krewe du vieux, take 2

fae and i got a little bonus mardi gras activity in on friday night. though mardi gras is indeed over – thank goddess, i’m exhausted! – we both landed an impromptu gig being extras for the hbo tv series “treme” which, of course, is set in and shot here in new orleans. i’m an avid craigslist reader, and so saw a call for extras on thursday; we applied and got in. (i don’t think they were very picky – they just needed bodies.) seemed like an interesting and fun way to both spend a friday night and also make $100 each while doing so. we considered it a “date.”

well, it ended up being interesting and i guess a little fun, but also very tedious and tiring. and cold. we showed up at 4pm and spent the first 5-6 hours mostly filling out and dealing with paperwork, and then hanging out just waiting for something to happen – though they did at least feed us pretty well. we were inside a huge tent located in washington square park, along with 200+ extras, many of whom were members of krewe du vieux sub-krewes and in full costume. (also many crusty anarchist and eclectic hipster types.)

extras holding tent

the scene they were shooting was set against the backdrop of the 2006 krewe du vieux parade, the first mardi gras parade post-katrina. so they had 3 floats (not sure if they were the originals – probably not since kdv had a den fire last summer – but if not, they were great replicas) and 3 sub-krewes (again, not sure if they were all actual members of the sub-krewes or other folks from kdv or what, but my guess is that they were, cuz those costumes looked original) plus a few brass bands. they’d blocked off two blocks of royal street between frenchmen and kerlerec and had the whole set illuminated by giant flood lights.

on set of hbo's "treme"

the actual shooting only took about 3-4 hours, which was good since it was still pretty cold out. some scenes were shot with full brass band music and crowd noise, just like a real parade, but many scenes were shot with us pantomiming the action while being silent so they could record dialogue between the actors in the scene. it was weird to try to replicate the energy and activity of an actual parade without any sound, and over and over again. i know this is what actors do, but most of the extras were not actors, so it felt kinda ridiculous. but i guess we did an ok job of it.

i did see wendell pierce, who is one of the main characters in the series. he plays a horn player in a brass band, and was in many of the scenes shot and was on set most of the night. we also saw john goodman, who i have heard plays an ashley morris-inspired character, but he was only around for five minutes (or if he was there longer, i didn’t see him), so i didn’t get a picture of him.

wendell pierce on set of hbo's "treme"

wendell pierce on set of hbo's "treme"

all in all, i guess i’m glad we did it. (we’ll be more glad when our paychecks come in the mail!) fae’s friend and former professor kate was also there, as was rollergirl sophie nuke ’em, so at least we had some folks to talk to and hang out with. i guess i’d do it again if i have the opportunity, as it’s pretty easy “work” for the money, but it is a big time commitment and next time i need to bring a book or some things to help pass the waiting-around time. and dress warmer if it’s still cold.

guess i now need to find a way to watch the series when it starts in april, as i don’t have hbo.

more pics available on my flickr page.