Archives for posts with tag: Martin Scorsese

wolfLast night, research led me to this magnificiently informative and entertaining behind-the-scenes interview hosted by The Hollywood Reporter December 2013 with five of the top casting directors of T.V. and films.

http://thefilmstage.com/news/watch-1-hour-roundtable-with-casting-directors-behind-the-wolf-of-wall-street-her-blue-jasmine-more/

On the quest for self-improvement, listening to an audio track of Brain Tracy’s “No Excuses: The Power of Self-Discipline”, I came across the “Ten Goal Exercise”, which the writer proudly cites practicing himself nearly every day.  DIRECTIONS: On a clean sheet of paper, with the date and “GOALS” at the top, take 3-5 minutes to write a list of ten goals you would like to achieve in the next 12 months (financial/family/fitness/furniture), and imagine all are achievable if you want it long, and hard, enough.  Then imagine you have a magic wand making any one goal attainable within 24 hours: choose which one would have the greatest positive impact on life right now, and result in all the other goals being more easily achieved.  This focus became the direction guiding me to the above link.  

Ellen Lewis has been the Casting Director to Martin Scorsese for every one of his films since Goodfellas, including most recently “The Wolf of Wall Street”- a fairly good indictor she will cast Mr. Scorsese’s next movie.  Although that next movie may take place in Japan, who knows what the one after that will be, and I could always play a tourist.  One of the stand-out moments in the above interview related to Branding.  Pairing certain actors together and comparing their dollar value with the film’s budget.  The lead actress in Wolf, Margot Robbie, donning an impressive Long Island accent, puts butts in the movie theater seats here in the U.S. and her native Australia, upping her bankability.

Credits, being seen, getting a name/brand out to be known- I am dyslexic, and the adage is backward:  It is who knows you.  If Ellen Lewis knows I exist, am consistently complimented by camera operators as having great reactions to the lead actors in a scene, then… it comes down to Networking.  Ms. Lewis is savvy and sharp in this interview.  I look forward to telling her in person within the next 12 months.

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April has proven to be the Busiest month and, Made_in_NY_logotruly, I wish I had photos from one of the most recent “amazing” adventures!!  Alas, as with most all productions “Everyone who is working on the film will sign a Non Disclosure form; This means you will not share any information about what we are filming on any social media- twitter, facebook, blogs, etc. If you do share any of this confidential information you will be sent home from set.”  How long will casting hold a grudge for making their job more difficult and causing them to look bad?  For ginormous budget movies/television one may not even have phones on-set and we are warned: should phones be seen- they will be confiscated, plus, you agreed to the confidentiality agreement.  The element of surprise is ultra-paramount.

Even when phones are permitted, they cause unnecessary distraction- preventing the smoothest production value.  The reason texting while driving is against the law: a cell phone seize your sole focus.  Thus, making you unaccountable when, say, the Assistant Director needs you to perform the action captured in every other camera angle of this scene, but because you are on your phone …. around the corner, five-ten production minutes (which might as well be five-ten hours) are wasted yelling your name.  I leave my phone tucked away and only check it when “turning around” is announced-the term for placing all the equipment and camera on the opposite side of a shot to catch the corresponding coverage.  This usually takes a good ten minutes, between cables, lights, props, “the village” (chairs, monitors, etc.), people, and all the rest-thankfully allowing ample time to take a quick peek at the e-mail for any upcoming casting opportunities requiring rapid response.

Twice this month, I again worked on “Boardwalk Empire”, putting me, so far, in all but one episode for the new season.  In #403, one scene takes place in a charming real location, and while I sit at the counter indulging, take after take, in the after-glow of consuming the best cherry pie a-la-mode I never ate, my day actually started with a different action.  My shadow can be seen walking up to the ‘Ladies’ room opaque glass door and knocking as the beautiful main character, leg raised ….

Come on now, we covered consequence and curiosity at the the beginning here- Thank you for tuning in!

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Merrily standing, while the crew (lights, props, camera) sets the airplane, determining camera positioning and movement- the supervising costumer queries where are the stewardesses’ jackets. Researching prior to fitting, every 1990s airline uniform I found had a long boxy (ugly) coat.  “They weren’t fit with one” says one costumer, shortly after which the main man buttons one up my fellow background stewardesses.  Tugging to adjust, it’s off her with an “If the shoe fits” and onto me: Like a glove!  Leading to my subsequent placement, by the 1st AD- Adam- outside the entrance of the plane, however, the added costume piece was vetoed because the two ‘featured’ stewardesses were in jackets.  The scene set, Martin Scorsese walked in, a foot away from me, big toothy smile and a nod looking right into my eyes.

The main characters’ action was behind my back, challenging the timing of my cue.  Stumbling, a commotion stirs inside the plane door, JUST after which I cross, clipboard in hand.  Intention: to hear [when will I get eyeballs in the back-of-my-head like mom] specifically when a pass through space is cleared enough, while not leaving a lag, yet allotting perfect pacing bereft of bunching the entryway with other boarders.  Following take one, Adam instructs “five beats sooner”; ensued by take two’s  “ten beats later”.  The concern became star/producer Leonardo DiCaprio was, and is earnestly respected for, relaxing into the scene, taking more time and space– succumbing to the depth of the character’s drugged state- creating a background awkwardness.  Imagine Marty during filming, watching his screen, wanting, understandably as an artist, the frame to look just so with a good pacing of background actors.

‘Respect’ is a pale word for a director of Mr. Scorsese’s caliber.  Once, he stepped in to speak to DiCaprio, I heard him quietly say “It will work better with the cut if you do it this way”.  He can see the edit in his mind’s eye as the camera is rolling.  In real life, this scene was probably a cumbersome event.  We moved on after maybe nine takes, and I’m still “the redhead” called back for a second exciting day on-set.

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Wednesday was the most invigorating 16-hour-work-day I have ever had. The call time was 6:45 A.M. in Brooklyn, obliging me to a 3:33 alarm to accommodate the hour and 24 minute westward-bound drive. Having been to this particular studio for another movie (“Gods Behaving Badly”) I knew the neighborhood was a safe Hassidic one, tight on parking.  I gave myself extra time to drive around on the hunt for the early bird on his way to work freeing a space for me, but I neglected the weather raining good luck on my adventure that morning.  Compound this with a non-functioning driver’s windshield wiper and oncoming headlights, and I ended up ten minutes late.

Finally, an available (after-the-fact apparently illegal) parking space was found (scratching my head, I had an idea ‘NO STANDING 11-4 Except School Busses’ meant ‘No Parking’, but other cars were and why 11-4?? regardless no ticket was held in by the broken wiper, so I trust I remain safe).  After walking two blocks in the sprinkling, scrumptious sunrise, and down two flights of stairs to the sub-basement holding area, the check-in man Drew said I would probably be getting a call from casting in two seconds, and to tell them he said I’m awesome! Promptly being escorted to hair, Aaron began to French braid, interrupted because approval for the stewardesses’ look had not yet been sent down.  So he put a pin in it and I moved on to make-up.

Donyell Donyale (how he pronounced it = how I’m spelling) was the make-up magician creating resplendent-at-arms-length skin.  Next, back to hair- where Barbara finished me up using 26 hair pins, gel, and hairspray to hold it all in place. Then into costume . . . . . . . . . . . and wait, for, well I don’t really know how long, maybe an hour, maybe longer, but then…. onto set . . . . where there was . . . . more waiting, standing in 2″ heels, and a big fake business and first class passenger area of a plane.  Only here: it was FREEZING!  I came to overhear Jonah Hill talking to/about Martin loving the Winter- later appreciating the cold to the alternative of sweating -> more make-up touch-ups and stinky, cranky people.

To Be Continued . . .

{ In the mean time, to see photos of the even more lovely back of this up-do, please go to

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I am working with Martin Scorsese as “Swiss Air Stewardess #1” in his current film ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’. To be a ‘Background Actor’, liberally speaking, is to be working with Marty. However, realistically, this is an opportunity, and must be taken full advantage of…. how is this done? Recently I had the fitting- the lovely Sue, of Brooklyn, measured me every which way: nape to collar, collar to shoulder, shoulder to elbow, waist, waist to knee, you get the idea. Well, what now.

Arriving very early for the fitting, after a train of one hour twenty minutes, a lovely stroll through the wondrous city of New York was embarked upon.  I walked almost the same amount of time during the 2.5 mile stretch, through ‘The Village’ from Penn Station on a misty day, whilst smiling and grinning every step.  I LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LoOvVE walking around New York City.  As a recent transplant, always feeling the magnetism elicited, being in the city is akin to organic fertilizer; sometimes I even imagine living there. However, since high school art class, and especially reinforced following the recent hurricane, I have understood the value and necessity for Freedom in creating Art, therefore I tend to shun any constancy which might cause dullness and a jaded lack of appreciation for what once enthralled and created life force.  A “have to” makes for a frowny-face.

Sue of Brooklyn said by the time the movie was wrapped over 2,500 fittings will have occurred!  Sue, the seamstress, had a lovely vitality and I wonder how many of those people will remember her name, or that she lives in Brooklyn, or knows she has been trying to remember  her daughter’s passport.  I only know these tidbits about the woman who measured me for all of maybe ten minutes because I was genuinely interested in her.  She asked me if I lived close, I responded in the middle of Long Island, and she was interested where exactly that was. A simple question became a moment shared on a journey, and when I return for a pre-fit tomorrow- full costume prior to filming- my memory will serve me well.

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I have been exposed to a new term- “Background Whore”.  On-set consorting with fellow extras one man told me how he worked four, sometimes five, days a week using this term, though now his focus is honing his basketball skills so he can take advantage of the next commercial opportunity to be one of the tall players chosen.  A commercial pays more than double what one day as a television or movie background actor garners, plus possible residuals.  This young man revealed he had been working this way, ‘whoring’, for a year and a half.

Another actress posed the question of whether this (working as an extra) was my ultimate aim.  She did not mean to offend, however I was aghast, later realizing- it was a good question I needed to hear. Knowing the answer and taking action toward a truer goal- while I am full of gratitude to be making money to cover bills through this endeavor rather than relying solely on savings- I WANT A PRINCIPAL ROLE! and desire to focus efforts on achievement!!  This same day, still on the set of ‘Smash’, I was called to play a stewardess on Martin Scorsese’s current film project ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’.  Though far from the mark, still a step closer, an opportunity to share space and be seen- perhaps even bumped up to having a line by a well respected director.

From what I heard, redheads are favorably singled out by Mr. Scorsese. We shall see, indeed my hopes are this hearsay carries validity.  In any case, I will be on-set with one of the great film makers of our time and there most certainly will be something valuable to be learned.  Since becoming more re-familiarized working as an extra, I feel I have lost some of the curiosity and irreverence from my first day on ‘Made In Jersey’.  Then I barely stayed in ‘Holding’, rather enjoying the outside and watching the movement of the crew and directors- staying out of the way- but also staying in eyesight: ever smiling.  Be interested, and you shall be interesting- I heard that cleverness somewhere smart.

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