Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be a Hollywood star? How would you feel strolling on the red carpet as flashbulbs popped and adoring fans called out to you on Oscar night?
Late last summer, Julie Smith called and said her cousin was in Kershaw County filming a movie and one of the actors backed out and they were looking for someone to play a small part. She asked if I would be interested and gave me a phone number. I called and went for my screen test under the Wateree bridge. They took several pictures and said, “We will call you.” They did not offer me a phone number.
Since I had all of my teeth, spoke English, and stood mostly upright, they asked if I could possibly be available the next afternoon. On my way home, I am thinking with the right break people would forget all about Clint Eastwood. When I got home, I thought I might do some sit ups in case there was a nude scene. The good wife would understand that it is just art.
They called and asked me to join them at 5 p.m. at Hofield Farm and said they wanted me to play the part of an 80-year-old grandfather. I am glad I did not do the sit ups. I practiced my Grandpa Amos limp.
Arriving promptly at five bells the next day, I arrived and walked up to one of the crew members and in my best Clark Gable “GWTW” voice introduced myself. She replied, “Oh, you are the talent.” I replied that I am Buster and she countered and again said that I was “the talent” and for me to go to the large van for makeup and wardrobe.
I entered the van and announced myself to the crew and three members replied, “Oh, you are the talent.” Looking perplexed, they explained to me actors and actresses are referred to as “the talent” while on a movie set. Now I am thinking that my soon to be new good pal Russell Crowe and I will just share a limo next year at the awards.
Production at another site had gotten backed up, so I had the opportunity to talk with the wardrobe and makeup crew. Their profession is demanding and they have a vagabond lifestyle. The job is fast, complex, hectic and has scores of contingencies. The personnel ranges from producers, directors, grips, technicians and crew members delivering fruit and water.
After modeling six shirts they finally settled on a pressed shirt which was quickly wrinkled and sprayed with fake perspiration. The makeup crew put on powder so I would not glow on camera. After the makeup was applied, I think that after the Oscars I will just make a cameo appearance at the post parties then Sean Connery and Kevin Bacon and I will get together and have a few drinks and chuckles over our acting careers.
When it came time for my first scene, I noticed more than 30 crew members and learned the director was “the man.” When the lights, camera, action cue was given, there was such a total silence you could possibly hear the grass bending.
My first scene was to walk to a designated spot, take a off a bag, remove my hat, wipe my forehead, and then turn and walk away. After six takes, each scene was concluded with a “good: or a “nice.” They wanted to simplify, so they took out the part with the bag and after another six takes and a couple of new perspiration sprays, they told me to just turn my back to the camera and take off my hat, wipe my brow and walk off into the sunset.
After one take, they said that this is perfect and that is a wrap. It is nice to know that my best feature is the back of my head and that I am starting to think that these people may not know real talent when they see it. I wonder if this is how Gary Cooper got his start?
My second scene was to carry a box loaded with four watermelons and three cantaloupes a distance of 6 feet and to set it down on a table. After the third take, the perspiration lady could have taken a nap. I was producing plenty. After a half dozen takes, they were making a change in my route when one of the assistant yelled that the “talent” needs some water and two young ladies hustled up with water bottles.
My acting career as a “talent” ended after a few more takes and I never got a speaking part. I think they are only making talkies these days. Oh well, I probably would not like living in California.
Up until this fun afternoon, my only movie experiences are that I once double dated with the actor who played a boy in “To Kill a Mockingbird” and as Jimmy Stewart's son in “Shenandoah,” and also Kathy and I once met guy who had his boat in a scene of a movie starring Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman. The young man said that he had to sign a contract that stated that he could not look or speak to the “talents.”
I think I will put that clause in my next film.
The production company was Mad Monkey Productions and the film was a promo film for Kershaw Health. Since the hospital has been sold, they have stopped showing the clips. I was hoping to see the back of my head.
Think you for your attention.