Extra, Extra

As I look for creative ways to fill my time (and pay my rent), I finally looked into a link a coworker had sent me once, for an agency called 4Star Casting. Based here in the city, they’re an extras and background casting agency that provides warm bodies for everything from emergency scenes in Chicago Med to crowd scenes for the latest movie to film in the Windy City.

You’ve got to jump through a few hoops, but generally speaking it was fairly easy to get on their roster as another name in a long list of names willing to be in the background. Once I’d signed up, I quickly saw a post calling for chic, business-like extras needed that very same night. An overnight shoot for Widows, Steve McQueen’s newest film, they were looking for people to mill about at a hotel bar where two actors were meeting for a drink.

I’d heard of Widows, not only because Chicago gets itself in an adorable tizzy when big productions come to town, but also because of that time Steve McQueen came to the Chicago Int’l Film Festival. He came to be honored at the Festival, but also – at least according to word on the street – to location scout for this very film shoot.

What does it mean to be an extra on a major film production? I’m not sure I could really tell you, but I can share what my one night giving it a go was like. It involves a makeup triumph, comical eavesdropping and, you know, witnessing an Oscar-winning director direct a few scenes. Continue reading “Extra, Extra”

Review: Band Aid

I don’t remember exactly when I became a fan of Zoe Lister-Jones, but it happened at some point, because now I follow her on Instagram. Last July, she posted a headline that she’d be making her directorial debut with Band Aid, a feature she also wrote and would produce and star in.

By January, that little feature was not only shot and picture locked, but it enjoyed a premiere at Sundance. In May, it screened as part of the Chicago Critics Film Festival, where I was able to catch it during a week jam-packed with great films.

In a matter of months, I’d seen a film go from announcement to festivals and then to theaters. A rapid timeline by anyone’s standards! And something about this one – an original script by an already successful actress – made it particularly intriguing. This is creating, this is making art, making something from nothing.

It’s not a dig against it to say the movie isn’t anything monumental. Nothing explodes, there’s no big special effects. Instead, it’s a modern, original relationship comedy, one that finds its stride in the chemistry between Lister-Jones and Adam Pally as a married couple on the rocks who decide to turn their fights into songs for their new band.  Continue reading “Review: Band Aid”

Walk With Me

I recently made a change in my employment status, stepping away from the formality of full-time office work in order to pursue my own client work (and preserve my sanity). It’s been a great few months, and things are starting to come together (though not to the point that I’m ready to blog about it in detail just yet).

While I work on piecing together a business that is exactly what I want it to be, the world keeps spinning and the rent is still due on the first of each month. As it does. Which means I’ve had to get creative about where to generate income, and fast.

It was actually on the plane home from Paris that I wondered what kind of film tours were offered around Chicago. I’d taken several walking tours while in France, and so the idea was fresh in my mind. It’s a fun way to explore a new city, and I’ve actually been a guide before, having given campus tours to prospective students when I was a senior in college. Continue reading “Walk With Me”