Chapter 4: LA part 6 – Cheaper By the Dozen

Recording date:


Pasadena Rose Bowl Stadium

Sunday 4th of May 2003.

I am now at Pasadena Inn, a hotel room like any other.

It even has the multi striped colored bedspread I have seen in so many other hotel rooms. Pasadena is a little ways east of Los Angeles, and is a more uptown city, nicer and more relaxed than many areas in Los Angeles. It in ways reminds me of Norway.

I have an extra/background job tomorrow as a football fan and am also part of the cleanup crew in “Cheaper by the Dozen.” A movie staring Steve Martin. I plan to wake up at 6.30am and check out of the hotel at around 7.15am. I do not need to get there before 8am, and it will only take about 10 minutes to get there, but it is nice to be there at least 30 minutes before my scheduled time. I had listened over the phone to the automatic message from Jeff Olan Casting about the job and it seemed like we would getting breakfast. I’ll find that out when I get there.

Monday 5th of May 2003

When I woke up at 6.30am I was really tired. I got together my things, called the automatic answering machine for the Jeff Olan Casting line to check for any last minute changes. There were none, so I checked out of Pasadena Inn at 7.20am and drove to the Rose Bowl. I parked and walked up to the entrance, and was directed up to a huge green tent where we were to sign in. When that was done I received my non union voucher (meaning not a part of the Screen Actors Guild – SAG), the payment slip that they would sign at the end of the day. I checked out  the breakfast buffet, containing bagels, donuts, fruit, cerial etc, and decided on a banana, and some water melon. I did not have to stand around too long before one of the crew that had an earpiece on and a small microphone by the throat asked for the cleaning crew to come forward. I stepped forward along with five others and he guided us over to the wardrobe trailer to change into a burgundy (dark red), and a blue for me oversize pants (I am glad I had a belt along). Burgundy is the color of the Football team Stallions, the team that Steve Martin´s character coaches.

The cleanup crew

After our quick change in the trailer area we walked inside the Rose Bowl, for a recording. We picked up huge black plastic trash bins, and broms so it would look like we were cleaning the stadium after a football game. The film crew sent us up into the bleachers below the score board. behind the touchdown area. We were spread out, and the filming began. With the camera crew in the middle of the football field pointing one or two cameras towards us.

What we would usually hear was; rolling! , action!, background! our signal to begin our individual cleanup jobs either sweeping or carrying around the huge plastic trash bins to pick up non used Pepsi cups. On cut, we would go back to position one, meaning the place were we began, and wait until filming restarted. We were three on our cleanup team carrying the trash bins that had to spread out the Pepsi cups that we a moment ago had just picked up, so that they would be ready for the next take. I just looked for whatever was on my path, which was very little. I have a feeling that this scene might be one of the last in the movie as the film crew played some relaxing mood music that will likely also be in the movie. So if you see the movie and there is a part where you can see some cleanup guys and hear relaxing music, it might be this scene I am taking about.

There were a few takes, and suddenly there was time for a break. During much of the day when the film crew were not filming some of them would play catch on the field. Steve Martin played a bit with the football as well when we were just waiting around for the next scene to be set up.

The make believe football game.

After we were done with the scene we walked back to the wardrobe trailers and changed back into our own cloths. We were now to take part with the rest of the people (perhaps around 300) that had just waited around while the film crew had filmed us, the cleanup crew, inside the stadium. We walked with the rest back into the stadium and packed a small section of the bleachers by the middle field. The scene was one of being in the middle of a football game, and we were handed various fan props to inspire the home team, the Stallions. There was a stand-in for Steve Martin so the film crew could check for lighting, distance and posture, to prepare the scene before Steve Martin came in for the filming.

I had my backpack with me so I took two pictures, and it became the only pictures I was able to take that day, as a little while later I left my backpack in the trailer I changed in.  The audience scene finished and one of the film crew asked for the cleanup crew to raise their hands. We had to rush back into the wardrobe trailer and change back into the cleanup outfit we had on earlier for the next scene.

The cleanup crew in action again.

The third scene was once again up in the bleachers, but the film crew paned the camera, moving the camera on rails parallel to where we were. How that looks like on the screen I might find out some day. I began to smell barbecue, and time came for lunch. There was general lunch for all from 12-1pm, and afterward the cleanup crew gathered once again for another scene. The fourth scene the film crew picked up their heavy cameras and walked up to the top of the middle field bleachers on the opposite to where I was located. They made some recordings of us cleaning up the area.

The fith scene was one were Steve Martin´s characters family holds up signs on the sideline of the field saying, “We Love you Coach.” The kids and a wife played by Bonnie Hunt held up the signs and then dropped them to rush out onto the field to hug their dad and husband. There were just a very few cleanup crew in the shot and I was one of them. If I am recognizable on screen I do not know. It was fascinating to watch the scene when I could when the camera was not in my direction and see how things played out. The film crew also had some  music going on in this scene as well. It is not easy to work with kids, and this film crew also discovered that, but mostly it went alright.

Watching the monitor

There was some more filming in the middle of the field, and before that began I walked over and on one of the two small monitors could see the scene they had recorded earlier with the kids. Steve Martin, Bonnie Hunt, the director and a few others were watching the monitor to see how it turned out. I stood just behind the actors chairs to see, while the rest of the cleanup crew held their distance. Steve Martin is funny on screen but the impression I have of him from my experience today and what I have been told earlier is that he is very reserved and basically a shy person.

As the next scene was to begin Steve Martin complained about all the people standing around in his line of sight, so most of the people standing close by moved further away to give him some space. In this scene there was a closeup on Steve Martin while his family ran over to hug him.

The kids

The next scene was a little while later as they cleared out the field. There was some more filming of the bleachers I had been in earlier, and another scene with two of Steve Martin´s character´s kids. Two short grown men were used as stand-in´s for the young kids, and when the time came the kids took their place. I sat right by for a while until they were ready to film the scene. They asked that one of the cleanup crew go further down, to be in the shot in the background. I was the closest so I walked down the three to four rows. As the filming began I walked toward the kids, and they had some free reign to do what they wanted. The director was open for whatever they wanted to do and also encouraged them to continue climbing on the chairs. In the mean time I slowly came closer and also smiled at them as they played. If I am to be visible in this movie this scene has to be it, if they do not blur me into the background or cut out the scene (which they did). For all the other scenes were done from far away cameras. The scene was done just once or twice and that was it. If they use that snippet of film, I do not know, but my guess is no, but I would not mind being wrong.

The Love sign

The next scene the fans were also brought in. Steve Martin´s character´s family was to sit in the middle of the bleachers with a few free rows in front so that the signs they held would be visible in the camera. I noticed that in the practice shot that the sign with the words Love was held up in front of me as I sat a couple of rows behind the family. The way that they held up their signs my head would have shown on screen right above the sign with the red colored words Love, but things were changed around. The family were moved to the first row, and the fans were juggled around. It was a football game scene so we cheered for the home team to win, while the family on the first row held up their signs, “We Love you Coach.” This became the last scene of the day. It was now closer to 5.30pm and we had begun the day at just before 8am. I went back to the trailer and changed from the cleanup crew outfit and back into my regular cloths. I then walked over to the green tent were we had checked in early in the morning, and filled out the form and handed it back, and was on my way. My first job finished!

After thought

It seemed like out of all the 300 extras present that I was the one at the right place at the right time. As I believe I was the one that received the most time in front of the camera of the extras. I did not have to wait much around today as I was in almost all their filming, and perhaps I might also be able to recognize myself in a scene. Beginning my carrier in acting with a Steve Martin movie is to me a very good beginning. Actually I had noticed “Cheaper by the Dozen” over a month ago in Hollywood Reporter magazine and had a fantasy that I was doing comedy with Steve Martin. Well I was not able to do that yet, but I am thankful for the chance of being an extra in “Cheaper by the Dozen. ” I received so much air time that it surprised me. Wishes do come true. Now I wish to be an extra in……I can´t say it or else it might not become so. But it is up to God if I am to become an extra in the movie I am thinking of that begins filming at the beginning of June. I better not go home to Minneapolis for a weeks break, as I would spoil the momentum I have going at this time. Tomorrow I plan to register at a few other extra Casting Agencies as well.