Tuesday, May 10, 2011

My Film Career un-Début

I was finally discovered. A woman chased me across the Plaza Grande and followed me down a side street as I headed for Plaza Chica. She entreated me to be an extra in a documentary to bring visitors to Michoacán. I was well-qualified for my road to stardom: I looked foreign and I was to be a Turista.

stardom

To make a long story shorter, we agreed that, although I was not available that day to go to Santa Clara, we would meet the next day and I would go with the film crew to the Yácatas at Tzintzuntzan. I invited good-natured and, as it turned out, hapless friend NV to share in the glory of a Turista part, as well. This was lucky for me, but we will get to that.

The next day we were to meet at Noon. The time was changed to 5:00 PM, then re-changed to 6:00 PM. We were flexible. NV and I hopped in a van with film crew and took off, on our way to fame and fortune.

film crew (5)

The film crew had a lot to set up.

film crew (6)

Pelota de Fuego players wait.

We arrived at the Yácatas. The Director did not like the blouses we were wearing with our capris and we were decked out with something else. We finally passed muster.

film crew (7)

The dressing-room.

We got to see the rehearsal for the Pelota de Fuego. I captured this short video clip, but when I wanted to get more I was shooed away. The Director did not want to burn up the Turistas he said. “Mala publicidad.” (Note the singed grass.) I like the coup de grâce when the Pelota de Fuego is smothered with a bucket.

film crew (9)

We went back to the dressing-room to wait. Another Turista, JA, was re-dressed several times. Then final touches were added to his hair with gel.

It got later and darker.  When will we start I asked. “Just another thirty minutes.” It got much darker. Just another hour they said.

At some point, after being dressed and coiffed, these lovelies were dismissed; it was decided they would not be used.

It was now pitch black outside and the time was 9:30 PM. My friend’s husband had arrived—in his car!—earlier. I talked to a sub-director and said that we could only wait another thirty minutes. He talked by radio with the Director. We would start in an hour. And the shooting would only take two hours. We would be on our way back to Patzcuaro before 1:00 AM. I said that I was sorry, that I wanted to give my apoyo for a documentary to promote Michoacán, but that I needed to leave by 10:00 PM if shooting did not begin by then. (I had been up since 6:00 AM; I had commitments all day the next day.)

Some of the last comments I heard from the Director over the radio were to send “Felipe” (or someone) to find another Turista. And to go get carnitas for dinner for the crew and the extras. As NV’s husband drove us back toward Pátzcuaro, I wondered where one snatches up wandering Turistas at that time of night at the Yácatas or in the little town of Tzintzuntzan, and where does one buy carnitas?  Or how would I have gotten a taxi if I were not riding home with friends?

I realize that there was a cultural disjuncture in this scenario, but probably not the one which first comes to your mind. The principal disjuncture was between Pátzcuaro and the D.F. At 10:00 PM in the D.F. the crew members would probably normally think about getting dressed and where to go for dinner. The night would be young. Patzcuaro rolls up its sidewalks by 9:00 PM.

This film crew worked in Pátzcuaro and surrounding areas from April 16th to the 29th. They were very nice. I am sure the documentary will be well done and I very much look forward to seeing it. I wish I were in it. I am matutinal, not a night owl. Darn. Tell me if you see the documentary.

You, too, can patzcuarear.

1 comment:

Felipe said...

I was an extra in a real movie, made in New Orleans many years ago. I could have told you that the life of an extra is a pain in the kazoo. Mostly you just stand around and wait. It's mind-numbingly boring.

But you know that now.