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Well, stand-in extra...  I was invited by my neighbor (Khun Franz from Holland) yesterday to participate in the filming of a movie.  A production company from England (connected with the BBC) has been on Phuket for some time working on "The Aftermath", about the December 26, 2004, tsunami.  One of the stars is Tim Roth, who plays a reporter.  The company has been putting out casting calls for local extras, both expats/vacationers and Thai people.  Franz has been participating since day one and I was happy that he asked me along this time.

We left at 4:45 in the morning.  After a quick stop to pick up a couple of other friends of Franz's, we drove to the Royal Merlin Hotel in Phuket Town.  Many other people were milling about and we soon boarded a fleet of large coach busses which took us to the day's location:  Phuket International Airport.  We were unloaded at the far edge of the parking lot where a number of tents were set up for waiting.  There was a buffet breakfast and most of the extras began filling bowls of noodle soup and cups of coffee.  It rained off-and-on throughout the early morning hours causing the water accumulate in the tents (which were sited on low ground).  I spent probably the first three hours of the day wandering around in water that came above my feet.

Around 8:00, the crew began selecting people to go to and pick out clothing.  Mostly these were very ugly t-shirts, some with holes ripped in them.  These people also received painted-on scars and other injuries.  Franz and I weren't in this group and we continued waiting with the majority of the others on this casting call.  A little before 10:00, we were all walked across to the terminal and stopped in front of a large section of the main floor that had been blocked-off for filming.  One of the assistant directors explained the scene that was to be filmed:  The tsunami had hit approx. four hours before; we had made it to the airport and wanted to get off the island as quickly as we could but were frustrated that all flights were cancelled and so gathered in small groups around our luggage.  I was in a group directly in front of the flight listings monitor, along with Franz and a boy laying on the floor covered in a blue blanket.  The nurse came around and bandaged up my right arm in a cast and gave me a sling; I also had a small bandage on my left wrist and a large band-aid put on the right portion of my forehead.

Originally, they wanted me to kneel over the boy on the floor, consoling him.  But then the director decided he wanted me and Franz to have an animated conversation (mimed, of course, as we weren't allowed to make any sounds during filming), continuously pointing at the flights monitor.  They also wanted me slighly in line with the main camera track so that the hand-held camera (too many people to use a Stedicam) would bump into me as if it was a person bumping into me.  They must have done ten or more takes of this one scene with the hand-held camera weaving through the people on the terminal floor.  The camera would turn somewhere on my left and return, bumping into me a second time while a news photographer would lean in, focus his camera on me and then on the boy on the floor while the movie camera would pan down to follow the news photographer's actions.  In the middle of these takes, they decided we were getting too tired so they broke for lunch (back at the rain-soaked tents where were served some excellent spaghetti with meat sauce).

After lunch, they did several more takes with the hand-held camera.  Most of these retakes were necessitated by a group of Middle Eastern-looking men who were on the floor immediately to my left.  They were supposed to be camped out amidst their luggage (mostly Hefty bags), some sleeping, others sitting on the floor.  The problem was that they kept changing positions during the retakes or they would argue when the AD's would tell them to stash their food and drink out-of-sight.  Finally, they were given their release forms to sign so they could be paid and sent back to the tents to await the end of the day's shooting.  With that episode finished, they got some successful takes from the floor and then did several other takes with a camera on a track that ran back-and-forth lengthwise across the front of the terminal (which we were facing).  At the same time, they also filmed using a camera from the third floor balcony that overlooks the terminal floor.

They had the interior scene finished by 4:00 and then took several groups of people (mostly those who were "costumed") out front to film arrivals at the airport.  I think these scenes were hampered by continuing rain showers but it wasn't until 6:00 or so that they called it a wrap.  By this time, it had begun pouring rain and instead of having us walk across the parking lot to the tents they had minibusses pick us up under the terminal awning.  Back at the tents, they gave us all release forms (asking name, address, passport number, and telephone number) which we presented to the cashier who then paid each of us 1,500 baht (about USD $35) for the day's work.  We then climbed aboard the various coach busses to take us back to our particular staging areas; Franz, his friends, and I managed to get on the wrong bus and it was only by the slimmest of margins that I found out that one was going to Bangkok (a 12-hour trip) and we transferred to the proper bus.

In all, it was very interesting but very boring.  There was A LOT of waiting around and doing nothing.  I've been asked to return on Wednesday (we leave even earlier this time) and I'll be prepared with a book to read between shots.  I can't wait to see this movie and see if they cut me out or not...