Monday, January 31, 2011
Making "Deadline" (My Acting Debut Review)
They say art imitates life. A couple of days ago I got to put that old adage to the test when I visited the set of – and made my acting debut in - a movie called Deadline. As the title hints, it’s main characters are reporters.
Not long after stepping onto the set – without much fanfare I might add - I spotted a handsome, 30ish gentleman a few yards away whose presence was creating a bit of a stir.
“Who’s that?” I asked someone associated with the production company.
“That’s Steve Talley,” she replied. “He’s the star of this movie.”
“Reality check 1,” I mentally noted. “While the mention of my name may stir a slight ripple in this small pond called Middle Tennessee, by Hollywood standards, I’m one of those little fish you throw back."
“You mean I’m not the star?” I asked aloud, kind of joking but not really. That question went unanswered.
“Reality check 2: BEING a reporter and PLAYING a reporter are apparently not equal by Hollywood standards.”
There were hundreds of “extras” standing around, hoping to get their chance to appear in a scene. Since most of them knew me from the news, I tried to play up my small part in the movie. I claimed to have a dressing room and had already picked out a tree I could hide behind if I really needed one. Of course Steve Talley and his co-star Eric Roberts had real dressing rooms. I suppose in that case, art does imitate life. I’ve never worked for a TV station that gave me a dressing room, either. I’ve often had to cake my make-up on using our news truck’s headlights to illuminate the tiny compact mirror.
And there are other similarities between making the movie, Deadline and making deadline each day with a news story. Like those “extras,” real reporters sometimes spend hours waiting for something to happen only to have it all break at the last minute when they have to fight the clock to make it matter. And just like the actors, TV reporters seldom get it right in one take. We do the same thing over and over and over again until we’re satisfied with the way it looks and sounds.
The day on the set wore on and I was still awaiting the big moment to tape my short scene. Alas it came. And here’s how it went:
Picture it. Amos, Alabama, a fictional town staged in rural Tennessee. As a group of protesters march along a street in downtown Amos, they walk past me, a TV news reporter as I'm conducting a live interview with one of the protesters. As the man I'm interviewing steps away to join the march, I turn to face the camera (not the one shooting this scene, but the pretend one on somebody’s shoulder so that my role looks real) and continue my report, gesturing and acting like I know what I’m talking about. It sounds like what you’d expect of a real TV news reporter, right? WRONG!
The real star of that scene wasn’t me at all. It was – you guessed it – Steve Talley. The microphone was near him. That important report I was delivering WAS MIMED! Not a sound was coming out of my mouth. Steve Talley and Eric Roberts play the reporters with voices... newspaper reporters... with voices. Hooray for Hollywood!
Eric Roberts; Me; Steve Talley chillin' on the set of Deadline
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not bitter. We all have to start somewhere. And Steve Talley and Eric Roberts are great guys who treated me as an equal. I’m a forever fan of both them.
I suppose the title of this movie is where art most imitates my life: Deadline.
Every real reporter can relate to those.
On a serious note, The folks at Filmhouse - the production company - were also gracious to me. I hope you will go see Deadline when it hits theaters next spring. Click here to learn more about Deadline.