Tag Archives: Film

Behind the Scenes of WeCrashed

We walked through the bowels of a large warehouse shrouded in darkness. I rounded a corner and shoved open a heavy door with no idea what was on the other side.

Suddenly, we were in the world headquarters of WeWork.

The famous startup led by Adam Neumann seemed to take over the world before it crashed just as quickly. And now, it had become a TV miniseries called WeCrashed.

At Goldman Sachs headquarters
Close-up

I had the joy of being a background actor (also known as an extra) on episode 7 of this fascinating show! I played a Goldman Sachs investment banker, hard at work on winning WeWork’s business for its IPO.

Light poured in from above on the set of WeWork’s headquarters, which nailed the company’s funky aesthetic. Concrete columns framed long sofas in bright colors.

I even got to see the famous WeWork gong! Unfortunately, I was not allowed to ring it.

We filmed a scene where a senior Goldman banker tried to impress Neumann by quoting Bob Marley. I had to look like the serious banker, but it was all I could do not to burst out laughing.

Then, Jared Leto made his entrance.

I can’t imagine what it must be like to be him; everyone staring at you, knowing who you are, without you knowing anything about them. I gushed to my fellow extras about what a great actor Leto is, and he nodded to us politely as he passed.

What came next is the best acting I’ve ever seen in person.

Leto was rejecting a proposal from a venerable Wall Street bank, and went through his scene again and again. He delivered the same lines with every possible combination of intonation and inflection, one right after the other, until he determined which was right.

Far away, I quietly remarked to one of the other extras that Leto’s accent sounded a bit heavy. Just minutes later, I noticed he had corrected it.

In between takes, he went into a small room with an assistant to prepare for his next scene. I felt a little sorry for him…we could laugh, joke, and make new friends when we weren’t busy, but he could not.

The crew’s attention to detail amazed me.

At one point, they gave us iPads as props. On the screen was a copy of WeWork’s actual S-1.

In other scenes, we had to use our imagination.

At the Goldman offices watching Neumann announce the IPO, we were actually looking at a green screen. The TV broadcast was added later in post-production.

Filming WeCrashed was a wonderful time! I got to be a small part of a story that fascinates me and see one of my favorite actors at his best!

If you haven’t seen the show, I encourage you to check it out! Leto plays the charismatic, out of control Neumann with uncanny accuracy.

And if I may say so, my big bald head adds a little something too! 🙂

More on entertainment:

What It’s Like to Be on Law & Order: SVU

Filming a TV Show in NYC in a Pandemic

At the Sopranos Convention!

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Filming a TV Show in NYC in a Pandemic

EMT’s jump into a vintage ambulance and speed off past NYPD Chevy Caprices. The backdrop: a spooky, mostly disused hospital on the fringes of New York City. Two menacing men in flat-top fades and thick gold chains saunter toward the entrance.

This is the world I spent yesterday in, as a background actor (also known as an extra) playing an EMT for a popular cable show. Background acting is a fun hobby I picked up in late 2019, but I hadn’t done a gig since the beginning of COVID. But now I’m fully vaccinated and back in the game.

So what’s it like to film a television show in New York City in the middle of a pandemic? First, be prepared to get COVID tested a lot, even if you’re vaccinated. I took a COVID test 10 days before the shoot, a rapid test at the fitting one week out, another test 4 days out, and yet another rapid test as soon as I arrived on set.

But that’s not all. You have to fill out an online form about symptoms and travel every day you come in. Even on the shoot day, you wear a mask at all times unless you’re on camera or eating.

Even with these changes, filming is a lot of fun! I wore an elaborate costume that had been tailored to fit me personally. The tailor even sewed “EMT New York City” patches onto the uniform. I was rather honored to have such a fuss made over me, despite being just a background actor.

I had the opportunity to ride in a 1982 Ford ambulance like this one, which was fascinating! My fellow EMT, who was also a trained stunt driver, took the wheel. I also got to see circa 1990 NYPD squad cars on the set, which is a rare opportunity.

The episode was set in 1991 and we filmed in a remote part of New York City. I can’t get into specifics on the show until it airs later this year, but I was incredibly impressed at the very real little world they had created. Two characters had Timberland boots, thick gold necklaces, and tall, fade-style Afros cut specially for the scene. The cars were picture perfect. There’s something about seeing a little world where the past has been recreated, and becoming a part of it, that’s quite thrilling.

In all, with the many tests and fitting and elaborate setup, I was only actually on camera for maybe 90 minutes. That footage will later be cut down to probably just a few seconds. The amount of work that goes into making a perfect scene that may last just an instant is incredible.

I look forward to being a part of lots of other interesting shows soon!

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Photos:

“VFS Film Production: ‘Milligan’s Stew'” by vancouverfilmschool is licensed under CC BY 2.0

“1982 Ford F-100 ambulance” by sv1ambo is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Christopher Moltisanti Hit Rock Bottom at This Diner

“Wanna follow me to that dive on Sip and JFK?”

Julianna Skiff, The Sopranos

So begins the romance between mobster Christopher Moltisanti and Julianna Skiff in season 6 of The Sopranos. The troubled pair meet at an AA meeting. Soon they’re having an extramarital affair that spirals into a return to heroin addiction.

Their romance begins and ends at the VIP Diner in Jersey City, NJ. Being a big fan of this episode and the show in general, I took a little trip there yesterday. The diner is exactly as it appeared on the show in 2007, and indeed seems not to have changed at all since at least the 1970’s.

The restaurant was nearly empty when I entered in the late afternoon. I sat at a weathered booth near the window and enjoyed a coffee and newspaper. Cocooned in a nearby booth, Christopher tells Julianna about his entry to the mafia and they reflect on their return to heroin use at the end of episode 12.

As they leave the restaurant and head for an AA meeting, Julianna already senses that their relationship is over. It was interesting to walk down those same steps as I headed home.

Enjoying a coffee in the same spot where these great scenes happened was a lot of fun! If you’re in the area, I’d recommend popping in.

Bonus location: the hair salon across the street was used for a scene in season 1, episode 9, where Bobbi Sanfilippo discusses Uncle Junior’s “talents” with her pedicurist. Through the window, you can see the VIP Diner across the street.

It appeared to have been heavily remodeled and didn’t look much like the beauty parlor in the episode, but it was still interesting to see it! I actually looked at an apartment in this building a couple of years ago without realizing it was a Sopranos shooting location!

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