Thursday, February 12, 2009

On the set of "OLTL"

OLTL = One Life To Live.

Unfortunately, it's one of the Daytime Soap that I'm not familiar with. (I used to watch GH. Well, I grew up in California... So go Figure.)

So I worked on the set of OLTL yetserday as a background artist. (An EXTRA) - When I got my call time, I was thrilled.

My call time was 1:00pm. That means I didn't have to get up 6 in the morning to get ready. I had plently of time to mail a package to my parents, drop off donations at Salvation Army, and get something to eat.

ANYWAY - back to the main story line here.

I went to the beautiful ABC Studio 17 - on the 66th Street. Its a building with stone walls... Looks like a Castle. As suggested by the casting hotline, I checked in with the front desk 10 minutes before 1pm... Was directed to the basement... Then there was this very nice Production Assistant David, sitting at the general resting area.

Wayne: "Hi. I'm a background for today's scene. Sorry, this is my first time at the Studio, so I don't know where to go."

David showed me where the wardrobe department, restroom, and waiting room are.
(Basically, the waiting room is the lobby of the floor, with soda machine, microwave, sink, and a TV)

I went into the wardrobe department and told the staff that I was to be the "Hospital Orderly" - she then took a picture of me in the hallway... Which was later made into my employee ID:

I tried on the scrub she gave me... Made some adjustment, then that was it. I walked back into the Lobby and was told they are taken their lunch break.

Now, if I was on a FILM or a TV Series set, I would be looking for the craft table... Or sniff really hard to see if I can detect any catering service in the area.

But smell nothing. I heard nothing. I saw back down, and observed the area... Pretty soon, this young guy came out from the dressing room wearing only a T-shirt and a pair of boxers. He sait down on the other side of the sofa... Looked as if he was thinking something. Then he jumped up back.

He asked David: "Do you have any takeout menu?"

Then I saw the wardrobe and makeup people came out wearing their coats... "Where do you girls want to eat?"

David looked into his drawer, and pulled out a stack of menus.

Another pretty looking girl came out of no where, tapped the young guy's shoulder, "Scott, want me get you something?"

Scott: "What are you gonna get?"

Girl: "Veggie Wrap. They have sandwitches too."

I gasped in my head.

There are no Craft Table. No Catering Truck. Its a "walk-away lunch." But instead of getting some $$$ for the lunch... It's coming out of our own pocket. To the employee at ABC, this is like a day job. They take lunch break like every other employees.

That's something new... I didn't expect that. Thank goodness I didn't ask David where the craft services is located. (In case you are wondering and didn't read my previous blog entry... Yes. This was my first time working as a background on Daytime Soap.)

David told me that I should go take lunch break as well - But being overly prepared, I already got enough food in my backpack...

Wayne: "Thank you David, but I'll just wait here... I brought food."

I sat on the sofa...

It was so quiet...

So I started to read my 'research paper' (for my next film project, my character is a member of a religious cult... So I printed out some articles about cult, and their life style).

About 1:45pm, a gentleman came down the stair and sat down on the sofa. He took out a magazine from his bag. He smiled at me, I smiled back.

Around 2:00pm, I heard the announcement "Thank you everyone. We're back."

People hurried down the stairs back some went back up...

Soon, the TV in the lobby area started to play something... The TV was showing the filming progress... The young guy who I saw earlier was in this scene, along with a pretty blond-hair actress. The actors (Scott and Crystal) were going through their blocking and lines. I heard a lot of sounds coming from the TV speaker... The Director was commenting on something... The light guy, the mic-guy, the assistant director... The blocking was a chaos... The camera would flip and change angles back and forth, zoom in and zoom out... out of focus, in focus... Out of frame, in the frame... (well, I've heard that they use 3 cameras to film Soap) The whole process took about 20 minutes... Then it was the real thing. Only this time, the camera would capture the perfect angle... Right on the spot. Whenever Stacy (played by Crystal) turned her body, the camera would focus on Skyer. After they are done with scene, the chaos came back... And the entire process would repeat itself for different blocking...

Wayne: "Wow... So Busy..."

The gentleman on the sofa said: "He's the new guy."

Wayne: "Skyler?"

Gentleman: "Whatever his name is."

Then I went to introduce myself...

"Steven" he said.

Wayne: "This is my first time on a Soap set."

Steven then told me that he has done so many of these stuff... (I guess he's a full time actor)

Wayne: "Today, I'm the Hospital Orderly."

Steven: "They had more people last time. 5 Nurses. I'm the Doctor, by the way."

It turned out, there were only two of us doing background. The Doctor and the Orderly.

Wayne: "Any idea when they will use us?"

Steven went up to David's desk, and checked on his production schedule.

"In about an Hour."

I nodded and went back to the TV.

Stacy and Skyler had their little scene together. (Rox also made a brief cameo) Then it was over.

Scott came down, still wearing his boxer and T-Shirt, and greets David "I'm Done!"

He went back into the dressing room.

On the TV, I could see the Camera are moving around... Stacy was still in the scene... But this time, joined by another actress.

Stacy: "Gigi, what are you doing here?"

Gigi: "I don't need you anymore!"

Then Steven said: "She also played a b*tch on another soap."

Wayne: "She's doing two soaps at the same time?"

Steven: "No. She joined the show 2 years ago. Before this, she was on Days of our Lives."

Scott came back up wearing casual clothes... "Bye David. I'll see you tomorrow at 8!"

The scene went on for about 40 minutes... I was totally enjoying it. Watch them doing the blocking... Everything was so fast... The actors must have all the lines memorized... or something...

Around 4:10pm... The speaker announced "Doctor and Orderly on set please."

Steven grabbed his lab coat, and I followed him up the stairs. (I was tyring to play cool... letting him walk first... The truth is, I have no clue where the studio is)

We walked through a small double door... Then as if I walked into a giant Cubical office space. Each giant Cubical is a set. I see a Ktichen... Skyler's Room... A beautiful Victorian style living room... Then the Llanview Hospital Lobby. It was a very tiny set... Smaller than the usual Starbucks Coffee Shop.

Gigi was on set with a taller Actor.

He was sitting on a coach, while she was standing 6 ft. from him.

There were three huge camera on wheels... A bunch of microphones here and there... Crews running around...

The Assistant Director came to Steven and I. "Hey Steven, good to see you again. And you are....." He looked down on his clip board. "Wayne. Hi Wayne. Follow me."

He gave us brief instructions, while talking on a wire-less head-set, and writing down stuff on the clip board. (He sure can multi-task)

Then a woman came out from a booth, also wearing a blinking head-set.

"She's the director." Said Steven.

"She directed the episode where I was killed."

Wayne: "But you came back alive?"

Steven: "I was a butler for that episode."

Wayne: "When was that?"

Steven: "Last year."

(So yes. For Soap, they do recycle actors!!!

While the director was talking to the two actors... The cameras are running about the set.

Steven and I had to move and skip over electric chords and dodging the cameras...

About 10 minutes, the director went back to the booth. The A.D. came over and gave Steven direction... And me direction on when to enter the scene, and where I should exit.

The Spearker announced: "Okay. Let's start."

The set got quiet... The camera-on-wheels settled...

It was a dramatic scene between Rex and Gigi.

They exchanged a few words... (Steven walked passes the hallway) And all of the sudden, Gigi started to cry. Her hands were shaking... lips trembling... She turned her body as if she was trying to run away from Rex. Then Rex reached out and grabbed her, shook her shoulder... The intensity filled the air...

"Cut. Thank you." announced the speaker.

The Director came out again, spoke to Gigi. Then she gave Rex a different blocking.

Gigi got herself some tissues and blew her nose.

The makeup person came up and fixed her hair.

"Okay, everyone ready."

Rex sit back down on the sofa. This time, Gigi came up from behind... Leaned down and whisper something in Rex's ear. Rex jumped up... said something to her.
Then Gigi burst into tears... She held herself by the elbow... Then she started to back away from Rex. Rex, went up to her, grabbed Gigi by her shoulder and pulled her closer...

Rex: "Gigi!"

"Cut. Thank you."

This time, the A.D. went up to the Actors and gave them directiongs.

At the same time, the Camera-on-Wheels moved around.
The light guy adjusted the lights with a pole.

"Okay. everyone ready."

This time, Gigi's face was already flooded with tears... Rex hold her body up... He kisses her.

Gigi pushed Rex away... "I can't... I can't..."

Her fragile body moved away...

Rex: "I don't understand! We are Gigi and Rex! We are meant to be together!!"

"Cut. Thank you."

Gigi sat back down on the sofa, getting her hair and makeup fixed.

Rex tood at his spot, while the cameras focuses on him. He was making all these weird funny faces...

"Okay, Ready."

Gigi positioned her by the pole, while Rex was looking angry... sad... Depressed...

(then I walked in, and walked out. Steven walked in and walked out)

Gigi: "I'm sorry Rex..."

Rex remained silent.

Out of no where, Stacy came out from the Lobby Wall.

Stacy: "What Happened?" (As Steven walked by her)

Gigi: "..... What do you think?!"

Rex: "Stacy, why are you here?" (I walked passes the cabinet)

Stacy: "I've got a good news."

"Cut. Thank you."

Steven and I were released from the set. They were done with the extras.

After I returned my scrubs to the Wardrobe department, I saw "Rex" coming down from the stairs. He too, was done for the day.

In the back of my head... I envy him. I envy them. This is like a day job... They go on set, they get lunch break, then they get to go home when they are done. (The Soap contact is different than a Film contract. The actors are paid on a Salery level - like my day job. It doesn't matter how many days an Acotr is used on set, they all get their paycheck on a bi-weekly basis)

This is what I want to do.
I want to do what they do....
A day job that I will enjoy doing...


Pretty much, that was the Soap process. The production moved very vast... They probably spent 2 hours per scene. Each scene was probably 20 - 30 pages of dialogues.
the shot was very fast.

Other than how fast the shoot was in compare to a Film set... I was very impressed with the actors.

I made fun of 'soap acting' before. Many times.

"Haha. that's so Soap! So Dramatic!!"

I am so ashamed of myself.

For given such a short and a super-fast environment, constantly having people moving around you... With three giant camera surrounding you... Knocking out a scene every 20 minutes to meet the schedule. Tears, No tears. Tears, No tears. Hitting the mark. Move away from the Mark. Stop here, move there. No, start crying. Stop. You already cried. Re-do the scene over...

Whenever the cameras are rolling, the actors were 'in the moment.'

The emotions were real.

The tears were real.

I know a lot of you guys would think that the Soap Actors move funny. Well, they weren't. They were hitting their marks and position themselves in a way so all three cameras can capture them - without blocking the other actor from another camera.

The soap shoot is definitly more technical and restricted than a film set.

*Sigh* Farah Fath was amazing. (And she's only 24!!!) Not only she's beautiful in person... She's a great actress.

I don't even think I can re-charge and re-live the moment that many times while having so much distraction around me. I couldn't even squeeze-out my tears on cue!!!
It's crazy to see Farah to went from once scene, and jumped right into the next scene with different emotional state. (The actors weren't given any 'preparation' time because the tight schedule.)

Taken from a quote from the Casting Director, Mark Teschner, "If you can do Daytime. You can do Anytime."

I'm so glad that I have the chance to be on a Soap Set - and especially for having to witness a dramatic scene... It opened up my eyes and my mind.

Today, I wrote a Postcard to the BG Casting Associate who hired me for the gig, thanking her for the amazing experience.


Anonymous said...

Did Rex and Gigi break up?

A Wonderfulcow's Diary said...

You will have to wait until March to find out.
But from what I wrote, it does sound like it, isn't it? But it's actually more complicated... There are other scenes that took place afterward (and before) that I didn't include in my blog.

Anonymous said...

Thank You for the blog, those scenes sound intense.

Anonymous said...

Interesting. do you know when your scenes will air? I'll look out for you.

A Wonderfulcow's Diary said...

March :) But you probably won't see me... I speed-walked though the scene....