Tight Trousers and Walk-Ons
Remember that production that cancelled me at 8pm the day before a shoot? Well they offered me two more days which I begrudgingly accepted with no expectation to follow through this time, but lo and behold they came through and to work I went!
This was another period production but this time was the 1970’s which I haven’t done since I first started my career as an SA on Life On Mars which gave me fond memories of my first day on set. Which was cut short when I looked in the mirror when I was in costume; I look like my Dad when he was young. I guess that could be interpreted as a good thing but dear god my crotch could not breathe!
It was a pretty fun shoot if I’m honest. Saw quite a few of old acquaintances I haven’t seen in a while and it was good catching up. Also managed to find some quiet time by myself to write some music which is always sought after. Even though this was a low-budget, straight-to-iplayer series, I like to think I’ve spent part of my day getting paid to write music. All about perspective!
At one point during the second day, myself and few other guys were given cameras/paparazzi accessories and were given specific directions to quiz one of the main actors during a scene. This type of interaction is called a Walk-On. Basically a walk-on means you (the SA) are integral to the scene and as such, entitled to an additional bonus to your pay. Ergo, why the majority of attention seekers/kiss-asses try to hog the camera time. To get a walk-on you would typically either the focus for an establishing shot to setup the scene (a grey-area at times), given a scripted line, interacting with a principle or given specific direction by the director personally. For this scene, the director individually gave us specific lines to quiz the principle as he shoved past us. So direction by director, lines, interacting with principle: was without a doubt a walk-on for all of us.
However, when signing out I asked the 3rd AD whether he could upgrade my chit to a walk-on which is standard procedure. To which he bluntly, and quite rudely stated
“We don’t do that on this production. This is a fixed wage job, only one guy got a walk-on because he was given a line”
When I tried to explain that myself and a few other guys were also given a line, he quickly changed his excuse to there wasn’t money in the budget for that kind of thing which I found quite ridiculous considering the amount of crew, actors, set design, hair + makeup department, around 50 SA’s on £75 a day and you can’t afford to fork out an extra £15? Quite honestly I think he was full of crap. On the one hand, I’ve got better things to do with my time than quibble over a measly £15 but it’s the principle of the matter: being acknowledged for that extra bit we did.
Obviously he wasn’t in a mood to argue and so I signed out as per usual and let my agency know so they can argue it. They take a % commission so they’re always willing to help get that extra bit of pay if it’s deserved.