By Diane Maddox
Hey Y’all. Being an extra on a hit television show has been on my “bucket list” for some time now, along with reaching my goal weight, sleeping in a haunted hotel and visiting the Hershey Chocolate Factory. Yes, unfortunately I know goal weight and chocolate do seem to contradict each other.
My bucket list, short for things I want to do before I die, just became one item less recently. I had the opportunity to be an extra on the hit TV show NASHVILLE. Finally, a chance to be behind the scenes and see ‘up close’ how one of my favorite TV shows is produced.
The opportunity to be a background artist, which is just a fancy term for extra, became a reality last week when NASHVILLE filmed a segment for the debut of the second season which will air on September 25th.
E-mail instructions arrived a few days before filming which included what to wear, how to act/react and most of all strict instructions that I was not allowed to reveal any secrets of the show until it actually airs. The final bit of info said I should be prepared to work from seven p.m. until three a.m. That last part made me pause because by about nine p.m. my pajamas are usually on.
Curiosity won out over sleep and I showed up at the Parthenon in Nashville to be in the crowd scene for a segment featuring Juliette Barnes doing a concert scene for the show. A big red X was placed on my hand when I arrived so that I could indulge in all the free food I could eat in the casting tent. Loads of chili, hamburgers and even peanut butter and jelly sandwiches along with every snack food you could possibly wish for was available. As I sat at a picnic table visiting with the other extras, snacking and just waiting to be called for my big scene,I was thinking this was a lot of fun.
After about an hour and a half it was announced that we were needed on set. Finally! How exciting! The crew then marched us over single file and lined us up checked our wardrobe and gave strict instructions that if we were caught taking phone pictures we would be yanked from filming. Some of us were given props. I was given a glow stick and others were given fake cameras that had working flashbulbs.
While we waited for the “lights, camera, action” directive, we got to look around at the props, lighting and massive amount of equipment it takes to film a TV show. And then it happened- Juliette Barnes (Hayden Panettier) arrived on stage. The Parthenon was bathed in a purple glow as Juliette took the stage wearing a silver sequined short gown with a long white train (picture a Las Vegas wedding dress). She is so tiny in person and just adorable. Avery Barkley (Jonathan Jackson) another cast member joins in playing guitar. He was pretty easy on the eyes too.
I don’t think I’m giving too much away if I tell you that this part of the show is supposed to be a benefit concert for Rayna Jaymes (Connie Britton) who is seen on the shows finale last season about to have a horrible car crash. Obviously Rayna is in bad shape and Juliet tells the crowd (all us extras) how much Rayna means to her. And then she sings one of Rayna’s songs. The singing was great. We all clapped, cheered and I waved my glow stick with gusto. What fun. That was great! That should be a wrap, It can’t get any better.
We are then told it is not quite that easy. This five minutes of the TV show is going to take hours to film. By the tenth take we will know every word to the song and be hearing it in our dreams for nights to come. And I have to say this was true. In between takes different lighting is tried, people moved around and a crew of about six make up people arrive on stage to “touch up”the actors. I am wishing just one of those helpers could massage my tired legs. I think even my glow stick is getting tired.Toward the end of the evening I was thinking this bucket list adventure of mine is surely a one time thing.
The good news about my bucket list is it just keeps getting longer and I hope this means I will not “kick the bucket” until I get to stay in the Giraffe Manor in Nairobi, visit the giant redwoods, attend a native american sweat lodge ceremony, go to the Kentucky Derby, see my husband elected sheriff or walk up to a stranger, hand them a suitcase and say in my best spy voice, “You know what to do with this”. (Don’t worry there will just be a glow stick inside)
Happy adventures Y’all!