Part 6: Closing Down the Set
It is starting to get late on this epic, neverending day, and the other two extras are definitely in a mode of “let’s get out of here, they don’t need us anymore.” But the producers and directors are very much about playing it safe and won’t release them until they know 100 percent sure they won’t be needed. After about another 30 minutes, they tell Scott, Cecilia and myself that our “call” is over. Of course, David being the great guy he is, says, “Jim if you want to get out of wardrobe and then come back and watch this last scene, that would be great.” And I was thrilled. My neck was really hurting at that point from the constricting uniform. So I was watching them set up a bit and was able to say goodbye to Cecilia and give her a hug. I didn’t get to say goodbye to Scott.
So after they left, I was talking to Tag for a little bit and started to head out to wardrobe when David called me back and said that Roxann wanted to meet me. Although meeting the actors and stuff was really low on my priority list, I was thrilled because all day I had obviously been standing right behind her (although at a decent distance) and she had clearly seen me standing there, but was so focused and working so hard we didn't make eye contact even one time (a tall feat, which she could only have accomplished by trying very hard).
Anyway, they had already set up everything back in the corner by the shuttlepods, and Roxann was in her chair and they walked me up and we had a nice little exchange. She was obviously happy that the charity was for Robert Duncan McNeil and was very, very nice. We took a picture and I headed back out to change.
In trying to find my way back to wardrobe, I got a little bit lost, and had to ask for some directions. As I was walking out, I went one way, then another, then realized I didn’t know which way to go, so just stood there looking for someone to ask. Then between two trailers, Connor Trinneer came walking by, so he stopped and I said, “OK, which way to wardrobe? I’m completely turned around.” So he pointed me the right way, and we shook hands and I said “Thanks” and he said “Thanks” and it was a real nice moment.
As I tried to follow those directions, I realized everything looked different in the dark, but I finally found my way and was able to say goodbye to Carol in wardrobe after changing back into my regular clothes. I was nearing the end of a great day, but was still looking forward to going back to the set and watching the filming of that final scene. Before I did, though, I quickly went to my car and got out a bag of t-shirts and hats that I brought from my employer to hand out to anyone who might appreciate it.
On my way back to the stage, I walked by the “StarWagons” again in front of Stage 18 and saw a uniformed Star Trek leg and boot up in the air that I surmised definitely belonged to Dominic, who was kicking back in his trailer. To play it cool, though, I kept walking by the window, not wanting to look back at him like a dork.
Once I got back, the first people I saw were Tag and JR, so I made sure to take care of them with my soccer shirts. I didn’t really hand any more out until after all the shooting was done, taking care of Jan and a couple of camera grips, and then David and producer Brad Yacobian.
For the last scene of the day, I once again found a way to position myself behind the directors and the monitors at about a 10 o’clock position off the front of the shuttlepod. After a few minutes of standing there, Tag came over and grabbed a director’s chair and cleared a spot out for me to sit and watch, which was outstanding because I was exhausted.
As it turns out, I was glad to have a chair, because it took them forever to get this scene done. The scene was basically Reed, Mayweather and a MACO flying the shuttle toward Vulcan and being fired upon (which was a corresponding scene to the stuff we were dealing with in my scenes on the bridge). For the scene, they needed to really shoot the entire thing from three angles, one with both Reed and Mayweather in the frame, and then one each with the camera focused on each of them individually.
The scene also required a couple of effects and sparks bursts, so it was obviously going to take awhile. After another safety meeting for everyone, they started filming the scene. Unfortunately, Anthony Montgomery, who was just the nicest guy you could imagine (and during the evening during a later break he made a point to say “Hi” and we exchanged a few words), was really struggling to get his lines down.
Granted it was a long scene and he was the main focus of the scene, but I would say the average takes on the scenes on the bridge was between 2 or 3, with the max being 4 maybe once or twice. They ended up going through the scene about 7 or 8 times, and they never really got it all the way through perfectly, but I think Roxann was satisfied at the end to just have all the pieces that they could utilize later.
I felt really bad for Anthony during these takes. He knew what a long day it had been for the crew and that it was Friday night and almost 10 p.m. and he was just slowing everything down. He was really emotional every time he messed up, apologizing profusely to everyone. By everyone I mean all the stagehands, not just his cast mates and the director. He was a great guy, and later you could see how much everyone loved him when he was the person chosen to pull the name out of the “10-dollar-day bucket.”
What’s the “10-dollar-day bucket?” Well, from the very first second I walked onto the set, I heard one of the stagehands walking around with a covered bucket, with a slit, hollering “10-dollar day! 10-dollar day!” It didn’t take me long to figure out that they must have a daily or weekly event where they literally pass around a bucket and people can drop in a $10 bill with their name on it. This idea is brilliant. It is gambling for the sake of gambling and you can enter multiple times or just once, just like the lottery. A great idea. The “10-dollar day” call out from the stagehands was literally all day long. I probably heard the deep bellowing of “10-dollar day” at least 30-40 times during the day. And based on how many people I saw drop a tenner into the bucket, there must have been at least $500 in the bucket. At least. What I didn’t pick up on throughout the day, was that the fix was in (which made me happy I didn’t enter!). When the final scene was finally in the can, Anthony was out of the shuttlepod and smiling and joking with everyone and it was time to pull the “10-dollar-day winner” out of the bucket. So he pops the lid, reaches in and with a big smile announces: KAREN. It immediately became obvious to me that most if not all the people who had been dropping money into the pot had been writing down Karen’s name to try and give her a nice swan song. It would have royally sucked if I had put in a tenner and then won.
With the shuttlepod scene completed at about 10:45 p.m., I finished passing out a couple more t-shirts, said goodbye to Jan and Roxann, and headed outside to say goodbye to David and make sure he got one of the last two shirts I had. When I met up with David I was more than content to end the day right there, but he said, “You know, we should get you a call sheet with your name on it, and a script to keep.” To which I said, “I would love that!”
The scripts were kept in a secure locker on Stage 19, where we ate earlier in the day, and as we were walking between the two buildings, we were approached by Brad Yacobian (the highest ranking Trek producer on the set). He was very excited about Karen winning the money, and as we were speaking I made a point to say something funny like, “You know, I did my best to get rid of all my shirts before running into the producer of the show, but I failed, so you get one, too.”
He seemed to think that was mildly funny and we exchanged a few words and I told him how great everyone had been and how much people like me appreciate all the work they do. It was a nice meeting and we talked briefly about the move to Friday and the ratings challenge, and he agreed with my assessment that “all the show really needs on Friday is a very small bump in the ratings over Season Three.” That would seemingly be enough to get them into a season past this one.*
*Note: I know now he was quite aware this was the end. Sigh.
After shaking Brad’s hand, we moved inside Stage 19 and David unlocked a locker and pulled out a copy of the script, as well as three “script revisions” that had come in since it was finalized. This was very cool to see. The script revisions are a great way to see how the finished product morphs into what eventually makes it to the screen. He also gave me the episode’s “shot sheet” which included my name and the scenes I was appearing in, as well as the daily call sheet.
I loved it. The script is the coolest thing ever, but of course I had to tell him that I wouldn’t be able to read it until November. As we were walking out, he asked me if I saw the Stage 20 Vulcan sets and before I can ever really answer we are opening the door and walking through those sets again, and he is showing me what they are working on and what it is going to be (this is how I learned it was going to be the Vulcan Council Chamber). He also made a point to say that some of the walls were reuses of the Xindi avian set from the end of last season and even some of it was reused stuff from Nemesis.
Keep in mind that this guy has been on set since probably 7 a.m. He has been on his feet all day. He is basically in charge of everything going on at Stage 18, calling out shots, script reads, lighting, etc., etc. And here it is after 11 p.m. on a Friday evening and he is taking the time to show me these sets and get me a script, etc. Amazing guy. The day was almost over, but not quite. As we are leaving Stage 20 he decides I should see the make-up design area for heavy alien make-up. It hadn’t occurred to me that the place I had my hair done was for just hair and make-up on your standard human.
But upstairs, in one of the many hidden areas in the little alleyway between Stage 18 and 19, was the full make-up area for heavy aliens. We walk up the stairs, he unlocks the door, turns off a few alarms and shows me Michael Westmore’s workshop. What an absolute treat. There were so many major masks and alien heads visible that I could barely begin to describe them all. But I did see a few Jem’Hadars, Tosk, a few Cardassians, some Klingons and a special hair section just for Klingon beards and moustaches.
After that final treat, we headed back down stairs and I said goodbye to David from the very spot I had met him that morning. Within a few minutes I was driving out of the Paramount gates and heading back to Manhattan Beach, still in shock about what had just happened.
I was on Star Trek.