The learning curve
The core extras include me, my husband, his friend, his friend’s wife, my brother, his son and daughter, her friend, my sister’s daughter, my two friends, a neighbour, my friend’s sister, and my friend’s brother. Our very first scene is the Dungatar-Winyerp eisteddfod. We are dressed in 1950s clobber, our hair and makeup done, our hats nailed on and everything is interesting. We are curious about every accouterment the crew uses, amazed by every ladder and extension cord. We are watery with anticipation, wide-eyed with nerves, anxious to watch the acting and to do well.
We are corralled in the extras tent. The tent for the actors has better chairs.
Someone says, ‘Oh. My. God. Don’t look now, but see who is to my left.’
‘Oh my God, it’s Rebecca Gibney.’
‘Don’t look don’t look but there’s Gyton Grantly.’
‘He’s a great actor, and much more handsome in real life, eh?’
‘Look look! There’s Shane what’s his name.’
‘And there’s Sacha Horler, now SHE can act.’
‘Wait until you see Predestination, Sara Snook, my God…’
We freeze when Kate Winslet appears. Finally, someone says, ‘She’ll be perfect as Tilly, eh?’
Everyone nods and it occurs to me that we have all of the joy and little of the responsibility.
Weeks later, us old hands have been sitting at the wedding reception for hours. It is stifling in the sumptuously draped marquee, our corsets dig, our shoes pinch, the extras on the dance floor are aching and Sara Snook’s white dress is grey from grit. Our trifle has fermented and we remain wary of a large Huntsman that scuttled across the lace napkins and butter plates and vanished under our table. There are super stars to the right, stars to the left and internationally acclaimed actors blanket the set. Every genius, profoundly talented crew member associated with the film – the film based on my book, the film that has changed our lives – is working hard. These dedicated professionals arrived before us and will leave long after we drive away in our air conditioned cars, and they conduct themselves superbly, seem undeterred that they carry the success or failure of this vastly expensive and trickily complicated project.
Someone calls ‘playback,’ the camera’s roll, the superbly experienced first-rate talent seamlessly execute the tragic climactic scene…but then cast and crew stop, gather around the camera, frown at the playback screen. Tom calls, ‘First position again, please.’
I hear myself moan, ‘Oh for Christ’s sake, can’t she just nail this bloody scene!’
Someone else says, ‘I’m starving.’
Another says, ‘That was good enough, I just want to go home.’