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12:01 am - Mon 6.07.2010
The \"Parks and Recreation\" Shoot

The Parks And Recreation Shoot

Well, Friday was the big Parks and Recreation shoot.

If I'm honest - and if I'm not going to be honest in here, what's the point? - it was mostly not much fun.

But that said, it still had its "moments" (Which I'll get to in a bit).

I somehow didn't think it was going to be a long day (I guess because I just had the two lines), and wasn't prepared.

I wasn't looking at "The Big Picture" - My "two lines" were in the middle of a town-hall scene with four of the "Series Regulars" (Including Amy Poehler), "Guest Star" Will Forte, six or eight "day players" (Yours Truly amongst them), and 85 or 90 extras, (aka. "Background").

There's no way in hell you knock that off in a couple hours.

My call was at 1pm at the studio, but the shoot was actually "on location" at an elementary school auditorium in Sherman Oaks (And they ferried the group of us from the studio to the school).

So I basically just hung out at the studio for three hours, with nothing to do (In a bare dressing room, with nothing but a journal and my non- "smart phone" cell phone to entertain myself. Note to self: Next time you book something, bring a book, even if you don't think you'll have time to read it).

Eventually, they drove me and my fellow "day players" over to the school in a van, and after a time, ushered us into the auditorium.

We shot for about two hours, broke for dinner for about 45 minutes, then shot till we wrapped the final "town meeting" sequence at around midnight.

Some people were finding the stuffiness of the auditorium a challenge - They had to keep the doors closed while they were shooting, and with all the people and lights and whatnot, it was fairly warm - but I didn't have a big issue with that (And I was wearing a heavy pullover); my problem was the auditorium's wooden chairs..

Something about my physiology makes it tough for me to sit for long periods of time, in the best of circumstances, without constantly shifting around for a comfortable position, so the wooden chairs of the auditorium were very tough on me.

So, it was a long day, it was tedious most of the time, and I was tired and pretty uncomfortable.

Now on to "the good stuff"...

It was interesting to watch Amy Poehler work - I don't think she ever did her lines the same way twice, and was throwing in what seemed like little ad-libs to boot - and it was sometimes hard for me not to laugh.

My little bit was the second-to-last shot of the day, and as I was waiting, I started getting pretty nervous - the other day-players who'd done their things before me were really funny, and I was kind of envious of what they'd gotten to do.

And I didn't want to be the first one to swing and miss, when everyone else was hitting homers.

But happily, I didn't - When it came time to rehearse my bit the first time, I did it...and everyone busted up laughing.

It was pretty damned gratifying.

So then we did a bunch of takes (When I'd first read it, I thought of it as its own little "sequence", but it's really the beginning of a sequence involving two other "day players" as well).

The director gave me a note at one point, and after that, didn't say anything else to me, just focusing on the other folks, so I have to assume that means I gave him what he wanted and he didn't need to futz with me any more.

(It's really not logical, but the fact that I got a really big response to my bit when I did it the first time in rehearsal screwed me up a little - Clearly nobody could laugh when we were actually shooting, but it was still hard not to think "Oh shit, did I do my best take in rehearsal...?".

But again, I have to trust that the Director was happy with what he was getting, otherwise he would have said, "Jim, do it like you did in rehearsal...".

So anyway, after that scene was shot, there was one more...and we were done.

There was some general milling about afterward - cause, for one thing, I wasn't immediately sure where we needed to go to sign out, or to get the van back to the studio - so when I saw Jeff (one of my fellow "day players") in the front, clearly cuing-up to talk to Amy Poehler and Mike Schur (One of the Executive Producers, and the Director of the episode), I kind of slipped in behind him.

I shook the Director's hand and thanked him, then talked briefly to Amy P., who told me I was "very funny".

I probably talked a little too much to Amy P. and the actress who plays "Gretta" (Or is it "Rhetta"...?), but I don't think I was too bad, just mildly giddy/star-struck, telling them how pleased I was to get to work with them because the show is one of my favorites, that sort of thing (And I probably told them more than they wanted to know about me, like how I'd been called in for the show once before to play April's Dad - to audition to play April's Dad, actually - and blah blah blah. But I'm sure they'd dealt with more annoying/self-involved "day players" than me. I hope so, anyway)

Then as I walked out with Jeff, we passed Will Forte, who was talking to someone, but who stopped long enough to say "Hey, you were really funny, man" to me.

(He probably didn't think anything of it, but I was embarrassed afterward that I committed a show-biz "faux-pas" without meaning to; he made a point of telling me I was funny, without any prompting, and I just said, "Thank you", without returning the compliment and saying "You too, man" or something like that. And it wasn't that I didn't think it, I just felt weird saying it to Will Forte, like "I'm sure he doesn't need me to tell him he's funny...")

Then it was back to the studio to get my stuff from my dressing room, then to my car, and home.

(Got home at 12:45 am.)

So what's the big "lesson" I've drawn from this experience?

Next time, bring some things to do - some books, some crayons, some actions figures, whatever - even if I think it's going to be a short day.

Cause it might not be.

(And there's a little more to write about on the subject, but time's gotten away from me, I have a busy day tomorrow, and bed is calling...)


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