I'm On BAR KARMA: Part 2
Behold the mildly amusing final chapter!
Prelude here! Part 1 here!
My call time was 6:30, so I’m up at 4:30 and if I knew at that point how long the day was going to be, I would have grabbed another half hour of sleep. I could open my eye but it was all puffy and quite noticeable. The red mark had gone down by half… it didn’t look as bad. Besides, what was I gonna do? Not show up? I had to go and just see what happened.
I got there a little early but the place already had some life to it. Assorted breakfast goodies were splayed out and the crew running craft services were already scrambling away. I was a little anxious and didn’t want egg and cheese breath, or worse, gas – so I opted for a crunchy granola bar and a bottle water. My new friend Corey (likely spelled wrong) showed me around a little. The place is freezing in the morning- just like my day job. Awesome.
The set is bigger than it seems on the show. And yes there are a lot of crew on set and a lot more buzzing around the place. The dressing rooms are all huddled together, off by themselves and William Sanderson, “James”, is the first cast member I meet. It’s a brief exchange, I say something about hoping to not screw up. He replies that, as he understood it, what got me there was my “intelligence and character” so I would do fine. Whether paraphrased or not, that was cool. I meet Cassie Howarth, “Dayna”, minutes later in hair/makeup. We chat. She asks about the online Community, what that’s like, what I’ve contributed to shows and such. We talked about changes to the script, and how it was a lot for one day. Looking in the mirror I remembered my eye jammie. I spilled the beans to the lady doing my makeup. She took a good look and said we should just roll with it and see if anyone notices. I liked her thinking. Cassie wished me luck and was off.
I have about a minute to look at the script in my dressing room (I haven’t really had a chance to soak up the new pages in any way) before my wardrobe arrives and I’m soon ushered to set. I was mike’d up – battery pack hooked onto my jeans and the cord running up the underside of the tee. It gets taped as close to the collar as possible. Well, that thing came off all. day. long. The tape just wouldn’t hold onto the material of the shirt. At one point, midway through the day, I didn’t even notice it had come loose and I was actually stepping on it. It was then I just started fixing it myself rather than call someone over.
As you may have figured all the scenes are shot out of order, so the scenes (8,11,13) in James’ office were first. And it seemed to go alright. Because it was the first thing we did, at about 7:30am, it’ll either be my worst stuff or my best, I’m guessing. Locking eyes with someone while the camera did it’s slow zoom was a little weird. Now, maybe that’s because I’m a city boy and we don’t make a lot of eye contact, or maybe it’s because this whole thing was new for me, or maybe because Cassie is a beautiful woman. You decide. We get some cross coverage shots, performing the material again, they feed me my lines when I get stuck and then we move on to the main Bar area. Matthew Humphreys, “Doug”, had a 9am call and rolled in right on time. We barely got to speak then, we were moved right into places. Copies of the script are everywhere, so your never without one, whenever there was a moment I tried to brush up. These breaks lasted at most 10 minutes and usually only 5.
I smoke, and as it turns out, there’s a spot for that. I keep running into familiar crew over and over. I didn’t dig for secrets to the show, those came later. I wanted to know more about what they did. I dig behind the scenes process stuff. One of my fellow nicotine junkies mentioned how they’re also using two cameras on this day as opposed to the normal one. Why? Well, see, on a normal episode they shoot for about four days. Now, this may have been a shorter script because of all the inserted flashbacks, but this is a one day shoot and probably could have been two. The extra camera is to save some time.
We shoot my grand entrance. It took a few times to get it just right- somehow I did and we moved on to scene 14 because it has a similar set up. We do brief rehearsals before every shot and it seems I nail it on the dry runs more often, so sometimes they film them. While waiting for a set up, things got a little surreal when I was standing at the foot of the bar with all three of the cast looking at me. My field of vision was framed like an iconic shot of the show, or promo pic. Almost like a Déjà Vu. I told them, because they seemed to notice and they thought that was kind of cool. We get to it and I nail a few takes and get a good reaction from every body. Matt slaps me five.
The crew sets up for scene 2 and then it’s me and Cassie doing the scene tweak I came up with. I half pull it off. I’m flubbing stuff I wrote – two lines. Albie and Rosario tell me to go again and toss in “I wrote that…” (see the irony there, kids?). I think I missed that a few times too. They get stuff they like and we move on. We do a scene where the craft services guy walks on set and I’m the only one who can see him. There was more of this type of meta stuff in the original draft. I wonder how this will play to viewers as it’s the only scene of it’s kind in the final script, I wonder if it’ll stay in the final cut. So, Rosario asks the crew who wants to be the craft services guy? Nobody wants to even be on screen. Eventually they just get the actual Craft Services Guy to do it. Natural born actor that John. The actual Light Meter Dude, he mans-up and gets in the shot. I pass another of the lines I came up with to him. Again I mess up my own writing. We get it eventually. Who’s to say it even makes it to air?
We shoot shoot shoot, we break for lunch. Oooh options! I Load my plate before I realize there’s some kind of fish too. I missed out on something tasty I’m told later. I take my plate to my dressing room I don’t know if it’s taboo to eat in there, but the tables seemed loaded and I wanted to look at the script some more. While I’m eating, there’s a production meeting going on during lunch- they’re discussing the finale. I can’t really make out the words exactly, but I can certainly hear them too well. I finish, go smoke, come back and see my new pal, Corey hanging by the door to the production office/dressing room area. He says he’s supposed to ask me to wait, they were going over secret finale stuff. Oh, I had no idea…
We go back to shooting. There’s this line about yogurt, it’ a carryover from the first draft. Hell, I don’t even eat yogurt, but maybe CM#1 does. The first time I saw the phrasing I thought it was going to be trouble but I guess I knew it enough that I hit it almost every time. Well, right at this point I did….
[Brief aside. Now, in the episode, the Community Member character has to make a choice, as do all visitors to Bar Karma. This episode, for cuteness or quirkiness I guess, it seems to come down to Lime Cheesecake or Bananas Foster. Now, yogurt flavors aren’t really a Karmic Dilemma… or a dilemma at all. But if you’re wondering…yes, I have a theory. As always. CM#1 was being sarcastic of course, and obviously from the opening of the show, his dilemma had more to do with a search for answers then anything else (not a globule of yogurt in sight). But he never really gets those answers, not to his complete satisfaction, anyway. He had to choose to come to terms with the fact that you don’t always get what you want. No matter how many mountains you move. Or something like that.]
Then I have to pull out a camera and steal a picture with Doug. Seems easy. So it’s: say line, pull out camera, get close to Doug, point it at us, but don’t block the REAL camera’s frame, snap pic, say next line, walk off and say a line I wrote. Yeah … that took a few times. I’m really starting to feel the heat in this place by this time, they were right, I’m starting to sweat a bit. The Bill Blass heavy button down I’m wearing, that I bought at TJ Maxx as a “winter layer”, is officially trying to kill me. But they’ve got a fan and I also went out into the cold air for a smoke, that helped. For ten minutes, maybe.
Some where around this point I start talking to Cassie and Matt about the show. I tell how its getting better each week, that the show is finding its groove. They totally agree. They feel it on their end too. Matt won’t reveal too much about where it’s going but he does say that the plan is to really turn the show on its head. They want the audience to think its going a certain way and then it goes in another direction. Internally, I smile at this. Because, on the call sheet for this day, it lists all the scenes to be shot and each is accompanied by a one sentence description of the scene. But it also list the scenes for the next day. For the finale. So if these very brief, out of context, descriptions are interpreted properly by myself, then, I saw some of it coming already. But hey, they are like the smallest, vaguest tidbits so I’m not getting all cocky about it, my summations could be way off.
Eventually, we got to the last leg of the day and I was wearing down. It was becoming harder to remember my lines. I also noticed that my throat was getting raspy but we had to shot a few more scenes. In particular, Doug and James coming out from the back room, to set up my send off. They attempt to get it all in one shot. Well, this is were it all goes wonky for me.
Matt/Doug comes out first, drops his line and Bill/James steps out, and I say it half assed but ok, then flub my next response. We go again. They come out just like before, Doug’s line is a mouthful, when it’s my turn I say… I say…(damit!)”Line?”. This goes on. Every time Matt comes out, he nails it. Nails It! And I’m blank. Now they have the two of them come out of the office together, is that so as to not throw me off? Well, it does. My pal, the mistress of Make-up is patting down my forehead, totally amazed by how much I’m sweating. Me too, thanks. They help, they feed me lines and I try. I’m feeling pressure for the first time all day. It’s getting late, long day for everyone, I think I’m shutting down, I can’t retain anything. Can’t focus. They have the fan on me between takes, Right on me. Whether imagined or not, I feel there’s a vibe in the room now. This is likely what they expected all day, they’re very understanding, but still, their watching me slip apart. It may have only been five or ten times but it felt like twenty. We get through it.
With that done, William Sanderson wrapped his last shot of the day and I got a group pic. Cool shit. I get through my last scenes with Matt and Cassie and they go home. Lucky bastards. Turn’s out I forgot about the “Coverage” they owe me from an earlier scene. Close ups. Kim the AD stands off camera and does Cassie/Dayna’s lines -but is soon feeding me mine. I’m loosing focus again. God bless her she’s trying, but the pained look in her face as she whispers doesn’t help. This is the worst part of the day.
But I get through it. We wrapped at about 8:40pm.
I can only hope I gave them enough good stuff to work with. Who knows how much of what I’ve mentioned will even make air. Will my puffy red eye show up? I wonder if my lazy eye will– I’m fairly certain they caught it—it’s doing its thing in my mug shot wall pic after all. I’m sure my New York City accent will be front and center. I probably slouch too much. Shoulda dun dis, shulda dun dat.
Understandably it was a busy, busy day but I was a bit surprised no one, officially, picked my brain about the online stuff, I mean people asked, but not in any real depth or a “let’s get feedback” kind of way.
I want to thank everyone at Bar Karma for giving this a shot, for helping me not look too stupid, and everyone on the BK Online Community, especially Kathi and ED. I also thank YOU for reading.