Thursday, May 28, 2009

Toronto Extra Features

By going to University, I had the unique experience of recession-proofing my economic status by earning a post secondary degree in fine arts (film studies to be precise). For those of you who didn't come to this conclusion by the time you reached the end of it, I should tell you that the previous sentence was intentionally riddled with sarcasm, and I have been struggling to find regular work for quite some time now, leading to several odd gigs in order to make ends meet (my degree has also afforded me the time and vocabulary necessary for writing a blog with snotty, wordy, drawn out sentences ;)

Fortunately for Universal pictures, this recent down turn in economy has given them an extremely large hiring pool for Toronto 'background performers' in 'Scott Pilgrim vs. the World.' For those of you who aren't familiar with this film, it's an adaptation of a 6 part independent Canadian comic book that mixes elements of japanimation, Archie Comics and video games set around Toronto's Indy rock scene (primarily the Annex). The film stars Michael Cera in the title role and is being directed by Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz). Many twenty-something 'scenesters' 'slackers' 'Indy' 'hipsters' 'bums' and others of the like (a segment of the population which inspired most of the comic's characters) came across one of the multiple craigslist calls for extras posted by the outsourced parties required for this large task. Since the story involves lots of crowd and party scenes (many set in actual Toronto locales, such as Lee's Palace and Sneaky Dee's) an above average amount of background people have been enlisted during this ongoing process.

For a promised six long but somewhat leisurely days of 'work' I signed up to be herded back and forth between holding areas and occasionally react to an often invisible oversized hammer. I consider myself somewhat fortunate that I was witness to the filming of a fight scene and got to see some pretty cool stunts and effects executed. Anyway, the sixth installment of the official video blog for the shoot was recently posted, where you can see the set where I spent 80 hours over the course of 6 days. You get a brief glance of yours truly among the extras at about the 1:47 mark, when the camera whips past a tall 'insider snob' in a denim jacket. My brief appearance in this video is just to tease my fans without letting them know too much about my involvement.

Blog Six - Fight! - Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World from Scott Pilgrim The Movie on Vimeo.

I was very surprised at the level of security and secrecy surrounding the production. Everyone had to sign a confidentiality agreement and an extra was even fired the second day for a twitter post referring to the film. What it contained and how it was found remained conversation fodder for the rest of the week. I guess this is all because Edgar Wright likes to keep tight control over the advanced press for this film, as shown in these video blogs he's been heavily involved in. I'm not sure how much I can say without getting in trouble, for example, I noticed there are very few images of actors in costume yet, and Mary Elizabeth Winstead wears a hat in the video, leading me to believe they want to keep Ramona's constantly changing hairstyle and colour a secret for now (since the books are in black and white, readers would never really know what colour she was rocking from issue to issue). Anyway, here are a few facts about my time spent on set which I don't think will put me in breach of my signed agreement.

1. This scene marks the reunion of Michael Cera and Mae Whitman who played his 'bland' girlfriend in 'Arrested Development.'
2. Edgar Wright is only 35 but looks 25. My theory is that this is due to the ora of stressless success he seems to exude most of the time, and the pop cult tees help too.
3. Despite the fact that I'm the only one wearing denim in the scene, it is in fact supposed to take place in Canada.
4. Michael Cera likes hummus.
5. Ms. Lippy's car is green.
6. There is a lot of downtime on set, so I read these books:

'Timequake' by Kurt Vonnegut
'Lullaby' by Chuck Palahniuk
'Brave New World' by Aldus Huxley
'V for Vendetta' by Alan Moore
'Preacher, vol. 1' by Garth Ennis

None of which I didn't see another extra reading at one point or another, which I believe attests to both the amount and ilk of all us 'individuals' in attendance. Good books too.
6. I kept thinking about this great animated music video from the 80's by a Toronto band called 'The Extras' which depicts a similar scene that Pilgrim is set in, only 20 years ago. Score another point for youtube, 'cause here it is:

Perhaps it's nostalgia, but I think this song and video both still hold up very well. One of the animators actually worked on Yellow Submarine. The making of video is also work checking out, and here's a link to The Extras' official site.

'Scott Pilgrim vs. The World' doesn't get released until the summer of next year, but look out for more Scott Pilgrim related posts on this blog (as I still can't seem to go anywhere in this city without encountering some aspect of it), assuming Universal does not find and neutralize me, but this will likely only happen in the event that I say something negative about the film... just kidding?

1 comment:

  1. i cant believe you were an extra in pilgrim! so jealous!!!