Nearly Death

Here, a gift from the universe. A job, out of the blue. On second thought… sorry. It’s not for you.

Twice in one week. A job offer came in and was withdrawn in the time it took me to return the call. Seriously. Twice. In one week. What is the point of having opportunity play ring and run with me the first time, let alone the second?

On Tuesday, I got a message about work for the next day. A union job with a great base pay, as a photo double on The Cape. It’s a show I have not seen, but who cares? It seems I wear the same sizes as one of the actors. The casting person pointed out that it was the last day of filming, which is code for “it will most likely be a long day.” Which means overtime. Lots of overtime. I immediately pulled over to call him back, but got a secretary who said the casting director was on another line. Can she take a message? I knew the job was already gone.

Casting happens so fast now. Even if you wear your smart phone on your wrist, there is no guarantee that you can respond quickly enough to get the job. The guy with a digital receiver implanted surgically has already gotten there first. Even if the job is offered to you and you alone, there is always the chance that in the space between offer and acceptance, it can be taken away.

On Wednesday, I was offered the role of Death. There are many more clever ways of saying that, but I figure the simple truth is arresting enough.

Back in September, I was in a short film produced by a talented teenage crew. The film won second place in an online contest, and now the young producer is working on another project and thought of me to play Death. On stilts. This Friday. The star is some actor from another tv show I have not seen, but again, who cares? It was nice to be remembered, and is always nice to earn unexpected income.

When I called him back to say how thrilled I was, he stammered a bit. He explained that there was a new director on board (in the last hour,) and they would be shooting indoors. How high were my stilts? They might be re-envisioning the role. Plus, they are concerned about finding a costume…

Now, here is where my poor salesmanship works against me. What I should have said was that I have played Death many times, as a singing telegram (for some reason, people think it’s funny to send the grim reaper to the door of a friend who is turning forty,) that I have a fabulous costume hanging in my closet, and that my stilts are adjustable to any height. What I should have reminded myself is that two days is plenty of time to put together that fabulous costume and to figure out how to make myself only a foot or so taller. In fact, as soon as I hung up the phone, I remembered a show I did with an actress who was walking on something like coffee cans. I could easily do the same.

After thinking for a few seconds, I decided to find a photo of myself playing the Ghost in Hamlet and email that to the young producer. My Ghost costume was a long black robe with an opera cape. It would give him an idea of how I might look as Death.

The only problem is that my scanner is no longer on speaking terms with my laptop. I don’t understand it. They used to be such good friends, but now even the most simple statement from one gets misconstrued and feelings get hurt and now they won’t even acknowledge each other. Out come manuals and start-up disks and tech savvy roommates. No luck.

Wait a minute, what am I doing? I have a new smart phone! With a camera. In fact, I have a digital camera. Why send a picture of King Hamlet when I can slap together a Grim Reaper costume right now, take a couple of photos, and send them to the producer? That’s a much better plan.

Since I am used to doing my make-up in the rear view mirror on my way to the gig, five minutes in front of the bathroom vanity is a luxurious amount of time in which to transform myself into the most respectable specter. Taking the semi-sheer black swag down from the curtain rod (yes, yes I know, Nosferatu Von Trapp) and standing on a small wooden stool, presto! Death becomes him.

That was the easy part. The next couple of hours were spent with said tech savvy roommate, smart phone, iphone and digital camera, trying to do what a professional photographer could do in a matter of minutes. After exploring several lighting options without much success, we ended up taking two frames outside, in the courtyard. Both came out great, and one was all I needed.

Photo shop is not something I really know how to use, but I stumble around on it long enough to figure out how to make the background fade to white, then play with the shades of black until I have an image not unlike Madonna flying over the Doberman. In her wiccan phase. Off it goes, teleporting electronically into the inbox of the producer, who has by now already cast the role with somebody else. Probably somebody who appeared at his door in a black velvet cloak with scythe in hand on foot-high stilts within half an hour of getting his ring and run call.

Guess Death didn’t come for me, after all.


About anunperfectactor

Actor performer storyteller.
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1 Response to Nearly Death

  1. Tara Martin says:

    Look on the bright side, you know what they say, death takes a holiday so that he can write a blog posting.
    What crossed my wacky brain when you mentioned taking part of your costume directly from the curtain rod was Carol Burnetts parody of ‘Gone With The Wind’ on her old variety show. Harvey Korman’s line about her “dress” being ravashing all the while he’s trying like hell not to crack up, puts a goofy smile on my face when I think about it. If you havven’t seen the skit it’s worth searching for on “the google”.

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