Friday, July 22, 2011

Filming Hank Williams Jr. at Full Sail

Full Sail sent out an e-mail saying they needed extras for the filming of an NFL Monday Night Football theme song by Hank Williams Jr. When I arrived at Full Sail Live there was a small crowd of people outside in their football jerseys. There was a registration tent for media and one for extras. I decided to sign in with the extras. The release basically said that when I entered the film set I would not hold Full Sail responsible for any injuries I sustained. The group of football fans were being lead inside. I quickly signed my life away and ran to get in with them. We all waited in the lobby as a stage hand explained the ground rules. Inside we could hear loud music and screaming. Someone leaned over and said, "Looks like we're missing the party." We were told that we could leave the filming area at any time but we wouldn't be able to get back in. One of the football fans started eating M&Ms from a catering table. Our guide said, "That food is for the paid extras." The M&Ms were dropped.

Once inside I separated from the group and looked for a vantage point to sketch from. I sat up on an empty stage platform and got to work. Most of the time everyone stood around waiting for the filming to begin. I had no idea if I was in the shot or not. I kept thinking someone would tell me to move closer into the crowd. I must have looked like I was part of the crew as I worked furiously on the sketch. Hank Williams Jr. ambled out with his cowboy hat, cigar and big sunglasses. He posed for pictures with a few people then got on the stage which was painted like a football field. When I sketched him, he had his back to me as he sat waiting for the next take.

Finally the cameras were ready to roll. The drummer started playing and Hank strutted around on the stage as cheerleaders danced. People were moving their lips to the lyrics but no one sang. Then sparks began to cascade from the ceiling. In a second shot everyone was warned that there were loud firecrackers above their heads. They were told they were safe as long as they stayed on the near side of a red line on the floor. I was on the wrong side of the line. I glanced up and there was the pyrotechnic device maybe 10 feet above my head. I can sketch under most conditions but this time I decided to move. The explosions were loud and everyone screamed even louder. The director called, "Cut! Alright everyone it's time for lunch." My sketch wasn't finished but I had no choice, the extras were being ushered out. I had no need to get back to the testosterone fueled NFL theme song war zone.

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