Life is so fun and random if you let it take you down the strange twists and turns the river has in store for you. The fame and fortune just doesn’t stop around here (haha)! I really enjoy all things art and “Hollywood” from music to modeling to acting to directing to making videos, whatever! So when I heard that a film was looking for people, I immediately sent in my info and a couple of photos. A month later I still hadn’t heard anything.
Then on a Sunday I was sent a message asking if I was available to work on Tuesday and Wednesday. I said yes, but please send the info (where, when, etc) as soon as possible. I didn’t get any info until Monday night at about 7pm and found out that it was in Carolina (San Juan area) and I would need to be there at 6am (less than 11 hours from then) and bring a specific wardrobe. I felt like I was on my own mission impossible movie.
I nearly cancelled because I told my contact that I didn’t think I could make the trip back and forth 2 days in a row driving from Rincón 3 hours away. She mentioned that I would get paid $100/day and I said that I would be driving with Britton. She then offered Britton to come along also as an extra as long as they liked his pictures in order to help cover the costs of us staying in a hotel in San Juan. Though Britton didn’t have the specific wardrobe, we thought we would give it a shot. It was also very hard to have to wake up at 2am and drive somewhere we’d never been.
When we finally arrived and found our way to the office-building/warehouse turned studio, we were ushered into the dining area where we filled out our paperwork including our Puerto Rican drivers’ licenses that were required to work. Then we headed to wardrobe where it turned out it didn’t really matter what clothes we brought because they ended up switching us out of them multiple times.
The majority of the day was spent waiting with the rest of the extras in a room they called “holding.” It was pretty cool getting to know all the different characters. There was one woman from Italy who was also an opera singer. There was a guy who did promotions dressed as Captain Morgan. There was a guy who had written and directed his own films. There were college students and retired people. And nearly all spoke primarily in Spanish which was a challenge for Britton especially when he and I were separated. He had to use his favorite phrase when asked if he knew Spanish: Estoy aprendiendo (I’m learning). And he certainly keeps learning with immersion experiences like these.
The director definitely has some pull when it comes to extras as he could put us in roles that were more or less in the front of the frame. Britton mostly was in the background moving ladders and fixing flux capacitors. I was an office worker and wandered around the incident command center and down hallways with my prop tablet. Some extras actually got seats in the command center or talked (silently in the background) with the “jefe.” We had to do multiple cuts of the same thing. There were lots of calls to return to “primera posición,” “corre cámara” and “¡silencio!”
Me and the director, Bruno Irizarry, who has been involved in movies such as The Rum Diary and 200 Cartas
When the first day finished up around 7pm, we asked some of the crew where we could find a hotel nearby. We didn’t want to spend much and we didn’t want to drive to Isla Verde or Condado since we weren’t making much and we had to be up and back at the studio by 5:30am the next morning. We were so tired after only getting about 3 hours of sleep the night before and working for 12 hours that we just wanted something upon which to lay our weary heads.
They suggested a place just down the road. And we found it easily. It had big red kissy lips on the sign and was down a long private drive lined with palm trees. But when we tried to check in at about 8pm we were told it was only for 8 hours at a time and that there was only very basic amenities. We thought that was a little odd, but went and ate dinner and returned around 9:30pm. It was very cheap at $30 for 8 hours which included tax, but when we entered and closed the garage door behind us, we felt like we stepped into a different movie: Grand Theft Auto perhaps?
There was a sex swing, a stripper pole, purple and pink lights, a mirror above the bed, about 5 channels of porn and a kitchen squirt gun in the bathroom that I presume acts as a bidet. There was a lot of noise all throughout the night with people coming and going and listening to loud music, but the room at least was clean and I was so tired I slept through most of it. I think we were in fact the only couple not using this motel for what it was intended! These sex motels are apparently a very common thing here in Puerto Rico, and something that doesn’t exist in Colorado (at least not that I know of?)!
None-the-less we got through the night for cheap and headed back to the studio for another looong day of mostly waiting around for them to call us. There is only so much you can do while waiting, especially if you don’t have a smart phone. So I doodled and did yoga and we wandered around a little bit until we would get in trouble and herded back to holding.
Overall it was a great experience and we made some wonderful new friends! I would definitely be an extra in a movie again, but maybe a little closer to the west coast. Keep your ears perked for a new science fiction movie called “23 Horas” and you just might spot us in the background.