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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Fame Monster

Being a calefare (extra on a tv set) is one way wannabe(s) get their foot in the doorway of fame. Fiona Xie started as one. I believe Singapore's media industry is still pretty decent, none of the sleeping your way to fame. However, becoming famous also largely depends on luck, a lot of it.

Some do get it via hard work, unrelentlessly knocking on all doors, facing many rejections before that one big break. Like my friend Melissa, she pursued her dream hard and she is only eating her desserts now.
I woke up early on Sunday to participate as a tv set extra. I wasn't hungry for fame, but i couldn't pass up the opportunity to fulfil a childhood ambition. Even if i am only paid $10/hour and the director and producers didn't give two hoots about the "extra".

First station for any actor/calefare is here.
You change into your costume, every detail is accounted for. A lady fusses over how you should put it on ("button up! you can't be too sexy), and warn you about losing the clothes hanger ("$0.50 a peice!")
Nailing the look down to a T, it is all part of the movie magic.

The next station: Make-Up

Here is where you do most of your celebrity sightings. Where there's usually a din as the celebrities gossip amongst themselves. Make-up artists (also known as MUA, industry jargon) is the CNA/Center/HQ of all gossips.

And so, i woke up bright and early on a Sunday morning to fulfil a childhood ambition. No, my ambition wasn't to be an actress, much less a calefare. But...

A stern looking Madam! I wanted to be a prison officer when i was 16. Everyone talked me out of it, and so off i pranced onto on a office lady route *yawn*

The uniform made me feel very smart, neat and sharp. It is 100% authentic and geniune (i think. looks like it), which is a danger if it falls into the wrong calefare hands! When i stepped out of filming location to the hawker next door, i could feel everyone's eyes on me! In awe or in fear i can't quite tell, but i was crossing my fingers that a crime better not happen right in front of my eyes otherwise the admiring gaze i held from everyone will turn to shame when i can't defeat the robber.

At least the baton i had wasn't plastic. If the need arises, i can still hamtum the robber and save some face.

The uniform is form fitting which gives you a great look but i wonder how do the police run in this get-up. Great fashion sense, but low practicality. It is also VERY warm.

A TV station has many departments. One department takes care of sourcing locations specifically. Sourcing locations is alot more cost and time efficient than building a set. Caldecott Hill do not have that much space anyway.
Here we are on location, a dilapitated detention center.
It will make a great horror scene.
Offerings are often made at any location shoot due to the superstitions of the production team.
They did warn me about walking in to them. I wanted to walk down the row of cells, with no lights but it was broad daylight. They told me it is "very dirty". I changed my mind. Then i thought, "This was a detention area. Not the hanging gallows. Why would ghosts haunt this place?" Oh well, but better safe than sorry.

Hollywood have trailers. Mediacorp has one bus-multiple use.
You see that male prison guard standing by the corner? That's my calefare role. When Mediacorp called me and asked if i wanted to participate on Sunday, i asked, " Oh, you're from the calefare department?!"

Then the girl was alittle embarrassed and tried to be politcally correct/ PR me.

"No lah...not calefare. You're more important. You've some lines."

When the script came, my 2 lines was "时间到" and "走了".
I was ectastic and i had one NG. That's sarcasm, if you can't tell from text.

That's some Taiwanese actress whom i don't know. She is really skinny and small, her manager has to buy rice for her and share one packet with her. She has nice hair, big eyes and teeth too big for her small face.
That's my calefare role, opening and closing cell gates with TWO VERY IMPORTANT LINES. Without me, the show CAN'T GO ON! No one will let the main actress out you know...
Relax, the cuffs are tight because they are new.

No, we don't have quotas.
We used to have but now we are allowed to write as many as we want.

$40 and a childhood ambition fulfilled. That's how my Sunday was spent.
True Story

A couple goes on vacation to a fishing resort in Lake Taupo. The husband likes to fish at the crack of dawn. The wife likes to read.

One morning, the husband returns after several hours of fishing and decides to take a nap. Although not familiar with the lake, the wife decides to take the boat out. She motors out a shor distance, anchors and continues to read her book.

Along comes a fishing warden in his boat. He pulls up alongside the woman and says," good morning Ma'am. what are you doing?"

"Reading a book," she replies, (thinking, "isn't it obvious?")
"You're in a restricted fishing area," he informs her.
"I'm sorry officer, but i am not fishing. i am reading."
"Yes, but you have all the equipment. For all i know you could start at any moment. I'll have to take you in and write you up."
'If you do that, i'll have to charge you with sexual assualt," says the woman.

"but i haven't even touched you,"says the game warden.

"that's true, but you have all the equipment. for all i know you could start at any moment."

"Have a nice day Ma'am", and he left.

I'll want a wife like that.


Mel said...

Hi , may i noe how did u get to be a calefare ? (my ambition is to be an actress but i have no prior acting experience so I wish to be a calfare to expose myself to the acting industry) thanks alot (:

Xtine said...

Hi Mel,

Try The Talent Studio or get yourself into other talent companies (but don’t get cheated into paying for a portfolio to be done). You can get calefare opportunities from there. I have a long standing history and thus i get such opportunities.

Ben said...

hi, sorry to bother you. i just want to ask something. you mention to try the talent studio or other companies. but can you please give me some examples? thank you!! btw. i have no training or experience in being a calefare.

Xtine said...

Hi ben, pls read my reply above to mel. U dont need training or exp to b a calefare! U can also call mediacorp directly n ask to b directed to the casting dept

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