Josephat's in Glen Cove. The last time I was here was for a TV series Zero Hour (as a monk) -this time I've been cast as an upper-class Englishman attending a party in 1962.  It's an independent movie based on the Elaine Dundy book entitled "The Old Man And Me" wherein a young woman goes after an elderly English scholar in a nefarious way.  Elements of "Gone Girl" permeated the plot.

The monastery is not easy to find and many of the other extras missed the indistinct entrance.  My previous experience allowed me an early presence in holding and consequently an abundant supply of breakfast. On the first day, holding was near the front door, and given the time of the autumnal chilly season on the north-shore of Long Island, we small band of extras eventually succumbed to shivering.  But our conversations flowed and the atmosphere warmed as the half-dozen or so people began to exchange stories.

One of the women in holding identified herself as Russian with the name of Anastasia.  Of course we immediately jumped on her case to see if she was related to the "missing relative of the Czar Nicholas". Russians have such serious faces! It was easy to see that this didn't go over very well, so I changed the topic.

"Has anyone read the book "Proof Of Heaven"?

At first people were reluctant but once the Russian gal began to speak up, others also joined in.  One woman related a personal experience about being severely burned when she was younger and experiencing the ethereal "out of body" experience while the doctors were working on her wounds.  As she spoke, tears came to her eyes and the young Russian girl rushed over to comfort her.  It was a very moving moment.  I realize more now that sharing stories creates a bond and it's one of the ways that we extras can coalesce. How apropos to experience this inside a monastery.
Doing my Kevin Spacey imitation
The set was ready for us and we were taken to a large drawing room decorated with late-1950 period accoutrements. The women were given the type of gowns that I remember my mother used to wear; the men had no problems with standard tuxedos -albeit with long skinny black ties.  I was paired with a woman at a stand-up cocktail table.  My partner got the long cigarette holder and I got a cigarette.  She was totally clueless with how to hold the prop and consequently bumped into people with it.  Most of our direction dealt with walking across the room to partake of some "never-to-be-eaten" finger foods!  But the atmosphere that was created by the crew and the wardrobe department was exceptionally transformational.  I felt and acted like an upper-crusty Englishman at a gala -complete with affectations that make your mouth stretch in unrecognizable directions.  And those English guys think they can do American accents...HAH!

The girl playing Honey Flood was a young striking model, Allegra Carpenter.  Her previous role in ARGO must have caught someone's casting eye and here she was.  A short conversation with her revealed that she grew up in Bali and was very vague about explaining the Balinese belief system.  But who cared... looking into her eyes were mystical enough.
The role of Honey's husband, CD, was played by Julian Sands, with whom I had the privilege to coordinate a fall during his "death scene".  A seasoned actor, he knew exactly what the camera wanted and our repeat takes were minimal.

On the subsequent days back at holding, I began playing chess with some of my fellow extras.  After I remained undefeated, the woman with the burn-story wanted to play with one of the weaker braggadocio-type guys.  The match was underway and although she was holding up quite well, some of the crew came over to kibitz. This put everything on an unfavorable slant for my female chess enthusiast.  She started to lose and although I offered to help her out -she refused.  I respected her for that.  As the inevitable outcome of the game came to a close, her opponent realized the injustice of his winning and stood up to congratulate her with sincere kudos -which was accentuated by the standing-O of the crew members.  Yet another human moment at the monastery.

Night had fallen and we did an outdoor scene.  Smoking (a la herbal cigarettes) was encouraged as we perused the long balcony of the castle-like building.  Again I felt "transported" to a London estate. The priest at the monastery had told us about the history of this area.  Rich parties had taken place here in the era of what was described as the "Gatsby days".  The priest was old but very knowledgeable -although he did walk obliviously through a live set once while we were filming.  Who's to say there weren't priests at English galas?

After three days of a lot of get-to-know-each-other conversations, I became good friends with the stand-in for Julian's role.  His name was Paul and we had long talks about life values.  He was happy to have it all and was ecstatic about his present situation.  He was successfully retired from his profession, had a good family life, was able to travel  -and being an extra in a movie was the cherry on his cake.  In fact he was so loquacious about it that he didn't want to leave.  So when they called it a "wrap" for his role, he kept on talking to us until the crew called him back for another couple of hours of work!?  Oooops... sometimes you just gotta call it quits!

Our last scene was in a smoky jazz lounge area complete with a jazz band -the members of which had just met for the first time.  But their performance was good and Honey Flood did her "strut your stuff" around the room as she casually brushed against each of us.

Another girl  (Natalie Knepp) flirted with the trumpeter (who had no idea how to hold the trumpet) and played a sexy smoking "snooker-table-sitter".  She was very personable and easy to relate to.

Honey may have been up front but I was looking at Natalie in the back

And as the dark and sinfully smoky scene worked well, our director, Aaron Krimsky, wrapped the shoot. Some of the glass menagerie was actually sold to us by the crew.  Paul bought an entire liquor set.  Guess they didn't want to take a chance on breaking any of the props!

As it turned out, this shoot was for a Sundance-type of submission where if it gets noticed, it may also get funding to do the full feature version.  Hopefully with the same cast... including us extras!


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