On Set... Continued
Feature from 2010Then it was our turn.....
We were called down and each given specific roles to play, directions to follow and routes to walk. The tunnels were filled with dry ice and after a quick rehearsal, action was called.
A young Ernie stood in a bare, makeshift kitchen beneath the town in the air raid shelter. He paused before turning and heading down the tunnel back to Sadie and Eric who were waiting in a side passage.
In front of him the tunnel was busy with activity. Ahead of him a uniformed man passes a lady with a pram, looking for a loved one. A nurse busy looking for something appears from another tunnel and two other women appear from the opposite direction; all making their way through the smoke filled gloom. In the middle of them Ernie turns off into a side tunnel, the camera follows his move.
This tunnel is full of people, awakened in the night and now lining the walls on wooden benches. Close by a small record player crackles out a war time tune, nearby sit Sadie and Eric. Ernie approaches and takes up the tune, playing pots, pans and a warden’s helmet with a pair of wooden spoons. People clap and laugh at his antics, anything to take their minds away from the war above them.
Eric and Ernie crack a few jokes, the people smile, but Sadie recognises something and tells them to write it down. “You could use that.” She says, “Write it down so you remember it.”
Places please, the director informs us we are going again.
Back to my start position next to the kitchen, wait for the nod and back off down the tunnel, passing the other extras busy playing their roles with great enthusiasm.
Cut. It’s done.
The exterior people, the people not in the tunnel with Sadie, are asked to leave and wait back at the entrance, our job complete; or so we think.
The director moves in gets some close ups from different angles. Of the people laughing, the record player, Eric and Ernie.
A few minutes later and we are called back to re-enact the scene from a different angle. This time the cameras are in the side tunnel, right next to Sadie, as Ernie goes through his routine.
Several of us are asked to appear from the outer tunnel and stand to watch. I doubt actual faces will be visible due to the camera angle, but we will see. I propped myself up against the wall and watched and the boys cracked the gags and the people listened.
7pm and we had finished. The crew were dismantling the lights and cameras, Victoria had left and a few of the extras were walking the tunnels taking pictures. A quick change and that was it. My day as an extra had come to an end.
As our clothes slowly turned from 1941 to 2010, I couldn’t help asking myself where it all went wrong. For meat least, they looked better, were better made and suited the individuals. Not mass produced, copy-cat, cheap rags that make everyone look the same.
Watching as one extra entered a room in 1941 and came out in 2010 was like something out of Dr. Who.
I handed my uniform back, took one last look down the tunnels and headed home.
All in all, a most enjoyable day, but something I think I couldn’t do continually. My time on set was brilliant and something I will always remember.
The drama will be broadcast on New Years Day on BBC2 and having seen the premier a few weeks previously, I am just about visible – if you look very very closely!
About 24 minutes in, in the air raid shelter, walking in front of Ernie.
© morecambeandwsie.com 2010