Monday, August 3, 2009

TP on film

The TP Blog had a moment of stardom last week in San Francisco. Walking up to the Embarcadero with Agent AshW, we noticed a scene of what appeared to be quite a lot of destruction. I was thinking: it's not even a weekend, why is there a street fair?

As we walked along, we noticed carts full of folding chairs on the other side of the police tape, and a film crew with big lights and fans alongside approximately 50 ambulances and a helicopter with no blades.

A crowd was gathering, and a sign in complicated legalese stated that all onlookers were allowing themselves to be filmed on camera as "extras." This was also announced several times by various people with megaphones. Nobody moved. I wondered how many people in the crowd were camera-shy at dinner parties, but perfectly willing to go on film if it meant being seen on national TV.

Turns out this was the filming of a new TV series for NBC about Paramedics, called "Trauma." I guess their pilot episode involved a staged tanker explosion on the Bay Bridge. Exciting!

This, we were told, was season one, episode two.

So Ash and I stood in the crowd as they gave us ad-hoc acting advice ("Remember, you're watching something serious. Don't laugh and smile."), and told the fake actor police officers to keep the crowd in line ("Don't lean on the police tape, that's a prop - stop smiling!").

I remember there was a fairly tall guy in front of us with greasy curls of hair protruding from his baseball cap. When he turned his head, I noticed he had unusually long nostrils. I couldn't figure out exactly what it was about him that seemed so shifty. But at one point, I looked down, and realized that he was holding a slightly squashed, individually shrink-wrapped roll of toilet paper behind his back.

Most of the time, he kept the TP under his blue windbreaker, but occasionally it would peek out, and I would wonder, what exactly is he carrying that around for? Possibly he went on an emergency TP run, and happened to stop to watch all the action. Heaven knows you wouldn't want be caught on camera, watching a medical emergency, with a roll of emergency toilet paper in your hand! But for some reason, despite his height, he seemed determined to stand at the front of the crowd, and therefore was compelled to hold the offending roll awkwardly behind his back, rather than just stand behind everyone else, where he could have put the toilet paper anywhere he very well pleased. Sigh. Oh well. People are strange.

When AW and I saw the toilet paper, we exchanged glances. Then she took a few photos of the set before the "police officers" and crew told us to stop snapping pictures.

Ah, a day in the life of a movie star extra! Welcome to our national television debut. And now, when you see the second episode of Trauma, season one, you'll know what that guy in the blue jacket is holding awkwardly behind his back...Sorry. You got busted!

{Photo: Agent AshW}

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