Friday, January 28, 2022

My Life as a Village Person on The Walking Dead: World Beyond

Happy Friday! This week's creativity post is about my time on the set of The Walking Dead: World Beyond season two as an extra playing one of the "Village People" in The Perimeter. I worked on and off from February through the beginning of June of 2021, getting about a week's worth of production days and lots of COVID-19 testing appointments, as the production had a rigorist safety protocols to protect the cast and crew, which gave me peace of mind. 

Nicolas Cantu (Elton) reflecting as Herbie and I take a walk...
copyright AMC Productions

I've done a bit of acting in the past, once as an extra on "The Box" (2009) and a couple of independent features, "Cold Readings" (2004) and the lead role as Happy Walter, in "Happy Walter" (2007). I've had one acting class some years ago and really enjoyed it, so have decided look for new opportunities to act. Now being an extra is barely acting as we are literally considered to be "background", moving props filling in space to make things look more natural, but even so, this show was different as they reused many of us to provide some background continuity. I found the gig through Kendall Cooper Casting after some friends saw a local TV news report that they were casting for WDWB, so I submitted my info and was surprised to hear back the same day with an offer to be a "back-up extra", which consisted of getting tested and being ready for production on short notice. After a short time, I was upgraded to an extra and started getting set calls. Anyone who has done this kind of work knows that it's not as glamorous as most people think as there is a lot of waiting around for shots to be lit and rehearsed and often only a few of us would get used in the shot while the others stayed in the holding area. There were a couple of newbie extras who were bored and complained and never came back, I guess it wasn't their cup of tea. For the rest of us, it was wonderful just being on set and getting to learn about production. There were some small moments to interact with the principal actors and found them all to be respectful and encouraging of us background folks. I'm particularly pleased that I'm in a shot with Nicolas Cantu as he and I had a small chat early on in the testing line and after that whenever we crossed paths,  he always gave me a friendly greeting. Another good memory was standing around a campfire at two in the morning trying to keep warm in the sub-freezing February night chatting with Nico Tortorella. One production day begin with Jelani Alladin high-fiving all the background actors and sharing his positive, pumped-up energy. And the last one I'll share was Pollyanna McIntosh greeting us with, "Good morning hard-working background actors!". All kind and generous gestures that were not necessary, but were noticed and made those long production days better. 

In the end, the best takeaway from this experience was meeting and getting to work with so many cool, creative and interesting people, some of whom have become friends. Great to work with Herbie, T.K., Rob, Josh (The Super-PA's), Bernard, Simmie, Barefoot Joe, Catlin, David, Ahmad, Andrew, Patrick, Diana, Rayleen, Brian, and I know I'm forgetting some folks, so all the other extras and crew too!

Here's a short clip of my big moment from episode three! 
(note - short clip, no audio - copyright AMC Productions)