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"Fifteen Days in Hollywood"
Topic Started: August 11 2012, 11:59 PM (1,573 Views)
JonBaas
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"Fifteen Days In Hollywood"
The personal experiences of Jon Baas on the set of the movie, "Mr. 3000".

Back during the summer of 2003, I was cast in a movie that was filming in Milwaukee, Wisconsin titled, "Mr. 3000". It was a baseball movie starring Bernie Mac, and featured my favorite local team, the Milwaukee Brewers. I went down to the general casting site, auditioned, and a few days later, got the call: I was among a handful of people cast -- long-term -- as recurring background talent in the movie. I would be spending the next month getting paid to act in scenes alongside Bernie Mac, Michael Rispoli, and others.

Ultimately, I ended up spending fifteen long days and nights filming various scenes on location at Miller Park (the massive baseball stadium of the Milwaukee Brewers). While I was there, I took notes, and each day/night when filming was over, I returned home to my Milwaukee apartment, and wrote a blog entry about my personal experiences that day. I thought my readers would enjoy hearing what is was like to spend time acting on a big-budget Hollywood movie set.

Below are all fifteen of those blog posts, as re-published from my blog.

But first... it might be helpful to watch the official movie trailer. This will help you understand a little more about the movie -- before you read my my own experiences from in front of the camera:



So....

Now that you have seen the trailer, and you know a little about "Mr. 3000", here are my own personal experiences from the set of that movie. Sit back, read and enjoy! You're not going to find a story like this anywhere else on the internet!

-Jon

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EDITOR'S NOTE:
My original blog entries have been re-published below so they can be displayed and read in top-down chronological order. In addition, my blog format back in 2003 was not set up to feature an individual page for each post, as is traditional now. Therefore, I cannot link to the original journal entries themselves.

If you would like to read my original posts, in their original published format, you are more than welcome to do so on my July 2003 blog archive page, located here:

http://www.jonbaas.blogspot.com/2003_07_01_archive.html

Please Note: Due to Blogger error, my original "Day One" post could not be published in my blog archive. I have, however, published below for your convenience.
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Day One -- Monday June 30, 2003

The day started out early -- very early. Luckily, I had gone to bed early enough the night before. Having set my alarm for 3:30 AM, I was up and ready to make a 6 AM call.

I awoke early, both to ensure I could shower and be ready for a full day of filming, and to allow me ample time to get to Miller Park some fifty blocks away. As it turned out, city buses don't run that early. So, I walked -- fifty blocks.

I got there right about 6 AM, as planned. Surprisingly, the hour and a half walk hadn't tired me out. So I signed in, got my casting employment papers, and awaited further instructions.

Not long later, those of us that had arrived for the 6 AM call were led through the stadium to our holding area. Here we were briefed on what would happen during the day, and then asked to wait. Waiting is part of the game in the film industry. I can handle that.

I was surprised by the number of "off the street" people that were there. Most of the 200 extras were just people interested in being in a movie. They'd all signed up way back when, and were selected for various reasons by the casting crew. Unfortunately, most of them had no idea what to expect.

I actually had to chuckle at some of the conversations I was overhearing. This is my fourth film -- fifth if you count the independent film I've got a character role in. I knew what to expect. Most of the others there, though they'd been told many times, didn't seem to want to believe that the film industry really isn't always glamorous. As a result, many of them weren't too keen on sitting around waiting, and, unfortunately, they were usually pretty vocal about it.

I did see a few other people I've worked with in the past. Like myself, though, all of them were doing the same thing as I was -- making the best of a rare acting opportunity here in Milwaukee. Over the course of the day, I also met a professional comedian who has performed with other celebrities all across the Midwest US (including on Comedy Central). I met an interesting African-American woman who teaches theater at a local high school, and I also met a few other actors who made for some fascinating conversation. I appreciated being among others who actually spoke 'actor talk'! It made me feel a little more at home and at ease with myself.

Eventually -- after a little waiting -- and after the shots had been set up on the field, we were all called down to take up various background spots. Over the course of the day, those 200 or so of us would populate most of the stadium. It's the magic of filming a movie, really. If you take the time to look VERY closely at the finished film, you'll likely see the same people over and over again all over Miller Park.

You'll also see hundreds of our fellow non-living extras as well.

Yes, overall, including the 200 of us live extras, we probably only accounted for twenty percent of the total background talent present. The other eighty percent were cardboard cutouts, and only about a dozen different kinds at that. That means that when the film comes out, there will be dozens of the same 'person' in any given scene. But, of course, when you watch the final film, you'd never know that! Just another little trick of the trade.

It was a nice day though to be sitting around the stadium. The retractable roof on Miller Park was open, and the sun shone down on the field. Over the course of the day it would move across the field, or hide behind a cloud. Of course, for continuity-sake, the production crew had to halt filming a couple times in order to wait for the sun to come out again. It was certainly amusing, but probably not the best for their budget. To be honest, though, for those of us sitting in the stands, the sun did feel better when it was behind the clouds. It wasn't so much the heat that was uncomfortable... it was the direct sunlight.

Today (Monday), Bernie Mac was on set filming. We filmed only two scenes all day from many different angles. The first was of Bernie Mac's character, Stan Ross, gaining his 2999th hit. The second was that of a another Milwaukee Brewers player foolishly getting picked off at first base. It took eleven hours to film those two scenes -- but they will only be a few minutes long in the finished movie. That's how it works in the film industry; hours of filming for a just a few minutes on screen.

Bernie Mac himself was actually a joy to work with. He's quite humorous in person -- as well as on-screen. When he first came out onto the field to film, he got a round of applause from those of us in the stands. He happily acknowledged us, thanked us, and inquired how we were doing. He's a nice guy. During the rest of his on-set time, he made a point to interact with us in the stands with his wit or a friendly response. I appreciated that, especially considering his need to remain focused on his filming duties. It goes to show that not all Hollywood stars are as jaded as they are made out to be. Mac was in a field of his own; He was polite, respectful, and genuine to everyone. I liked that.

It was a little strange seeing Bernie in a modern-day Milwaukee Brewers uniform, though. Certainly not because it didn't suit him. No, rather, I've just seen him in other non-sports roles. He doesn't come to mind right away as a sports character. The uniform fit him well, it's just that two months ago, I would never have expected to see him as a Milwaukee Brewer!

I'm a dedicated Milwaukee Brewers fan in real life, whether the team is horrendous or not. This is actually the first Hollywood film -- that I know of -- that depicts the Milwaukee Brewers and Miller Park as just that, the Milwaukee Brewers and Miller Park. That alone is pretty exciting! Think about it, the Milwaukee Brewers, one of the saddest teams in baseball lately, are featured in a big box office film! Why? Because of filming convenience. Other movies have been filmed on Brewers turf, sure, but it's always been some other team depicted, such as, for example, the Cleveland Indians in the popular "Major League" films. Maybe I am just odd, but finally seeing the Milwaukee Brewers in an integral role, in a notable film, that makes me smile.

But, anyway, I digress....

By the time filming was done for the day, I'd met many people, most of them made of cardboard. I'd enjoyed a surprisingly delicious (free) lunch, met Bernie Mac, spent my first visit inside the spectacular Miller Park since it was built, and made my way into some excellent shots. What more can you ask for? What better job is there?!!

When the call, "That's a wrap," rang out through the empty stadium, I collected my things, turned in my employment paperwork, and set out for home. This time, since it was early evening, I was able to catch a bus back those fifty blocks. That was much appreciated. Eleven hours of intermittent spurts of genuine excitement when the shot was up, can really wear the body down. I still had my voice, but my body was screaming for sleep. When I got home, I had dinner and went to bed. I slept for eleven hours.

And, that was Monday; day one of eleven filming on the set of a major Hollywood film. Exciting and often slow, but always interesting. That's what I like, though, about the film industry. There are so many extremes, and never an un-exciting moment. Then again, you're hearing all this from an actor. I'm probably a bit biased. :)

My next day on the set is scheduled for Wednesday, July 16. After that, I'll be on set nearly every day for the rest of the month, and working with the likes of Bernie Mac, Angela Bassett, Dondre Witfield, Brian J. White (from the series, "The Shield"), Paul Sorvino, and so on. I'm looking forward to it.... immensely!

Keep right here. I'll be sure to write about all the days on-set to come. And I'll be sure to let you experience the whole thing vicariously through me, your friendly acting friend.

So, take care all, and until next time,

Your happily blogging actor friend,

-Jon
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Day Two -- Monday July 14, 2003

Ah, the things I do for my craft. Some may say it's insane to sit around in an empy ballpark and pretend to enjoy a baseball game the doesn't exist. Others may think me crazy to actually want to do this, but the truth is, they're all right. I am insane. I am crazy. But I am also an actor.... insanity is really just part of the job.

So, day two working on the set of "Mr. 3000" is now behind me. Overall, it was a slow, plodding day, much moreso than day one. But I did find ways to have fun, and stay awake.

Thankfully, since I had a 7 AM call time, taking the bus out to Miller Park made the fifty-block trip a breeze. I got there with plenty of time to spare; and no long walk this time!

Unfortunately, as it turned out, my early arrival didn't make much of a difference. I still sat around for the first five hours. The production crew filmed one scene from many different angles, but didn't need everyone in the shot. I just happened to be one of the people they didn't need. So, I sat around, prepared (as any good actor should), played solitaire, read a book, and, get this, even got in a short nap! And, I still got payed for all that 'work'. Heh! Granted, filming in a movie is not always this laxidaisical, but hey, I certainly won't complain when it does happen this way!

Finally -- five hours or so into the day -- I was needed. So I grabbed my props, headed down to the field, and joined the fun. Unfortunately, they were still filming the same scene -- the on-field MLB retirement ceremony of the protagonist (Bernie Mac's character). They were still grabbing different angles and takes of the scene, and I found myself in most of them.

By the time 7pm rolled around, they had finally wrapped the scene. It just so happened that it was the ONLY scene they had worked on for the past twelve hours (with the exception of a small crowd reaction shot). The process ended up making for a very long day. Interesting... but long.

They did -- once again -- feed us well for lunch. Juicy beef, seasoned potatoes, salad, vegetables, pasta and sauce, cake, multiple beverage choices, etc. A lot of planning seems to have gone into the production of this film. All of us, from Bernie Mac down to the various extras, have been treated very well, and the production crew seems dedicated to the well-being of everyone, no matter who they are.

Honestly, with each film that I'm part of, the production effort seems to get better and better. Of course, that could just be my own unique experiences. I'm sure there are plenty of disgruntled workers in the film (beyond the inexperienced, perpetually complaining, off-the-street extras), but overall, they seem to be hiding.

It was interesting to see the 'stars' in action. Bernie Mac again made a point of stopping by to see the rest of us, shaking hands, chatting, cracking jokes, and generally inquiring about our well-being. He didn't have to do that, but he seemed as though he wanted to. I'm really starting to appreciate the guy. He comes across as a real class act.

Another star in this film is Chris Noth, a Madison, Wisconsin native. (He is perhaps most well known for his role as Mr. Big in the cable series, "Sex in the City".) Today, on set, he took to tossing the ball around on the field with the crew when filming was down, and while shots were being set up. As a result, he ended up entertaining the rest of us -- cheers, boos, and all! He seemed to enjoy the attention too, quite often playing along. He's another friendly guy, although, a bit out of shape when it comes to playing baseball. He plays a non-ballplayer role in the movie, so I suppose he's ok in that regard.

When the filming finally came to a close, and we were let go for the day, a lot of tired, exhaused, and (in some cases other than my own) annoyed extras set off for home. For myself, it was a short bus ride, a few errands along the way, a small, late dinner, and then bed. Seven hours later, I'd be on-set again for another full day of filming.

-Jon
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Day Three -- Tuesday July 15, 2003

Today was a nice rebound from the long, drawn out day that Monday had been. Things went by much more rapidly.

I arrived for a 7 AM call again, signed in for the day, and made my way into the holding area inside the stadium. I was one of the first people there for the day, and, apparently, one of the first to get breakfast. They had served breakfast the previous two days as well, but I hadn't really payed much attention. So, today, I took advantage of the opportunity, and grabbed some cheesy scrambled eggs, sausage links, orange juice, etc. It was a good breakfast, and a great way to start the day.

Not long after breakfast concluded, and all of us scheduled to report today had showed up, we were taken into the stands and began filming. The first scene must have been a day shot, because when I looked up, the massive Miller Park butterfly dome was sliding open, and the sun began to pour onto the field. I'd never witnessed the dome opening before, so that in itself was a truly awesome experience.

Of course, with the sun now replacing the lights of the closed dome, the heat rose, and out came the sunscreen. It was still morning, but with a beautiful sunny day outside, the rays from the sun did their part to bake those of us now exposed. That was a little uncomfortable for a while, but it's all part of the job. Despite the complaints I heard from those around me, in my opinion, a little hot sun helps to create a more authentic baseball experience. It made sense to me. I was happy to there, although, I will admit, I probably did sweat a little more than I would have liked.

Before long the scene was wrapped, and we were moved elsewhere in the stadium. When we came back into the stands, the roof was closed, and the stage from Tuesday's retirement scene was being set up again. That must be a really important scene.

I guess they needed some additional footage beyond what had been shot yesterday. This time, though, we got to move around a bit more, getting some pretty good views from different seats in Miller Park. My favorite were the seats up in the outfield bleachers, just to the right of the massive scoreboard. I was right by the railing at the top of the section. Man, those are awesome seats! We had a birds-eye view of the field and the filming action near second base. Of course, I'm probably never going to sit in those seats again in real life. But it was certainly fun while it lasted!

After a few more takes, it was lunch time. Again, the meal was delicious. This time we had fried chicken, buttery mashed potatoes, shell pasta and sauce, peas, salads, garlic toast, beverages, and to top it all off, apple pie and ice cream! I tell ya, the food service outdid themselves yet again. If you get in on the right opportunity, they feed you well.

After we all ate, and a few scene moves later, we ended up located directly above the outfield wall for a home run scene. One of Bernie Mac's teammates, played by Brian J. White (who I guess is a pretty good ballplayer in real life), was the featured 'hitter'. We were the crowd reaction shot out in dead center. I found myself standing on one of the wedges of the outfield concourse that extended out over center field. The roof opened again and the late afternoon sun shone down on the field, casting dramatic shadows across the ballpark interior. From that vantage point, there was no place in the stadium that I could not see. Of all the places I've been seated in Miller Park during filming, this one has surpassed them all!

In terms of the filming for that center field scene, the home run that was hit, was actually a shallow flyball to the San Francisco Giants "player" in left field. He caught it easily, however, through the magic of movies, you'll think it was a deep home run shot. It was certainly a nice hit by Brian White, but not quite far enough to look as good as it will in the film. It was easily caught, but we cheered wildly as if it was long gone!

After that scene, a few more scene moves, and a number of on-field shots of Brian rounding the bases for the home run, the day was a wrap. By the time we all signed out, I'd clocked nearly a thirteen hour day on set. I caught my bus, and was home not long after. In a rare occurrence while filming this movie, I'll actually have plenty of time to make dinner, eat, relax while watching a little TV, and then get ten hours of sleep. Then I'll still have six more hours of free time before I need to return for a 6 PM call on Wednesday. I doubt my filming schedule will work out quite like this again.

But hey, that's fine with me. I'm getting payed to do what I enjoy, and even if most of my fellow 'off-the-street' extras don't seem to have a single acting bone in their bodies, I'm planning to make the most of this opportunity. I've even gone so far as to develop distinct characters for each scene that I'm in. I don't have to, most of those characters will never be seen, but why not, right? Afterall, I am on stage and in front of the camera. It's all about being someone else and helping to tell a story in the process. I'm more than happy to play my part, whether I actually have lines, or not. It's my job. It's what I love to do.

Oh, and before I forget, I may have gained two more paid days on-set. That would bring me up to fifteen. One of those days -- this Friday -- will involve at least 20,000 volunteer extras (real life Brewer fans who will stay after an actual Brewers game), and will be used in wide-angle camera shots of the entire stadium. That should be interesting. I'm still waiting on official confirmation on those extra two days, but I should hear sometime tomorrow.

For now, though, I think I'll sign off. I've got two more hours of free time to take care of a few things, and then I need to return to the set for an overnight shoot.

Take care all, and I'll see you upon my return. :)

Your happily blogging actor friend,
-Jon
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Day Four -- Wednesday, July 16, 2003

Today actually ended up being a shorter day on-set -- shorter, at least as far as filming a Hollywood movie goes. Normally a day of shooting lasts 12 hours on average. Today I was only there for eight.

There was a group of people called earlier than myself, starting at 1 PM. I, however was in the 6 PM group. After having heard how much inactivity the first group saw, I was glad to arrive later. Things were slow, but bearable.

When I arrived at Miller Park, I was just in time for dinner at 7 PM. Good food again -- this time chicken breast. I made a point of stopping one of the cooks and complimenting him (and his fellow staff) on the exceptional food we'd been served the past four days. He seemed genuinely impressed that someone even bothered to do so. I guess no one else had thought to say "thank you" for the delicious FREE food we were enjoying. I appreciated the cook's jovial response, but I was also a bit saddened at how outwardly ungrateful most of the other extras seemed to be. How hard is it, really, to be thankful for all the hard work the production staff and crew are doing to make our involvement in this project all the more comfortable? That just seemed odd to me.

So far, during filming, many of the extras regularly complain about their boredom during the shoots. Others, heckle the actors and crew, sometimes in an inappropriate way. Others even make lewd remarks at the looks or mannerisms of others present, and a good deal of the younger lewd/rude inner city teens don't conduct themselves anywhere near the level of professionalism being asked of them.

I sympathize with the crew. I can see their frustration with many of these people. I'm just waiting for the day when these rude extras are finally removed from the set, permanently. Bad behavior like that is uncalled for. If it was up to me, I would send them packing. And I wouldn't care less to see them go. Some people are trying to take this opportunity seriously and have fun with it.

I find that I can split all of us background talent into two sub-groupings. There are those who are off-the-street and are just there "for the easy money", as I often hear them say. And then, there are the actual professionals who are here to learn, experience time spent on a movie set, and make a little extra income in the process. I'd rather work more with the second group. We all have some level of acting talent and experience. We're the kind of people you'd normally see on a movie set. We care about the work.

But anyway, frustrations out of the way, after an unexpected dinner (I had thought dinner would have been served by the time my group was called), we sat around as a number of batting practice scenes were shot, and then we were called out into the stands behind home plate for a few shots of the protagonist striking out.

When those shots were completed -- after a few hours of set-up and additional takes -- the day was a wrap. The crew and 1 PM group had been there for thirteen and a half hours. For them, it have been a very long day. By 2:30 AM Thursday morning, we were let go for the night. We turned in our paperwork, and departed into the darkness for home.

Unfortunately for me, as it was very early in the morning, the city buses hadn't started running for the day. I got to walk home fifty blocks through the quiet streets of Milwaukee at 3 AM in the morning. I had never walked that part of town at night before. It ended up being a cool, slightly breezy walk. I appeared to be only person awake at that hour.

By 4 AM, I was home, safe and sound, but very tired from my 50-block trek. I appreciated the walk, but maybe next time I'll inquire about stowing my bike somewhere in the Park while filming. Fifty blocks goes by a lot faster on a bicycle. :)

Well, anyway, Thursday is past now, and it's time to I prepare for another overnight shoot into Friday morning. Have a blessed day, and I'll catch you all on the flip-side.

Your happily blogging actor friend,
-Jon
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Day Five -- Thursday, July 17, 2003: The Flat Ones

Thursday was a pretty good night on the set of "Mr. 3000". It was slated to be an all-night, overnight shoot, and that it was. My scheduled call was at 6 PM. I eventually would go home twelve hours later at 6 AM Friday morning.

I did my regular routine, getting as much sleep as possible (though lately, usually always less than I'd like), and them hopping a bus down to Miller Park. I arrived with time to spare.

I tried something different though, and found a shortcut for part of my trip. This walk, a few blocks from my bus stop to the Park, took me right past Haelfer Field, a Little League ballpark built right next to the new Miller Park. The intriguing thing about this Little League field is that it's built on the very spot that used to be the infield of old Milwaukee County Stadium -- the original home of the Milwaukee Brewers. As I walked past, I couldn't help but think of the irony that of this acting opportunity provided.

On September 9, 1992, when I was twelve years old, I was in attendance at the old County Stadium, to watch my hero, Milwaukee Brewers hall-of-famer, Robin Yount, get his 3000th career hit. I will always remember that day. My dad and I rushed to the game, already a few innings late, yet, by sheer luck, we arrived just in time to see that now-famous hit in the bottom of the seventh inning. That game became one of my favorite childhood memories, and it's still firmly imprinted within my mind.

Now, today, as I walked past that little league stadium, I recalled those memories. Then it occurred to me, as a kid, I was excited to see my favorite ballplayer hit his 3,000th hit -- a significant feat in baseball. Little did I know then, eleven years later, I would be part of a Hollywood film, featuring a fictional Brewers player striving to hit his own 3000th hit! It's an opportunity dripping with irony, but man, what an opportunity!

Still smiling from the irony of my realization, I arrived at my assigned Miller Park entrance, signed in, and prepared for another long, drawn out night shoot.

That night, as I sat in there in the stands surrounded by cardboard people, I mused upon a few unusual events unfolding before me:

1.) The "steady-cam" is one really cool piece of film-making equipment!

2.) A friend to chat with and keep you company makes the time go faster. And, if that person has a healthy dose of sarcasm, the time goes by even faster. That poor actor portraying the pitcher of the Houston Astros in the scenes we were shooting tonight, was having his character created for him by my friend and I. If only he knew the backstory we were creating for him! Poor guy. Good times. Good times. :)

3.) Cheering repetitively, and engaging in short bursts of genuine excitement can be very exhausting. Thankfully, one of the characters I created for myself during those takes was a fan of the opposing team -- the Houston Astros -- and NOT the Milwaukee Brewers. After a while, I saved myself a lot of energy by staying seated each time he got his 2998th hit!

4.) Flat people (generic 'seat-filler' cardboard cutouts that can double as fans sitting in the stands of sports stadiums), are nearly indistinguishable from live fans sitting near them. Up close they clearly look like multiple copies of 12 different cutouts, but from a distance, and mixed in with live people, they look just like everyone else. If you're not careful, you might mistake one type of fan for the other.

Oh, yeah, and those cardboard baseball fans are extremely loyal fans. They rarely saying anything, and they're more than happy just to sit around doing nothing all day. They're also far more well behaved than many of the "I'm just here for the money" extras.

5.) And lastly, did I say how nice of a guy Bernie Mac seems to be? I may have to make a point of seeing more of his film and television work once this movie is over. Working with him has helped give me an even better impression of the guy.

Anyway, later in the morning, as I sat doing my thing, I noticed another neat picture playing out before me. As I was sitting up a few rows behind home plate, I observed the fictional baseball ballplayers down on the field. They were college ballplayers, dressed up from head to toe as professional baseball players. They weren't passing the time throwing a baseball around, though, no, they were instead tossing deep passes to each other with a football. It was an amusing picture to say the least -- baseball players running out in the outfield of Major League ballpark, playing football. I get the impression many of these guys are (or were) multi-sport athletes in college. Perhaps even semi-pro. Nonetheless, it's still not something you see every day!

Later, when the long twelve hour day had been wrapped, and my acting wages earned, I departed for home. Unfortunately, I would be in for only six hours of sleep, if I was lucky. My Friday call time is 4 PM. I'm scheduled for another all-night shoot.

-Jon
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Day Six -- Friday, July 18, 2003: En-masse!

Friday was perhaps the most exciting day for me on-set so far, and for a number of reasons. It was another all-night shoot, but also a HUGE event involving 25,000 additional unpaid volunteer extras.

It actually felt like a real-life game day. For most of the evening, us paid talent got to sit in the expensive luxury seats in the stadium -- apart from the thousands of volunteers down in the stands. For the first time during filming, 200 people and countless cardboard cutouts were no longer filling up the ballpark. Instead we had 25,000 live people sitting shoulder to shoulder. Considering the scope of this project, that was pretty impressive!

My call to show up was 4 PM. I had gotten about six hours of sleep, after a long, slow twelve hour shoot only a few hours before. I had been told too that, because of the additional thousands who were likely to show up, I was to proceed to the regular talent sign-in area, but not to expect dinner. So, as suggested, I brought some snack food with me to last through the night. When I checked in and got my paperwork, however, I was greeted with dinner. Hamburgers and fries. I didn't mind; that was more than I had brought.

After dinner, we were all broken down into our assigned casting groups and taken to the first seating location for the night -- in my case, the lower deck 'Beerpen' seats directly above the right field wall. From this vantage point we sat watching across the field as the thousands of general extras slowly filled the upper and lower deck seats behind first base, third base and home plate. When all was said and done, the infield seats were nearly full.

The energy in Miller Park seemed to just hang in the air for a few hours, and the excitement of 25,000 fans reverberated off the beams of the closed dome. The anticipation of twenty-five thousand people waiting to see Bernie Mac seemed to grow as more and more fans arrived in the stands. When Mac finally walked out of the Brewers dugout onto the field, the stadium erupted with a deafening roar of applause. Mac, in true form, went over, shook a few hands, said a few words, grinned widely, and greeted as many fans as he could.

When the picture was up, we did a few crowd takes of Stan Ross's retirement speech (that we'd worked on a few days prior in other shots) and then Bernie departed the field to go change into his Brewers uniform.

While he was gone, and the next shots were being set up, two 'entertainers' revved up the throng of fans, and provided what I thought was less then humorous entertainment. Throughout the day expensive prizes were given away to the unpaid fans -- everything from digital cameras, palm pilots, an autographed Brewers jersey worn my Bernie Mac on a previous day of filming, televisions, and the top prize, a PT Cruiser (which ironically, I heard had been won by a ten-year-old kid at the end of the night. Go figure.).

Later, after Bernie returned to the field, and additional crowd-oriented scenes were completed, all of us paid talent were moved up into the third level of seating in Miller Park -- the luxury "Club Level".

Here the concourse was carpeted, there was an attractive lounge and hardwood bar area, massive glass windows looking out over the expansive parking lots with attractive views of the city, and large high-quality black and white framed prints of all the Major League Baseball stadiums (including many of the old classic ones) lining the walls. The luxury skyboxes were also on this level. With the doors opening onto the carpeted concourse, the whole stadium level looked a lot like a classy hotel. Stadium attendants were even posted at the glass-door entrances, restricting access to those who did not belong. This was the luxury level of Miller Park, a place I will probably never be able to afford in real life.

We ended up sitting in the few rows of stadium-style seating -- just in front of the luxurious skyboxes. These were, by far, the best seats in the entire stadium! Which, I suppose, is why they cost so much. :)

Later, as we sat in those luxury seats, there was some downtime while another scene was being set up down on the field. I happened to be sitting next to one of the female cardboard cutouts, so I casually put my arm around her cardboard shoulders and sat there comfortably taking in the aura of the stadium. To entertain the thousands of volunteers, a stadium camera was panning the crowd, and showing it's footage on the massive video scoreboard. At about that time, it settled on me, and caught me relaxing with my arm around a cardboard girl. There I was, chilling up on the Miller Park scoreboard with my cardboard girlfriend. The 25,000 fans in the stadium seemed to enjoy the scene, and I got a good laugh too. Definitely an entertaining moment!

That may well be the largest live audience I've ever had at one time! Completely unrehearsed, intimate, and oh so fun!

After another location move, and more waiting and watching, we were released from the set for a late dinner. Again, I wasn't expecting to be fed. I thought the hamburgers had been our meal. Nonetheless, when I re-entered our holding area, there was more food waiting for us. This time, a feast. Literally. Sliced turkey, gravy, stuffing, cranberries, even pumpkin pie! The catering service outdid themselves yet again! And, once again, it was delicious. It also hit the spot, providing me with additional energy to perform for the rest of the night.

A few more crowd-oriented scenes later, which included far too much annoying downtime "humor" from the main 'entertainer', and the day was a wrap. The prizes had been given away, and the thousands of volunteer extras started streaming out of Miller Park. It was 4 AM Saturday morning. We'd been there all night -- over 12 hours.

Luckily, I have Saturday and Sunday off from filming. I can spend those days relaxing and catching up on my own projects and sleep. I'll probably need it too. I've been up now for 24 hours straight, and I've only gotten six hours of sleep in the last 38 hours. I think I'm overdue.

But, before I go, you might want to check out the following latest news stories about the filming at Miller Park:

Today in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinal Online:
Filming of "Mr. 3000", Friday, July 18th.

You may also want to check out the Friday news video clip from the Milwaukee NBC affiliate. (Realplayer required). It takes a brief look at the July 18th overnight filming, but from the point of view of the 25,000 fans that showed up. Typical news stuff, but it gives another look at the evening. ... [news content no longer online]

Enjoy! I'm off to bed. Until later,

Your happily blogging, but very tired actor friend,
-Jon
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Day Seven -- Monday, July 21, 2003

No matter what you may hear, work within the movie industry is not glamorous. Even if popular culture makes it look that way. Trust me, popular culture lies. You gotta experience it and make your own decisions. I know. Been there; done that.

That said, today was another long night on the set of "Mr. 3000". It started out fast, but then seemed to slow to a crawl. By hour thirteen, I was feeling the need for sleep again. My eyelids were heavy, and I was having a hard time staying awake. It had been a monotonous, interesting, but thoroughly tiring day.

My younger sister, Rachel, had been cast for the day today too. So she, my friend Dave (with whom I have been hanging around on-set with for the past week), and myself hung out during the downtime. So far, she hasn't been called back on-set until sometime next week, but it was nice talking with her about acting stuff (she's an actor too) while she was here.

Rachel wasn't the only new person to join me on set, so did 750 additional paid extras. Usually there have been no more than 200 of us on any given day. Today, however, brought our total to nearly 1,000.

I won't go into all complaints regarding the presence of those additional new less-than-professional bodies on-set. You already know my thoughts on that. Very few of them knew anything about acting whatsoever. And it showed. A fresh batch of complaining kids who were just there for the "easy money", really grates on me.

But hey, that's what the production company wanted -- fans in the stands. That's what they got. [sigh]

I did, however, meet some interesting people today, who didn't fit that 'off-the-street' mold, and I appreciated that. I met a youthful newly-wed couple struggling to earn a little more income to pay the bills. I met a few elderly or retired people who had little better to do, and seemed to be having a blast at the ballpark! And I come across a number of other actor people whose intelligent conversation and wonderful musings reminded me why I choose to put up with the challenges of this craft.

As it turned out, today, in terms of filming, most of the scenes were set in the 1995 Milwaukee Brewers baseball season (near the beginning of the movie). The scenes we filmed set up the rest of the movie.

I also found it interesting to note the distinct differences in uniforms between 1995 and today, 2003. There have been a lot of changes in uniform design over the last 8-9 years. Not to mention the fact that in 2003, the Brewers are a National League team, playing out of the new Miller Park. In 1995, they were an American League team, playing out of Milwaukee County Stadium.

Obviously with County Stadium torn down, the 1995 scenes had to take place in Miller Park. You'll have to overlook the historical inaccuracy. But then again, maybe digital editing will fix that, who knows. Either way, the uniforms were accurate, and that caught my attention. The costumer did his homework.

Well, I'm tired. I think I going to head off to bed. Have a blessed Wednesday. Until the marrow,

Your happily blogging actor friend,
-Jon
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Day Eight -- Tuesday, July 22, 2003

I arrived on-set this afternoon, a little tired, but in time for my 4:30 PM call. There were a lot fewer people waiting to sign in, so thankfully not another 1000+ extras day like yesterday. To be honest, that was a little insane, and a bit disorganized. Smaller crowds I can appreciate. Fewer people means a less hectic shoot.

In true "Mr. 3000" fashion, a small meal awaited after I signed in. It only consisted of corndogs, baked beans, and so on, but was enough to tide me over until the larger dinner later in the evening.

Ironically, one of the nice things about those small meals at the start of an evening shoot are the donuts. It seems like ages since I last had my favorite -- a delicious raspberry jelly-filled pastry delight. Good stuff! I'll have to be careful, though, not to spoil my appetite. Donuts are just fluff, dinner is the real deal!

By 8:30 PM, I was still sitting around, unused in any scenes. There were scenes filming, involving fans in the outfield bleachers, a pitcher getting hit by a batted ball, probably a home run shot or two. But for most of us, it was just a lot of downtime.

Using this time, I decided to do something different. To keep myself occupied, I started writing. In fact, this very post is one of the things I wrote. I thought I'd record things as they happen instead of a recap once I return home. So far, I think it's working out pretty well. So well, in fact, that, when given the chance, I think I'll just write my remaining journals on the set as well.

Another idea that came to mind for a personal activity during my downtime, is to take my sketchbook with me onto the live areas of the set, and draw what I observe. As an artist, I enjoy drawing, so what better time to take up pencil and paper, right?

By 9 PM, the crew was working exclusively on the scene in which Bernie Mac's character gets his original 3000th hit (at the beginning of the movie). I was called down onto the set, so I grabbed my things and made my way down to the field. Two hours later, after countless takes of hit #3,000, we were back in the holding area for dinner.

I actually found it amusing to watch this particular scene play out over and over. Bernie Mac's character, Stan Ross, is a pompous egotistical ballplayer at the time of this original 3000th hit in 1995. For this milestone, Stan taunts the pitcher, who, in turn fans him with a close pitch, knocking him down. Stan says a few choice words, gets up, brushes himself off, and then lines the next pitch right into the pitcher's gut, doubling him over in pain. Stan runs to first, crosses the base safely, and earns his 3000th hit. A pitiful way of achieving a milestone, yet nonetheless fitting for his character.

Then, the angry pitcher -- clutching his gut in pain on the mound, returns ignors Stan's demand to have the now-famous baseball for his own personal collection, and throws it into the stands behind first base. A young boy catches it, thrilled to have a peice of baseball history. Stan, however, the egotistical jerk that he is (at this point in the movie), goes up into the stands, and snatches the ball away from the youngster.

Having reclaimed his now-famous baseball, and having reached his milestone 3000 career hits, Stan Ross immediately retires from baseball and abandons his team mid-season.

Of course, this scene plays out at the beginning of the movie. The plot for the rest of the film is Stan Ross coming back out of retirement in 2004 -- nine years later -- to reclaim three of his 3000 hits that were found to be part of a statistical error. In the process, he rediscovers his love for the game of baseball, and is forced to overcome the bridges he burned in his youth.

Seeing this 3000 hit scene play out over and over (the part on the field where the pitcher gets hit), makes me wonder what kind of bruises the actor had at the end of the night. Safety is always of utmost importance on a film set. Nonetheless, having a pitching machine fire baseballs at you over and over (to simulate a line drive to the gut) has gotta hurt.

I don't think the crew has filmed the boy in the stands part yet, but I could be wrong. It's just fascinating to watch all the elements come together, and see how detailed the crew is in making all the details fit just right.

By midnight, we'd finished dinner, and things were slow again. I broke out my sketchbook, and captured some of my fellow talent: the girl reading off by herself while leaning up against one of the massive steel beams supporting the stadium. The group of people chatting off in a corner. Etc.

When we got back into the stands, an extra shouted something witty down to Berne Mac. Moments later, he said something funny in reply, and called the wide-eyed girl down onto the field. They chatted for a bit, and then he gave her an autograph. That made her day! Once again, Bernie proved that he's a classy, thoughtful guy.

After a few more takes of the same scene, from a number of different angles, the day was a wrap, and by 6 AM Wednesday we were sent home.

Later today (Wednesday) we will all be back, though. There's an actual home game between the real Milwaukee Brewers and the Houston Astros. I'm not sure how they're going to film during an actual game (since filming has to take second to the game), but I've heard it'll mostly be crowd reaction shots. And then later, more specific on-field shooting.

The cool part is, I'll get to go to my first Miller Park Brewers game later tonight -- for free! The production crew bought tickets for an entire section of the stadium, and they're giving those tickets to us to fill out the stands a bit more. Odds are, we'll probably be moved around as need, but at the very least, we're being treated to free game tickets. You can't go wrong with that!

My next call time is at 8:30 PM. I've gotta grab a shower, get ready, and catch my bus. But I'll be back early Thursday morning to tell you all about the shoot. Stay tuned! Until then, have a blessed evening.

Your happily blogging actor friend,
-Jon
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Day Nine -- Wednesday, July 23, 2003

After eight hours of rest, I arrived at Miller Park for my 8:30 PM call. I signed in and found a comfortable spot to sit in the holding area, awaiting the arrival of my friend.

When he arrived, we tracked down the food tent, and were surprised to find that we were some of the first people to be fed. So, in relative solitude, we enjoyed a traditional Milwaukee sports meal of brats and sourkraut.And I do love brats and sourkraut!

As planned, today was a home game for the real Milwaukee Brewers, only the first of two in July since the All-Star break. That's why the production staff selected Milwaukee for filming. The real Milwaukee Brewers were on an extended road trip, thus allowing the unused Miller Park to be available as a filming location.

When we entered the stadium from holding, the game was already in the top of the ninth -- Brewers 2, Astros 1. We were seated in a section in the upper deck, on the rightfield side, and got to enjoy what was left of the game. Unfortunately, after extra innings -- eleven to be exact -- the Brewers lost 3-2.

During the game, I guess there was even a helicopter filming aerial footage for the movie. With the roof open, they easily captured 22,493 fans -- more than would normally show up for a Brewers home game. After the loss, the real Brewers players went home, and the ticket-holding fans were invited to remain for additional filming. Once again, prizes were given away to those who stuck around. Most of them did, and the lower deck stands (between both dugouts) were filled.

Us talent were moved down into the lower deck to join the fans that stayed after the game. When everyone was situated, the cameras rolled, and we got to see the entire 1995, 3000-hit scene play out on the field uninterrupted. It gave everyone a complete glimpse of the final scene, and allowed the crew to capture long, genuine, uninterrupted crowd reactions from the game fans who had not it before. The whole thing felt oddly real, especially with so many fans watching.

After a few more takes, as well as the awarding of all the giveaway prizes, the game fans were let go, and the only remaining people were those of us hired to be there. By now, it was shortly after midnight.

Dinner came next. Country-style mashed potatoes, broiled chicken, squash, and so on. Once again, very good stuff. It's not the sirloin steak and freshly-restocked buffet that the stars are eating down in the clubhouse. But it's still nothing to shake a stick at!

By 1 AM, dinner was concluded and we were moved to the right field bleachers. It was cold in the stadium. Cold enough that a jacket would have been nice. The retractable roof was open, and an unusually cold summer breeze blew in. Usually it's warm and muggy at night this time of year. I'll have to start bringing a jacket with me on these overnight shoots -- just in case.

As it turned out, all we did for the rest of the night was sit around waiting. That seemed to be the activity down on the field (among the stars and crew) as well. For the next two hours, I never heard them say "Picture's Up", "Quiet on the set", or any of those commands that indicated anything being filmed. It was just quiet. I wondered what the slow-up was, but never really found out. Odds are, the crew was probably reviewing footage, or more likely, filming scenes down in the clubhouse, locker rooms, or tunnels under the stadium.

Sometime around 3:30 AM, the majority of us were let go for the night. We had been scheduled to stay until at least 6 AM Thursday, but they didn't need us on-set anymore, so they let us go. Fifty people stayed longer than I did, but I have the feeling they were let go pretty soon after as well.

In the end, this Wednesday night shoot was an interesting one. I got to see a few innings of a game at Miller Park. I had two meals provided, hung out with my fellow talent, got paid, and went home early. I had only been on set for seven hours, certainly not the typical 12-14 one would expect. But, I didn't mind. I caught a ride home from my friend Dave, finished a few small projects, and then went to bed.

What a life huh?

Have a blessed Thursday all.

Your happily blogging actor friend,
-Jon
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Day Ten -- Friday, July 25, 2003: Meeting some Hollywood notables!

After a suitably well-rested morning, I awoke, caught the bus out to Miller Park, and arrived in time to for my 5:30 PM call. It was a warmer day, with the sun already creeping toward the horizon. Judging by the temperature, it didn't seem like another chilly night would be in store for us. Nonetheless, I came prepared.

After a small meal of cheeseburgers, the waiting game began. Since I had my usual sketchbook with me, I decided to do a little drawing to keep me busy.

I've found that people seem to gravitate to an artist working in a public place. As I sat there, colored pencils in hand, people stopped by out of the blue, complimented me, and seemed genuinely impressed with my work. It felt good to be appreciated for my art, even if I wasn't working on a masterpiece. It fascinates me the way people can become so easily impressed by the skills of others, especially when they don't possess those skills themselves.

After some time occupying myself with my drawings, the call finally rang out that we were needed on-set. The scene would be a tight shot of Stan Ross (Bernie Mac) going up into the stands (in 1995) and rudely grabbing his original 3000-hit ball from a young boy.

As it turned out, my seat location for that particular scene was right on the aisle, in the second row, down by the Brewers dugout. In the film, after the ball is thrown into the stands by the injured pitcher (in 1995), Stan goes up that particular aisle to get it, rudely claiming the ball for his own collection. Bernie Mac goes up that aisle, and, once again, I was right there in on the action.

Before the shot was up, Bernie's starting position was right there beside me on the aisle. Shoulder to shoulder. As we all awaited the familiar "Rolling, and.... ACTION...", I stood there, participating in his friendly banter, listening to his jokes, watching as he exchanged witty conversation with his makeup artist, etc. I was right there, on a Hollywood movie set, interacting with Bernie Mac. That was pretty cool!

What intrigued me most, though, was that I got to see, right up close, the wheels turning in Bernie's head as he prepared for each new take. Seeing that process -- from a more established actor than myself -- was a fascinating learning opportunity!

After a number of takes, and a few more close-up scenes with Bernie, the scene was wrapped, and the production crew began to move everything to their the next location. As I stood there in first row by the dugout, a man from the production crew came up to me:

"Hey, are you the guy with the weblog," he asked out of the blue?

I was surprised, especially to hear that question from a member of the crew. "Uh, yeah, I maintain an online blog," I replied curiously.

"Ah, well I read some of your entries about your work on this film," he commented smiling. "I recognized you from the photo on your website. I actually enjoyed what you wrote. It was interesting to read the experiences of someone in front of the camera. It's not a perspective I get to see things from very often."

"Really," I replied, still a little surprised.

"Yeah. The girl in the production office told me about your weblog and said I should check it out." He extended his hand. "By the way, I'm Charles Papert, the head camera man."

I kept my surprise in check. I had just spent time working with Bernie Mac earlier. Now the head camera man had just come up to me, with compliments about what he'd read on my blog! I was honored, humbled, and excited all at the same time!

I later checked imdb.com for Charles' productions credits. He's been the head camera man for a wide variety of television shows, from "The West Wing" to "Buffy, the Vampire Slayer", even to "ER". He's also operated the camera for such films as, "Crazy/Beautiful" with Kristin Dunst, and "Office Space". Notable, indeed! He struck me as a rather down-to-earth successful guy with a lot of experience and probably a lot of advice. Maybe I'll run into him again on set. I certainly wouldn't mind. :)

Later in the evening, things started to slow down. At one point a fellow extra took the opportunity to climb up on the Brewers dugout and perform magic tricks for the rest of us. I got the impression that he was a professional. His 'act' was entertaining, and his tricks were excellent. Perhaps he'll have an 'encore performance' at one of our future film shoots? :)

Near the end of the morning, and after a few more scenes around the stadium, I ended up sitting next to another professional actor. He used to be a school principal before retiring to pursue his acting career. Most recently, he had finished filming as the character of Donnie Brasco in an upcoming HBO television film based upon the famous historical jewel thief by that name. It's due out sometime this fall, but as I don't have cable, I won't get to see it. It was nice to talk with him about the business though. He had a lot of great things to say.

It was especially interesting to chat with this man because he was a Christian (like myself), and lived in the Milwaukee area, although, he did most of his film work down in Chicago. I was particularly impressed with the fact that he was both a Christian and a successful actor. It gave me a little more confidence in my own future goals. I doubt I'll run into him again, but it was still a joy chatting with him (and his daughter).

By early Saturday morning, we were let go. I was tired, as usual, and when I arrived home, I took a shower and went straight to bed. I slept the day away until I needed to be away for my Saturday evening call.

Acting can be a thrill -- especially when you get to meet and/or work with others in the biz (like Bernie Mac or Charles Papert). Very few careers offer this much interaction, with creative individuals who've seen so much global success. It makes me proud to call myself an actor.... it really does.

Well, I think that's all I'll write about tonight. Sleep is overcoming me. Take care, and until next time,

Your happily blogging actor friend,
-Jon
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Day Eleven -- Saturday, July 26, 2003

Honestly, not a whole lot really happened on-set tonight. My sister, Rachel, was scheduled to join me for filming, but she called in sick. As a result I went alone. Dave, the friend whom I'd met on-set previously also had the day off.

Not long after I arrived though, I stumbled across a former college alumni of mine, James, and we ended up hang on set for most of the evening. James is one of the alumni that recently auditioned with for the upcoming alumni stage production at my college. He's an interesting guy. He's a bit older than I am. He's 30, but despite the 7-year age difference, he and I seem to have a lot in common. We had many interesting conversations, some rather witty in nature, and enjoyed the opportunity to be reacquainted again after a few years.

It was actually a lot more like summer in the stadium this evening. The retractable roof was closed, but the outfield sliding panels were open. Still, most of the time, there was no real breeze. And if there was, it wasn't noticable. As a result sweat was a common issue, and a few hours into the evening it had become too warm for my tastes.

I did find the best place to stay cool though. Miller Park, is a convertible-roof stadium, so when the dome is closed, there's a pressure difference between the interior and the outdoors. If you open one of the main entrance doors, and stand in the doorway, the air rushing in can be quite refreshing! It was was unfortunate that the cool "breeze" didn't make it all the way down to the field where we were filming.

Most of the shoot this evening was a for a fun scene. Do you remember the old "hidden ball" trick in baseball? You know, the one where the ballplayer pretends to return the ball to the pitcher, and then returns to his respective base. When the opposing team's runner steps off the bag to lead off, BOOM, he's tagged out. Sly, but oh so fun to watch! The scene we were shooting involved Stan Ross (Bernie Mac), trying to pull this trick at first base.

Unfortunately, though, as the scene is set on the 2004 Brewers (some time after Stan Ross returns to baseball), you're going to have to wait until the end of the movie to see it. Look for it though. I think it might be a fun moment in the story! And, if you're lucky, you may even catch me enjoying the pick-off attempt from the stands behind first base. I was in the first row.

I find it interesting how many attractive and intelligent young women are at a film shoot like this. I make an effort to be friendly to everyone, girl or guy, but yet, meeting most of these interesting women my age seems to elude me. It's a shame sometimes. I'm not at the filming to 'pick up chicks', but I do have a sense for those I'd get along well with. I have a few days of filming yet, maybe I'll meet some. We'll see.

There were no new Hollywood acquaintances for me today, though. Maybe Monday.

Anyway, as you read, it was a rather slow shoot. I think I covered the most interesting parts. We'll see what tomorrow brings. Take care, and until next time,

Your happily blogging actor friend,
-Jon
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Day Twelve -- Monday, July 28, 2003

Today ended up being another slow day. It also also another cold one. That made sitting in the open-roofed Miller Park a bit uncomfortable. And, stupid me, I didn't bring my jacket. But I survived. My wardrobe usually includes a long-sleeved button-front shirt with the sleeves rolled up. I just rolled them down. That will have to do.

Filming was varied enough tonight that nothing really stuck out in my mind. It really was a slow day.

We did finally get to sit up in the highest level of the stadium, though. Deck four. And although the view of the entire field was pretty good from up there, the seating incline was a little too steep for my tastes. I suppose that's why they call them the "nose-bleed" seats!

On the plus side, though, after being seated up there, I think I can now say that I've sat in every level of seating at Miller Park. Everything from the "season ticket" seats behind home plate, to the outfield bleachers, and now even the $1 nosebleed seats way up at the top of everything.

Neat factoid, huh!? :)

My friend Dave was there today. So he and I hung out most of the night. Shortly after the first meal, we met up with Danika. She's a friendly, though somewhat flirty friend we'd met on a previous night. Throughout the evening, the three of us enjoyed a combination of sarcastic and intelligent conversation. That kept the evening entertaining, especially when there was little going on in front of the camera.

I did find it frustrating, though, in the later hours of the shoot, to see the growing disregard for crew instructions from most of my fellow extras. Granted it was very late, and people were tired and bored, but still. Many of the obnoxious young non-professionals around me had abandoned the concept of respect. They started singing old television theme songs; collectively chanting loud remarks like, "let's go home"; ignoring simple instructions (most of which were to be silent or keep the noise down); and just being... downright unruly. I can only imagine the stress this presented for the film crew. They kept their cool, and I respect them for it. But, again, I would have just kicked those people out and sent them home without pay. You don't act like that at work; why would you act like that on a movie set?

By the time the shoot came to an end, I once again became witness to a massive stampede for the door. Before long, it become a pushy mass of people all trying to be the first to leave. These unprofessional extras complain, cause problems, and rush to leave, yet they all come back the next day. Are they that hard-up for a paycheck? Is that really all they care about? I take this gig seriously. Why there are so many others who do not, boggles the mind.

By the time I had returned home to my apartment, I was happy to have had another day under my belt, but I'm also also tired. Soon I'll be asleep. Then it's back for another overnight shoot in eight hours.

I'll catch you later tomorrow with another exciting recap from the set of "Mr. 3000". Have a blessed Tuesday all, and until then,

Your happily blogging, tired actor friend,
-Jon
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Day Thirteen -- Tuesday, July 29, 2003: Perseverance and Thanks

I arrived at Miller Park on Tuesday afternoon for a 4 PM call time. We'd been told to expect a "special" activity shortly after arrival, although we weren't told what that would be. When everyone had signed in, we discovered that it would be a few sound recordings, or 'wild lines'.

Basically, these "wild lines" meant that the sound crew wanted natural recordings of the crowd chanting the lyrics to "We will rock you...," by Queen. All 1000+ extras (yes, another BIG crowd) congregated just outside the stadium for an outdoor recording. We were actually directed by musician -- Vernon Reid -- the lead guitarist for the '80's band, "Living Color." Apparently he's involved with the sound and music for the film.

After the recordings, and another of the same inside the stadium, we returned to the holding area and had a simple meal of hotdogs, chips, and potato salad.

I had come today, along with my sister (Rachel) who was excited for her second of two days working on set. This was my thirteenth. When she arrived, she joined me in my 'chosen spot' in the holding area -- the same spot I occupy at every shoot when I'm not needed on-set. Shortly after I sat down, my friend Dave tracked me down, and he and Jessica, another friend he'd met last Thursday, joined us as well.

Not long later, James, the fellow college alumni I'd hung out with on-set on Saturday, also stopped by.... He brought good news:

You know that college alumni theatre production I had auditioned for last Sunday (July 20)? Well, I got cast. I will be playing an easy-going husband on his second honeymoon, in New York City; circa 1965. My character is a lead in one of three one-act plays. It wasn't the streetwise thief role I had auditioned for, but I know I'll have fun with this role nonetheless! It also an opportunity to be back on-stage again for the first time in about a year. I've had the itch for a while now.

Anyway...

After more waiting, we were eventually called back into the stands for filming. Scenes would vary, but I think my favorite involved actor Paul Sorvino. In the film he plays the Brewers coach. In this scene, he argues with the first base umpire, and is ejected from the game. Very amusing to watch. Paul is an engaging actor. I can see why he was cast. Normally he plays gangster-like roles -- powerful and full of presence. Here he plays a sudued coach. I'd like to see what he does with the role in the final cut.

After a few more scenes, and a few more takes, it was dinner time. The main dish of choice -- chicken. I find it intersting how often that gets served. Don't get me wrong, I love chicken, and it's always been very good stuff. Maybe it's just cost-effective, I don't know. My favorite food service meal so far has been the tender beef cuts, but I like chicken too.

After dinner, more scenes were shot down on the field. At one point, I was sitting in the stands chatting with Jessica and Dave between takes. Someone in the walkway behind me tapped me on the shoulder. I turned around to see who it was, and found a young woman standing there wearing an access tag identifying her as one of the film crew. She addressed me by name (I had not met her before), she shook my hand, and introduced herself as Heather, the Assistant to the Director!

I was floored! Even the assistant to the director knew me! She mentioned that she's been reading my blog entries about my time on-set, and has enjoyed them. She was even sharing them with the director! Yes, THE director of "Mr. 3000". How cool is that!

A SECOND member of the crew had now gone out of their way to track me down -- in person (in a crowd of 1000+ people). Their sole purpose was to compliment me on my journal! That made me giddy to say the least. What thrilled me even more was to learn that this assistant was not at all that different from myself -- just a determined young artist (screenwriter, in her case) working to pay the bills, and doing something she loved. That impressed me! I like meeting people like that!

I had started out with the idea that, hey, I have a well-read blog, and I will be working fifteen days on the set of a Hollywood for the better part of a month. I've done this film stuff before, only this time, it might be fun to share my personal experiences with others. Not everyone gets to do this kind of thing. I didn't expect to become famous for it, or to have the film crew passing the link around to each other. But now that they have, I feel.... humbled. Honored. Appreciated.

It's a neat feeling. :)

After Heather left, Jessica and Dave (seated next to me) were fascinated by what had just happened. But it was the reactions of the six or seven young people in the row ahead of me that were priceless. They had overheard most of the conversation. When I turned around to face the field, they were staring back at me in awe.

"So, HOW are you so famous?" one of the girls asked.

I paused a moment, not sure how to explain my sudden notoriety. I then proceeded to tell them about what I was doing on my blog. They seemed excited to check it out. Apparently, I now have a fan club! :)

The remaining hours on-set went by quickly. Every once in a while someone would comment about my blog, or joke about my sudden popularity, but for the most part, the moment faded to memory. By the time we were let go and got through the check-out line, it was 6 AM Wednesday morning. It had been a long day, but hardly one to dampen my spirits. :)

Like Heather (the assistant to the director), I'm just a determined actor/artist trying to make a living doing what I love most. Maybe, I am headed in the right direction. Maybe today's surprise events were a little encouragement to keep going. People really do seem to appreciate what I do, and sometimes, they're happy to go out of their way to thank me for it. A kind word out of the blue can go a long way.

It's been a good day on-set. But now I must rest up for another one tomorrow. Have a blessed Wednesday everyone. I'll be back with another entry in a few hours!

Your happily blogging actor friend,
-Jon
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Day Fourteen -- Wednesday, July 30, 2003

After only four hours of sleep, I awoke, grabbed my bus, and made my way to Miller Park for another night under the lights. It started to thunder as I made my way to the stadium. Tonight would definitely be a rainy one.

Just after I arrived, and sat down to a meal of sloppy joes, the rain began to fall. At one point, the power went out to the entire stadium. It wasn't anything too serious, though. Five to ten minutes later, the power was back on again, and our holding area was once again bathed in light. It's not very often that you're inside a massive domed sports stadium when the electricity goes out. It was an interesting experience to say the least.

Later, when we were sitting in the stands for the first scene of the night, I mused at all the snow falling around us. Of course it wasn't snow; it was thousands of tiny knats driven indoors by the rain. As they flew aimlessly above us, the powerful stadium lights reflected off their tiny wings, giving the impression of falling snow.

It was an attractive sight. At least I thought so. Almost everyone else, though, saw them as an annoying irritant. The effect only lasted for ten minutes or so, and then disappeared. That too, isn't something you see every day.

Most of the day's scene were slow and unexciting. Usually we'd be moved to an area of the stadium that was in-frame, hang around for a bit while various shots were taken on the field, and then be moved again to somewhere else. This did little for our restless minds, but it was a blessing when it came to bonding with friends.

That being said, I think it bears mentioning a little about the friendships that have come to be while I've been working on the set of "Mr. 3000".

Dave:
Dave is a fellow alum from my college. With the exception of my freshman and perhaps sophomore years, he was before my time. I hadn't really known him all that well while I was a student.

He and I happened to run into each other during one of the early "Mr. 3000" filming days, and as a result of pure curiosity, we met -- officially. We hit it off well, finding a lot in common, and ended up hanging out whenever we were both on-set. I've come to consider him a good friend. It's actually amazing how much of a friendship can be built when you hang out with someone 12 hours a day for 2-3 weeks! That's roughly 156 hours. Yeah, definitely a good friend!

Danika:
An initial friend of Dave's from an earlier day of filming, I found Danika to be an intriguing character. In her early-to-mid twenties, she has a lot of energy. She has proven to be good company, both in terms of conversation, and pure personality. She's a flamboyant, cheerful and somewhat flirty young woman.

Although I'm happy for her recent engagement, it's bit sad to know that we will probably end up parting ways after we're done working on this film. She lives out in New York City, but is home visiting family for the summer. I have enjoyed her friendship on the set, and wish her luck in the future.

Jessica:
An initial friend of Dave's from one of my day's off during the filming of "Mr. 3000", Jessica, is another fascinating friend. She seems to have a lot in common with Dave and myself. She's also a recent college grad, intelligent, witty, friendly, attractive, and always quick with a smile.

James:
Another alum from my college, he graduated sometime before I started my freshman year, so we only met in passing. However, we met up again at the recent auditions for the Alumni stage production, and then, again, by surprise here at Miller Park.

The days he's been there, we've hung out, joked, conversed, and shared plenty of anecdotes about common acquaintances. Though a couple years older than myself, he and I have a great deal in common. Unlike with Danika and Jessica, though, James and I will be working together on an upcoming stage production. Our interactions can continue, at least for a while.

.......

Beyond those four friends, though, I haven't really gotten to know many others in this film. But, you're probably bored with that stuff.... so, back to Wednesday. :)

Dinner was very good! BBQ chicken breast, some of the best squash I've had in a long time, and some of the best mac and cheese I've ever tasted. Very good stuff. I'm getting spoiled by all of this good food. It may not be the steaks or seafood that Bernie Mac is eating, but for me, hey, I've been eating like a king these past few weeks! I have nothing to complain about!

A few hours later, the day's shooting started to wrap up, and it was announced that we could go home. Once again, most of the extras jumped up out of their seats and stampeded toward the check-out lines just to be first out of the stadium. Inevitably the call would follow, "We're NOT done yet! Sit back down!"

Another scene was shot, and when it wrapped, they all jumped up again, only to be told, "WE'RE NOT DONE YET!!"

Frustrating, yes. The four of us (Dave, James, Jessica, and myself) are old pros. Retaining our limbs and remaining at the back of the massive throng of rampaging youth is better for our health. It's not a good sign either, when the production company has to have police on hand to keep the throngs of unruly young people in check. Seriously. We've had cops on on-site for the past two days. ... [sigh]

Despite the disrespectful extras, though, I'm going to miss the set of "Mr. 3000". It's been a great three weeks. It's been fun. It's been educational. It's been one of the best jobs of my career. Other gigs may eclipse this down the road, but this one... this one will always hold a spot in my heart.

Ah well, enough musing. Off to my last day on-set. I'll post a recap upon my return. Have a blessed Thursday everyone. Until later,

Your happily blogging actor friend,
-Jon
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Day Fifteen -- Thursday, July 31, 2003: The Last Day

Now today was a really cool day of filming!

It was, however, a rainy one. Heavy clouds drifted overhead, and thunderstorms were in the forecast. As I was walking down the road onto the Miller Park grounds (from the street on which my bus traveled), the rain began to fall. More like a sprinkle actually. I had my umbrella with me, although, I didn't think I needed it since the rain was so light. It didn't take me long to realize that this wasn't rain hitting me.... it was millions of tiny knats.

I glanced down, and discovered that I was already covered in a thin film of these annoying little insects. Brushing them off, I opened my umbrella and walked behind it. The knats were so thick, they pelted my unbrella just like raindrops. Their pitter-patter serenaded me the rest of the way to the ballpark.

After I had arrived, eaten a small meal, and sat chatting among friends, we were brought down to the field to start filming. I was part of a small group sitting down by the Brewers dugout. We were being situated as background fans in a closeup shot on one of the main characters (also sitting in the stands). As I made my way down to the field, though, I discovered that those million knats from earlier, had found their way into the closed stadium. The swarm was so thick that everyone in the film crew had put on a surgical mask just to avoid inhaling the little bugs.

Eventually, the knat problem got so bad, the crew decided they needed to take drastic action in order to remove the swarm. Since they couldn't open the retractable roof (because it was raining outside), they settled on a plan that turned off every flood light above the field. The knats were then lured to specific areas of the field (using other lights).... and fumigated with areosol cans of bug repellant. It took a while, but the plan worked.

As the stadium flood lights were turned off, the interior of Miller Park became oddly attractive in the dark. The only lights came from the concourse circling the field behind (and around) us. It was a serene sight. Definitely not something any of us would see anywhere else. A once-in-a-lifetime event.

While the lights were off, someone piped the iconic "Twilight Zone" music throughout the stadium's PA system, setting the mood even more. After a while the music turned to older light rock songs. As we listened, Dave, Jessica, and myself chatted in the dimly-lit ballpark. Down on the field, the crew continued their fumigation project.

After about twenty or thirty minutes, the little bugs were dead, and the massive flood lights slowly came back on above us, one bank at a time. The knats were gone, but the shooting schedule had been set back a bit. On a movie set, time is money, especially when you're on location. Those knats probably cost the production a few thousand dollars.

Now that filming could begin again, the scene would be a number of very tight crowd shots during the last important game of the 2004 season (end of the movie). By request from one of the film crew, I was placed directly into those shots. Yes, it has been confirmed. I will be featured, on screen, in the final cut of the movie. That's pretty cool!

I also found myself sitting there right behind Michael Rispoli (Jackie Aprile on "The Sopranos", and Joey Fusco Jr., the annoying landlord's grown son, in "While You Were Sleeping."). He plays a notable role in the film.

Rispoli didn't say much as he sat in our small group, presumably choosing to remain focused on his character. When he did chat, he seemed like a friendly, thoughtful guy. I liked his accent too. I think it was either New York or Brooklyn, one of the two. I've never been able to duplicate it. But I like it. I like voices and dialects.

Accent aside, Michael Rispoli seemed like a nice guy. He wasn't as outgoing as Bernie, but he was still friendly. It was nice to meet him, and a thrill to work with him in that scene. And a big thank you for the crew that went out of their way to place me into the scene to begin with. That was an unexpected, and thoughtful gesture -- one that person didn't have to do. I am, nonetheless, deeply grateful! :)

Since it was our last day on the set, Dave, Jessica, and myself decided to have a little fun with our attire (when the camera's weren't rolling, of course). We decided to dress up for the day. Dave came in a snazzy 1980's pastel sport jacket he'd found at a thrift store the night before. Very 80's! He wore the part well all day, though, garnering quite a few quizzical looks, and many compliments.

I wore a rather unattractive, multi-colored plaid sports jacket that I had picked up from a college theater department rummage sale a number of years back. I added a brightly colored jester's hat to finish off the look. I got strange looks all day, too and I'm sure I came across as an idiot. But, hey, it was fun. Ya gotta do something memorable and fun at the end of long project like this.

Jessica brought along a colorful tie-dyed shirt. At one point the three of us were walking side-by-side down one of the concourses -- like three Wild West gunmen strolled into a fight. The looks we received were priceless! I'd do that again in a heartbeat!

Today, I also met up with Charles Papert, the head camera man. He made a point to say hi and chat for a bit, and, at one point, he even came up into the stands and met Dave and Jessica. I think they were thrilled. Charles is a nice guy. Down to earth, loves what he does. I admire people like that!

At one point earlier in the evening, while the three of us (Dave, Jessica, and myself) sat in the stands, we met the younger brother of the stand-in for Bernie Mac. The stand-in, a young guy by the name of Marsallis, is already a funny guy, much like Bernie. He and Bernie entertained each other down on the field. When we met Marsallis' brother, it was clear that the wit ran in his family. Either of those two guys could have easily played a younger version of Bernie Mac. It was uncanny how similar they were!

By the time we were all released in the early morning on Friday, and after Dave, Jessica and myself had enjoyed breakfast at IHOP, we parted ways. I'm going to miss being part of the "Mr. 3000" family. It was a wonderful experience; one I won't soon forget.

On a personal level, "Mr. 3000" is easily the best experience I have had on a film set so far. The food was excellent. The crew were remarkably friendly and patient. And I met (and worked with) some wonderful people. I've been blessed to work on this film for as long as I did. Thank you to everyone who made it happen!

I eagerly look forward to seeing "Mr. 3000" on the big screen in 2004!

Good luck to each and every one of the professionals I worked with on-set. Perhaps we will meet again someday.... sometime.... somewhere in this great pot of creativity we call film and television. I'll keep my eyes open. God's blessings to you all!

Your happily blogging actor friend,
-Jon Baas
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