The location of the shoot was in The Precinct Studio in Rozelle and was a day long shoot that started at 9am. Having not been to Rozelle before, I decided to take a taxi to the studio so that I didn't have to stress about how I was going to swap trains/buses and then walk to get there on time. The taxi ride took about 20 minutes with a bit of traffic congestion along the way and cost me around $35. On arrival, I was greeted by crew member Rachel who showed me to the waiting room where the other extras were chilling out - 5 of us, a mix of men and women, broke the ice pretty quickly and learnt that we were all from the same agency. Casey, Louise, Brendan, Patrick and I spent most of the day getting to know one another and shared our experiences in the acting and modelling industry, keeping each other company in between shoots. We were all fairly new with the agency and this was our first job with the exception of Brendan who was on his second (though if we compared experience in the industry, I probably have the most since I've been in the industry for 5 years in NZ). Oh, and I was the only Asian on set - yes, I do feel quite special haha :P
Everyone was given a Real Insurance Australia company t-shirt (mine was one size too large and made me look a tad nerdy) and we were told that we would be playing employees at the insurance company's call centre. Cool, I've never played the role of someone working in a call centre before! It was an indoor studio shoot today and the set was already set up to look like a call centre - lighting and video equipment were overshadowing the set. One by one we were called to the dressing room get our make-up and hair done by the make-up artists - my make-up was a simple and fresh look, and hair tied up in a ponytail. "You've got the most gorgeous lips and so much hair!" complimented the head make-up lady. Ah yes, I get that every time a professional make-up artist or hairdresser tends to me. Part of me often felt sorry for these people having to deal with my stubborn volume of hair, coming back to tuck away stray ends or adding more hairspray to keep them in place. There were 5 other actors in the dressing room who came from various agencies - they were the featured actors and each had a speaking role in the commercial.
As with all of my extra roles, I spent most of my time waiting around until called on set for the shoot. I came prepared with a book, snacks and water, and a jersey to keep warm. Refreshments of tea/coffee, fruits, water, soft drinks, biscuits, cake and chocolate were provided throughout the day and we just helped ourselves to them as we please. Around 11am, I was called in for the shoot (the extras were called in at different times) - finally some work! I was told to take my allocated seat in front of a computer screen and keyboard, and was given a set of headsets to wear (FYI - none of these equipment were actually connected). My role, like all the other extras, was to pretend I was talking with a smile to a customer making enquiries on the phone, moving my mouth as if talking but muted. The commercial was to be broadcast in all the local TV networks and were shot in 30-, 60- and 90-second lengths. Kellie, one of the featured actors, was telling us she could feel her cheeks vibrating as she smiled and talked - I'm not surprised when we have to repeat the script so many times. Even I was getting tired having a one-way conversation with the blank screen - was just running out of things to talk about!
The crew, actors and extras took a break around 2pm for lunch and was back on set again within the hour, shooting the rest of the scenes. A lot more sitting around having hot drinks and reading books or chit-chatting, and being on set as and when required. The shoot was meant to end at 5pm but overran and didn't wrap up till 8.50pm. One of the male actors did not even get filmed until the last 2 hours - the poor guy was waiting for his turn the whole day! The final scene was a group shot of everyone seated in our makeshift desks, this time actually talking out loud since our voices weren't recorded - oh, the funny things some of us said and everyone was trying to keep it together in our professional call centre manner and not break into laughter while still being filmed. And it's a wrap!
Though it ended up being a really long day, I enjoyed my first experience working in the Sydney acting and modelling industry - the people I worked with today were all very polite and appreciative making the experience fun and enjoyable. Here is the commercial we made that has a glimpse of me (well, my back only, that is):