Sassy Says: Lights, Camera, Sassy!
Written by Sassy Auburn on October 24, 2020
When I was a kid, I had a lot of different professions that I wanted to get into. Unfortunately, my mother had her own plans for what I was going to do later in life. She wanted me in an office setting where my profession would be “stable”. I know now I should have made some different decisions. Like thinking for myself. But I was trapped in my own life. Most of my friends knew in their teens and 20s exactly what they wanted to go for after schooling. I grew up not really hearing that I was great at anything so I became one of those people who settled. What a nauseating aspiration. To settle. That is almost as bad as someone being called “mediocre.” I seriously have zero tolerance for that. Yet I lived it for years.
I guess you could say it was a midlife crisis (that I admit I am still in) that made me fill out an online application for a TV and movie background actors agency. This company is contracted to find appropriate people that, when they film in different areas in the United States, they have a pool of people in that might be a good fit. I had been sent a referral from someone who saw my modeling photos online and thought I might be interested in working in the industry. Oh what the hell, I thought. Who would need an old bitchy ginger for film anyways?
Modern Love did. That’s who.
I got a text from the agency saying a part as an extra had come up in the Capital Region for a local filming and wanted to know if I was interested. Basically, this Amazon Prime series came to the area to film a season of their show, and they felt I was a fit for a background part. Whaaaaaat? ME? I was a little surprised to get this. Excuse me… there’s a pandemic going on. How are you going to pull this off? No one is filming anything right now. Like, NO ONE! Still, I responded that I was interested in knowing more. The background assistant got back to me right away and told me everything. They had hired a COVID team to make sure all actors and actresses were safe at all times. This consisted of daily COVID testing, consistent wearing of approved PPE masks and face shields, regular spraying of hand sanitizers and a team on set to make sure any props were wiped down during filming. No one was allowed to work for the day till their COVID test came back as negative. If you were positive? Simple: buh-bye. On set, masks were removed only during a scene shot and when the team shouted “Cut!” all talent had to put masks and shields back on immediately. No shit! They were serious about this. And they were doing it right. Between the suffocating feeling of being stuck inside for nine months and the desire to do something new but still be safe, I clicked the “I accept” button. What the hell.
I have to say, it was the most amazing experience I had ever been a part of. For three days, I was filming in the great city of Troy. The early testing each day was slightly time consuming but I knew it was necessary to make sure we were ALL safe. (And they paid me for that!) I got to work with the fashion department to design my own wardrobe sets from my own closet. A dream come true for me. Hair and makeup said create your own looks that reflected you. Oh hell yes! It was all the things that I loved to write about being put together to appear on film. And I would wear them all myself, being myself.
On set, even the background talent had fabulous assistants who were there for us to help with timing, positioning, cues and any questions we might have had.
I will say that what you see on a TV is a long and detailed endeavor. You watch a 30 minute television show that can take several weeks or more to create. Start times were as early 4:45 am for the mandatory COVID test. Getting into costume looks needed speed and perfection. Plus walking down the street in high heeled boots for three consecutive days definitely took its toll. At the end of that filming, I was beyond exhausted. I ached, my feet were sore, my hands were numb from the cold temps and I was spent. Doing this was nothing like I thought it would be like. It certainly wasn’t Disneyland… it was hard fucking work. But it was AMAZING… and I would have done it again in a heartbeat.
And I did. Three weeks later.
They liked how I did on the first taping and I got a callback to be an extra in another scene. I saw some familiar faces from the first filming, met some new people, and learned even more about this industry. Since this was being filmed locally, I even saw people I knew from ‘real life’! The scenario was completely different from the last one I did. But it was still just as draining and fantastic as the first time. Will I get called back again for a third time? Who knows? But it would be awesome!
Is Sassy giving up her writing and love of makeup & fashion to drive out to California and chase the Hollywood dream? Nah. I like my autumns here in NY too much to do that. Plus the industry is soooo saturated right now, mainly with unemployed talent due to the pandemic. But I will say that if I get a call to play a bitchy, redheaded vixen with a sense of humor? For the right price…. I may definitely consider it.