Que Sarah, Sarah

Friday, November 30, 2007

Nipple Stickers ‘n Skivvies

The other day I saw a commerical for the new movie "Beowulf" and was reminded of an absolutely ridiculous, mildly humiliating, only-in-LA experience I had a few years ago. I subscribe to a casting service called Actors Access that sends out breakdowns for movies, TV shows and commercials. It's a great tool for actors and hosts who don't have agents, as you can submit your headshot, resume and information directly to casting directors. In August of 2005 I was sent the following breakdown:

BEOWULF (motion capture females)
Feature Film
SAG

Director: Robert Zemeckis
Casting Director: Sande Alessi/Kristan Berona
Interviews: 8/24
Shoots: Oct-Dec (various dates)
Rate: $1000 per day + Agency
Location: Los Angeles

[ MOTION CAPTURE MODEL 1 ]
Female, 20-30s. 5'-10/5'-11", chest 36-37", hips 37-38". Model MUST be within these measurements...

Meeting the required qualifications—not the least of which was possessing a strong desire to make $1000 a day—I submitted myself and heard back later that afternoon. I was told to come in the next day to ensure that the measurements I gave were correct and to go through the usual question-and-answer bit with the casting people. Seemed simple enough.

At the studio, I was ushered over to a group of about 25 other women, all of whom were supposed to be nearly identical to me in height and shape. This was clearly not the case. We all made small talk, everyone noting what a large variety of shapes and builds there were considering we all fit into a 2-inch range of measurements. After some time, a woman came over to the group to explain the project and exactly how the casting session would work. It turned out the film was to be shot using motion capture, like The Polar Express, and we were auditioning to be the body double for Angelina Jolie. They wanted Jolie's character to be a mix between Jolie and Rebecca Romijn in the X-Men films—slightly taller, and more womanly and voluptuous than Jolie herself. The body double would shoot several days a week for about a month, doing all the major physical movements of the character—everything from walking to major stunts and ropes work. I was psyched. Not only was it high-paying but it sounded like an absolute blast. Can't say I minded the thought of saying I was Anglina Jolie's body double either.

Next, the woman explained that the shape of the body double's general silhouette and the "natural hang" of her breasts should match that of Jolie's as closely as possible. In order to determine this, each woman would have to take a series of 8 photographs from different angles wearing…underwear and nipple stickers. Yes, that's right. We would be grouped in a room ten at a time, where we would strip down to our skivvies, put flower-shaped stickers on our boobs and then turn in a circle for the photos. Now I wouldn't consider myself a shy person, necessarily, but I certainly don't seek out opportunities to be nude amongst strangers, either. Nonetheless here I was, in a room of nearly nude women I'd just met, about to allow someone to get photographic evidence of my every flaw and fault.

Some of the women were obviously models (or strippers, I s'pose) and, used to the mad rush of backstage wardrobe changes, happily disrobed and waited in line, bare asses waving about. Others like myself quickly stripped in the corner, slapped the flowers on and grabbed a robe to wear while awaiting our doom. In the end, it was quick and painless, just a brief 8-stop pirouette in all my naked glory, and yet somehow I still felt a bit duped. I wonder whether those photos will be the ones E! digs up for my True Hollywood Story. I've never lived in my car or been addicted to drugs, so I guess embarrassing, nude, casting photos will have to suffice as evidence of my rocky rise to fame. Or maybe someone will try to blackmail me using a particularly unflattering shot, nipple-blossoms and all—you know, like the Cameron Diaz leather fetish movie. Or perhaps a PA on the set stole the negatives and there's already a website out there called www.naiveandnude.com.

Needless to say, the "natural hang" of my breast was apparently not a match, so I never had the pleasure of doing aerial acrobatics in a sensor-laden jumpsuit. As such, I get the grand a day, either. Since the film's release, I've seen a couple articles discussing Jolie's nude scene, all of which correctly assert that a body double was used. Even before she shriveled into her current emaciated state, Angie never had the hips and curves the CG-enhanced version of her does in the film. I'm not sure which of the women I saw wandering about in her undies got the gig, but I know this: whoever she is, the hang of her boobs is worth thousands…

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