Tuesday, May 13, 2014

My Glamorous Life as a Filipino Bit Player

Bit Player. Talent. Extra. Support. Crowd.

Sometimes, I post on Facebook about my taping/shooting stints.

Some friends be like, "Wow can you bring me there or include me? I wanna see some stars!"

In my mind, it's NO. I don't want them to be angry and think I stole some of their payment like what happened to another bit player who brought her friend. And besides, most of the time, the supplier is not asking me to look for another one.

Now I decided to recount my real life experience.

Sometimes Php 300 for an almost 24 hour taping and the biggest I had was Php 700 for a commercial.
Now I did not make up this story- one of a TV station's guard and other extras told me that the payment should be thousands but it so happened that the payment passed thru "a lot of hands" and I quote them "some of the production staff, manager, handler, caretaker, coordinator, supplier, the extra who referred you, etc..." I even experienced on an out of town location that they told the locals they filmed that they would just send the payment thru LBC. Good luck with that! The people who called them didn't even get their address!
(Update: Then there's this one time when the taping was already packed-up. Other talents were already paid, but our sorry group had to wait about 3 hours for someone who was handling the money.
During my first time, I heard some of my fellow newbies who came from a 'segway' were compensated with a pack of toilet papers. Can you believe that?!)

As far as I know, there are no additional benefits (like SSS) even for regulars.

Call time-
One time, I got awakened by a call at 3:30 in the morning asking me to go to a far location for a 5:00 AM shoot on which I am almost certain that the actual time when I would be included in the scene would be around 12:00 noon. One time, call time was morning and yet they filmed me at 10:00 PM.
An incident happened when we were called to get ready and re-apply our makeup. We weren't called. After an hour, we were called to attention again and we retouched. Nothing happened still. It went on about 5 times. Imagine what layers and layers of powder will look on your face. Cakey. Not to mention it got tiresome.

No additional payment for bringing your own costumes e.g., a doctor's. Sometimes we are required to bring 3 sets of 3 different wardrobe- smart casual, office, gown.

Speaking parts-
Additional money for lines.

Sometimes, we have chairs. Often, we sit on the floor. We are lucky if the location is an air-conditioned room. On outside locations, I haven't experienced being in an air-conditioned tent . On one occasion, I had to cross to the other side of the street and sit on a store's chair because I don't want to squat on the pavement.

A few times, we ate past the usual eating time. There was even one time when one of the extra had to share the food of another extra friend because "someone" took his food. That "someone" was another extra who was very stubborn and would not leave even though she was instructed to pack up and was not filmed at all because she did not meet the age requirement they were looking for.
Don't forget to bring your own drinking jug! If not, ask to share the other extra's bottle because most of the time, the crew doesn't provide cups.

One should not be sensitive if the director curses or swears at you because it happens.
Getting work like this is happy if you want to meet your "idol". Sometimes, you will be dismayed to find out that your seemingly cheery and friendly (in front of the camera) favorite actor/actress is not at all how he/she behaves in real life.

Some concerned talents are pushing for a change. Sadly, it is not well supported because other talents fear that the TV/Movie management will not hire them anymore.

Sounds incredulous? Well this is like a bio- a true story- and not a fiction. I just want to share the experience and be transparent and honest. Presently, I am not active in this field anymore. It seemed like I got tired of that kind of working condition.

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