Friday, February 9, 2007

"30 Rock": Part II

In mid January I got a call from the background casting director for “30 Rock” asking if I would be available to stand in for Jane Krakowski for two days at the end of the week. Jane’s regular stand-in, who was also her stand-in for “Ally McBeal,” was on vacation. And of course I said yes. Stand-in work is really great- the principals (actors with lines) first rehearse the scene with the director and the stand-ins watch and mentally record all of their movements. The principals then head over to makeup and wardrobe, so stand-ins are needed by the crew to help set lighting levels and focus the camera. When the crew is set, the principals come back and the stand-ins get to watch the scene get filmed. It pays a little better than background work, and you get to feel like you are part of the crew building a great production.

Plus, because you are a stand-in you get to be around the principals as they are preparing for the scene, which means you can learn a lot from them, as well as converse when appropriate. When I arrived at the set, I delighted to find out that the same director who directed me in the flashback scene was also the director on this episode. (Directors tend to alternate episodes because when one episode is in post-production, the next episode is currently shooting, so unless there is a hiatus a director cannot often work on back to back episodes). I was telling a fellow stand-in about my experience the first time on the “30 Rock” set, and just as I finished to story the director, Don Scardino, walked by and said, “Hi, there. Nice to see you again!” My fellow stand-in turned to me and said, “Wow- he remembers you. That is a really good sign.”

Day 1: Cold cold Cold cold COLD!

The first day we were on location at various spots in midtown and the scenes we shot involved Tina Fey, Tracy Morgan, Jane Krakowski, Rachel Dratch and several of the other series regulars. However, much of the day we were shooting outdoors, so the principals spent their time in the trailers while we and the crew braved the cold winds. But I did get to talk to Jane for a bit about the sad news that she would not be able to do the Broadway run of “Xanadu.” I would have loved to have seen her in that. It was interesting to start to see Jane, and other mega-stars, as people like you and me. Jane and a few others were talking about a scene they shot previously which portrays Jane’s character, Jenna, as a un-American terrorist. Jane was talking about the fact that she was worried that some people will, without having watched the show to catch the humorous context of the “terrorist” label, hear about this and believe it to be personally true about Jane. She explained that people, especially in middle America, tend to blend the characters they watch with the people portraying them. It really put a spotlight on some of the downsides of being famous. I left that evening with a truer sense of what it means to be a professional actor.

Day 2: Dear Diary Moment

On the second day, we were in the studio shooting several scenes. Jane had the day off, so I stood in for a few guest stars instead. The highlight of my day was watching one of the scenes between Tina Fey, Alec Baldwin, and two other very funny actors. Man, it is really great to see comic genius at work. (The episode is slated to air in two weeks, so make sure you have that stuff TiVo’d, yo.) As a stand-in, your job is to anticipate when they need you and make sure you are not in anyone’s way the rest of the time. When they call cut and indicate they are moving on to the next camera angle, you rush in to take the mark of the principal you are covering. Oftentimes, this means that you witness some very funny conversations that happen between the principals and the crew. As I slipped onto my mark, Alec Baldwin and the director were joking about something and were laughing, while I stood not two feet away trying not to listen in. So, it was a big surprise to me when Alec looks at me and asks,

Alec: Wow- what color are your eyes?” (And I was wearing glasses, so he really had to look hard!)
Erin: (pull off glasses and leaning forward) They are hazel. But they change color depending on what I am wearing or how angry I am.
Alec: They are just the most fantastic color. Amazing.
Director: (looking on, approvingly)
Erin: (starting to blush) Thanks... Ok, I am starting to blush now. See that? You made me blush.
Alec: (laughs)
Erin: I’m gonna write about you in my diary tonight. Dear Diary- Today, Alec Baldwin said I have...
Alec: No, no. Just use initials.
Erin: Ok. Dear Diary: A.B. said I have...
Alec: No, no. Just use “A.”
Erin: Right-o. Just “A.” Got it.

As soon as I got off set I immediately texted Tom to tell him about it. He told his friends I was gonna sleep with “A.” As if.

Well, the best part of this whole thing was that the director was standing there the whole time. And, remember, this was the director who said he wanted to see me read for him sometime. So, the fact that I had some sort of appeal to Alec and that the director thought I had a good look hopefully has created some sort of value for me in his eye. After that, I wanted to be sure I found a way to let the director know that I’d still like to be considered for a role next time one became available. So, at the end of the shoot, I went up to him, handed him my business card and said, “I have had such a great time these past few days. I would love to have the chance to read for you. Here is my card. I’ll make sure the casting agent has my updated information.”


Stay tuned for Part III where you’ll find out one of the following:

a) Erin was cited for stalking
b) Erin was banned from the set of 30 Rock
c) Erin miraculously got called in again to stand-in for Jane’s stand-in
d) Erin is now a big fat star, and has an intern write this blog

1 comment:

  1. You rock. Hard. This is so much fun to read about and I'm so excited for you and this experience!

    I've said for a long, long time that you will be one of the few who "make it" big, and I sense that storm brewing.

    Looking forward to the next post!

    /crossing my fingers and hoping for "d"

    NOTE TO MISS ERIN'S INTERN: my name is Brent and I knew Erin "back when," so my responses to her posts are to be treated like they are VERY witty. Remember this important fact or Erin will fire you.


Thanks for commenting- YOU ROCK!

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