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12:34 am - Friday, Nov. 25, 2005
\"House\" Calls

House Calls

Well, the House gig is history.

When I checked my voice-mail Tuesday night, while I was at the theater, there was a message from Janet (One of the House ADs), telling me my call was at 4:30 p.m.

Then later, as I was riding home, there was another message from Janet, changing the call to 5:30.

Yesterday, I heard from Janet a couple more times–first, she wanted to know if I could get to the set by 5:00 (Eager to be on time, I was already on my way), then she called back to say “never mind”, that 5:30 was fine.

When you consider that each message required a return confirmation call, and I initiated a round of phone calls myself (When I got a dropped call yesterday afternoon, and thought it might have been a House-call), Janet and I got to know each other pretty well yesterday.

Here’s what I wrote in the “Book Journal”, from the time I got there, till they called me to the set:

Weds 11/23/05 (5:30 pm)

As I begin, I’m in a “honey-wagon” (i.e. a trailer with a number of small dressing rooms) on the Fox lot, preparing to do my bit on House.

As you know, I was hoping for an early call, because today is my last day of ArcLight training. But “‘Twas not to be”, I guess.

Now I’m left hoping this shoots quickly, and I can get to the theater before 10:00–That way, I can take the little 15 question, open book “test” (The only real “training” that’s left, apparently), and start on the regular schedule on Friday.

I’m not thrilled that this experience is going to be marred by having to rush to the theater afterwards, assuming there’ll be time (My ArcLight things are in the car, just in case). Or that whenever this night ends, I’ll have to deal with parking. But what can you do? It is what it is.

The cold sore on my bottom lip is drying up, but still quite evident (Getting a cold sore is something I always worry about when I book a job, and now it’s come to pass. But in this case, happily, it doesn’t matter–I’m wearing a mask).

I’m wearing my “scrubs” right now, and a pair of white Nikes they laid out for me (There was also a pair of two-toned gray Champions in the trailer when I got here).

I’m very happy to be doing this, don’t get me wrong (I got a kick out of just walking through the lot, especially since we’re shooting on “New York Street”, their NYC mock-up), but I’m feeling a little embarrassed by all the people who are asking about the “air date” for this episode–It’s just one line, after all, and all you’re going to see of my face are my eyes, so I hope no one’s expecting “The Jim Hoffmaster Show” here.

(6:15)

Lori, an A.D., just came by to pick up my paperwork (i.e. my “contract”), and to tell me my scene should be coming up shortly (Actually, there are two scenes, though it kind of seems like one to me–I have my line, then I’m in the background, operating, as four of the series principals, up in the “observation deck”, discuss the case).

Since I’m wearing a cap and a mask, there’s not going to be any hair and makeup. Which I sort of figured, but it’s still a little disappointing–Having a pretty makeup girl touching my face while applying makeup is as close as I ever get to “intimate contact” with a woman these days.

Here’s some unwanted tension–My contract says nothing about Monday, and no one seems to know what I’m talking about when I say JS was told I’d be getting paid for that day (Editors note: That deal was made with “casting”, which is why no one on set knew about it–the casting people had gone home for the day. But I talked to JS, and I think everything’s going to be fine).

I know getting paid for Monday, when I didn’t actually work, will seem unreasonable to many of you, like I’m getting something I don’t deserve.

But...

1) They really put me through changes that day by not calling me. And technically, I think if they don’t call you by some certain time, you’re “on call” for the day, and are supposed to get paid (And they didn’t call–We had to call them).

2) I can really use the money (Especially if this call time means I won’t be able to be on the schedule for another week at the ArcLight).

3) They said they would (And in my world, #3 is all you really need to say).

And at that point, I was called onto the set.

I don’t know exactly what I expected, but it really didn’t feel much different from some of the commercial sets I’ve been on.

I’ve thought about this before, and it hit me again when I got on the set–one reason I’d like to be a “series regular” (Or have a large enough part on a movie that I was going to be there awhile)--aside from the money/fame/getting-to-act-more stuff, is that it’s kind of lonely, just coming in and doing your one-day thing. The crew all know each other, the principals (If it’s a series) all know each other, and even though everyone I came into contact with was quite nice, it’s still hard not to feel like “odd man out”.

Once things got started, they moved very quickly, at least from my frame-of-reference up to this point.

When I came onto the set, the director, Jim Hayman, introduced himself, then went over what I was supposed to do–basically turn to the nurse who was assisting me (A real nurse who is one of their technical advisors), say my line, then look back at the monitor (where they had video playing of the surgery in question) and continue “operating”--and that was pretty much the last direct contact I had with him (I assumed that was a good thing. I doubt they want to spend a lot of time having to tell the day-players how to do their one or two lines).

I was doing a laproscopic (sp?) procedure, so I didn’t have a scalpel or anything like that. Instead, I had a camera thingie in my left hand, and the “cutting tool”, whatever it’s called, in my right, with “business ends”, like two long knitting needles, going into the body (The actress was lying on the table, with a fake layer of abdomen laid on top of her). And there were two other actresses–at least one of whom was also a real nurse–in the “operating room” (The other “real nurse”, who was walking around taking notes on a clipboard during the scene–was very complimentary of my technique: She said the way I held the instruments looked very “authentic”).

The nurse who was “assisting me”–wish I remembered her name. She was very nice–showed me how to hold the instruments, telling me which was which, then took the “camera” from me at one point during the scene, so I could focus on “cutting” (So I just watched the video on the monitor, and tried to match up my “cutting”–basically pushing a little button on the side of the instrument–with what I was seeing happening in front of me).

Not sure how many “takes” we did–There were at least eight–and only once or twice did I specifically get why another take was needed (Once my “assistant” jumped the gun; another time, the director thought the camera movement was too slow), but I was called to the set at around 6:30, and by 8:15, I was done (And my bit was actually done before that–They just needed “the surgical team” to hang around, in case you could see us in the glass from the observation deck as the scene with the principals played out. But it turned out you couldn’t).

After that, it was just a question of signing out with the A.D., getting out of wardrobe and back into my street clothes, and heading on out.

So you’re wondering (Maybe you’re not, but I’m going to assume someone is): Was it fun? Was it exciting? Was it glamourous?

And my without-thinking answer would be “sort of”, “no”, and “not at all”.

It doesn’t feel like I’m really “acting” yet, and I’m looking forward to that, but it was pretty cool being on a tv set.
I didn’t wander too far afield–I didn’t want anyone having to “corral” me–but I looked at whatever I could see while still staying within sight of the “operating room” (And it’s gonna sound stupid, but I just got a kick out of how much it looked like a real hospital).

I had, for some reason, been a little bit nervous about the camera–Like I was going to screw up and look right into it or something–but when things got started, I didn’t really even think about it being there. I just focused on getting my line out, then performing my “operation”.

But I didn’t feel all “jazzed”, doing what I was doing (I probably felt that more afterwards than I did while I was doing it). I went pretty quickly from being a little nervous, to noticing how hot and uncomfortable I was, breathing with a surgical mask on, and how quickly I was getting tired, standing in one spot.

It wasn’t the kind of thing where you’re going to feel a big sense of accomplishment afterwards, I don’t think; I just felt good that I didn’t do anything that hung up the production. And I definitely got a charge out of how much I’d gotten paid to do what I’d just done.

I think it’s like Brett (The Actors Co-op guy) said to me–At this point, it’s not about screen time or lines or anything like that: Basically, this is something you can put on the resume, something you can tell people you did, and hopefully, something that will somehow, some way, lead to other things.

__________________________

Happy ArcLight News: I was able to get to the theater, take my little "test", and basically "graduate" with the rest of my little training "class".

So my first day on the actual schedule is...well, today (3:00-11:00).

Wish me luck...

 

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