Friday, July 3, 2009
Local man lands screen time in the new Public Enemies move after a round of "musical chairs" with Michael Mann.
Greg Galbraith of Cottage Grove Wisconsin was delighted to see himself on the Big Screen at the Madison Premiere of Michael Mann's new film “Public Enemies”, at the Point Cinema on Tuesday night June 30, 2009.
Galbraith who was originally cast as a "Civilian Audience Member" in the new Public Enemies movie starring Johnny Depp, Christian Bale, Marion Cortillard and Billy Crudup, found himself in an entirely different role when the scene was actually shot. Galbraith participated in one of the two scenes that were filmed in Madison at the State Capitol’s North Hearing room in May of 2008. Because the scene took place within the State Capitol, it had to be filmed after regular working hours, and did so way into the wee hours of the night, finally wrapping shortly after dawn the next day.
The North Hearing room of the Wisconsin State Capitol was transformed to resemble a Congressional hearing room in Washington, D.C. The scene was to be a recreation of
J. Edgar Hoovers petition to congress to request additional money to expand the then Bureau of Investigation, to create the current Federal Bureau of Investigation AKA FBI.
When the time came for him to film his scene, Mr. Galbraith and the other movie extras would be placed along each side of the North Hearing room. He and many other movie extras would play "Civilian Audience Members". One by one the movie extras entered the room and like well placed chess pieces were assembled into the room like the human props they were. The extras would provide motion and reaction to what was occurring in the court room.
While the movie extras filled in the perimeter of the room, the center of the hearing room was filled with large wooden tables and ornate leather chairs. Meticulously placed on the table were various other props to add depth and substance to the scene. Props such as authentic 1930's era microphones, glass ashtrays complete with smoking material, crystal water glasses and carafe's filled with water. In addition to those, there were also leather bound portfolios and pads of paper that had the Congressional seal. This they were told is where the main stars would be seated for the Congressional scene.
This would be the stage set for J. Edgar Hoover (Billy Crudup) and his entourage to petition Congress for the additional funding he needed to expand the Bureau of Investigation. The "Stars" would be seated around these tables.
Once the civilian audience extras had been placed, the stars and their entourage filed in and took their places at the long wooden tables. It was at this point that our attention was drawn to the front of the room and to the director, Michael Mann.
For most of the extras now seated, this would be their first glimpse of the famous director Michael Mann. He was in the front of the room speaking to his assistant director and gesturing at the table, and then to the audience. He said a few more words and then as if someone flipped a switch, his staff and crew sprang to life. It seems that Mr. Mann had some changes that he wanted to make to the scene...and it was very evident that what Michael Mann wants, he gets.
He asked several of the people seated at the tables to step away from the tables. He then focused his attention back on the room, and as if he was reviewing the entire scene in his mind, he called several of the civilian audience extras to step forward and take the place of those who had stepped away. He then repeated this process again, rearranging some of the people at the tables, asking a few who had stepped down to return and with a final seating adjustment he gave a nod of his head that things were now as he wanted them to be.
It was during this Michael Mann version of musical chairs that Mr. Galbraith found himself seated at one of the big tables. He recalls the nervous feeling in his stomach as he was asked to move from one chair to another, and his desire to still be seated there when the "music" stopped.
Galbraith recalls that it was a bit like a combination of "Simon Says" and “Musical Chairs” with Michael Mann calling the shots. Before it was all over, you didn't know if you would be staying or leaving. You just did what he said, and if you were like me, you crossed your fingers and hoped for the best...
Mr. Galbraith was not left disappointed. For when the last command was given, he found himself promoted from a Civilian Audience Member, to one of J. Edgar Hoover’s aides. When the clapboard sounded, and the direction of "Action" was given, Galbraith found not only had he made it to the "big table", his new position landed him right behind and between the two big stars who were seated directly in front of him at the main table. Several takes, and 14 hours later, Galbraith emerged from the State Capitol with hundreds of other movie extras, their first, and perhaps last, taste of potential stardom under their belts.
Galbraith would wait for over a year to find out if the scene shot in the State Capitol's North Conference room that chilly night in May would even make the big screen...let alone if he would be fortunate enough to see himself. There were no promises made, and no guarantees given.
Thirteen long months later... Galbraith along with hundreds of fans and fellow movie extras from across the state would come together to see an advanced premiere screening of the new Michael Mann film “Public Enemies”.
All gathered together for what can only be described as a mass game of "Where's Waldo" with each participant trying to catch a fleeting glimpse of themselves, a loved one, or their community, forever captured for posterity on the big screen.
Fifteen minutes into the film, Galbraith and his family were rewarded and elated to see that he indeed had made the cut. There he was, bigger than life up on the big screen... right behind, and slightly over the right shoulder of Billy Crudup... portraying one of J. Edgar Hoover’s Congressional Aides.
Somehow, Galbraith will never think of Musical Chairs the same way again...
Johnny Depp is John Dillinger in Michael Mann's biopic Public Enemies.
Public Enemies opened nation wide on July 1st, and can be seen in several theaters across Wisconsin.
Wednesday, July 1, 2009
I managed to actually show up a couple of different times during the congress scene in the film, where Hoover (Billy Crudup) is petitioning congress for money to create the FBI.
Tuesday, June 30, 2009
I cant believe I made it... Me... on the silver screen....
I am sure that the scene in final editing will only last a few moments... but in real time, it took over 14 hours to shoot just that one scene...
Keep your fingers crossed for me... And don't blink... you just might see me up there on the Big Screen...
Friday, June 26, 2009
Then as if reading from a script, or rote from a call that has no doubt been placed thousands of times before... Steve asks me if I was still interested in a role as a movie extra for the upcoming Public Enemies movie... To which I immediately and automatically blurted out "yes, would I!"
He explained that the film is based on the story of John Dillinger, and that the film is set in the 1930’s. There would be a wardrobe fitting, and a hair cut to reflect the style of that era. He then asked again, is this something that you are willing to do? Again, I responded with an enthusiastic "yes".
He explained that they would be filming a congress scene in Madison in early May. That I was selected to be one of the audience background extras in the scene, and it could run one or two days, depending on the filming schedule. The date and exact location was not yet set, but I would be notified closer to the date of the actual date and place of where to report.
The next step was for me to set up a date and time for a wardrobe fitting and a hair cut.
He explained where I would need to report, and what to bring. He asked that I arrive early, as there was also paperwork to complete. I was to bring a current government issued ID, and a social security card. I would become an employee of the casting company… Uncle Sam would be wanting his cut…
Wow, I am going to be a movie extra in a Michael Mann movie starring Johnny Depp, AND get paid for it?? Wow, the gods really are smiling down on me.
He provided me with directions of where I should go for the fitting, and said I should arrive at wardrobe wearing a clean white T-shirt, black pants and dark shoes. Oh, and by the way, I should be clean shaven… I explained that I had a mustache… "Oh" he says, "you are going to want to get rid of that"
This was the only speed bump for me in this process thus far… I come from a family that is long on hair, but is short on lips… We have those pencil thin, almost non existent lizard/chicken lips… and until now, I have successfully hidden that fact from most of the world for the past 20 some years… Now all would be revealed… So long mustache, so long soul patch, hello obscure once in a life time major motion picture movie appearance… Was it worth it?
Hell yeah it was worth it! Dam the torpedoes, full speed ahead…
Now where did I put that razor…
As soon as I hung up the phone, I called the number that was left on the message. I spoke to the gentleman who answered the phone and provided him with my information. After a few minutes of hold time he came back to ask if I was interested in being an extra for the Public Enemies movie. Interested? Heck Yeah I was interested... Where do I report!
Yes! After all the waiting, and self-doubt, finally the call that I had been waiting for! I made it to the first phase... He provided me with a telephone number, and more information on what type of scene I would be participating in. He did say that it was going to be filmed in Madison, and provided me with a tentative date and time, however he explained that all dates and times were subject to change...
I was to wait for further instructions and should be prepared set up a time to meet at an undisclosed location for a haircut and wardrobe fitting...
Was this all really happening? Someone pinch me... I must be dreaming.
Finally, I skipped the first four acts, and just popped in for the fifth and final act. "Acceptance". And when the final curtain fell, I simply accepted the fact that it was over. It wasn’t my time. Fair enough. Time to truly move on…
To further confirm this, the local news media had started to report that several people in the area had already been contacted to participate. One group was a local theater group from a small technical college. They reported that several of the students were contacted and selected to participate in the filming.
And that was that. The final nail in the coffin of my acting career...
Dead before it even began…
The final casting had been done. Those people selected had been contacted and it was finally over. No longer did I need to wait, chained to the phone in eager anticipation of a call…
So in April, as a way of further convincing my self that it was over, and that I really meant it this time… I actually booked a trip to Arizona, and took a week to "get away from it all" We packed our bags and headed to Red Rock country... Sedona Arizona…
After a beautiful and relaxing week in Sedona and the surrounding area, I realized that this trip was just what the Doctor ordered. I was able to clear my head, clear my heart, and be at peace with myself again.
Life was looking good again. I didn’t need the role as an Extra in Public Enemies movie to define who I was… (although it would have been really cool…)
It was on my last day in Arizona, we were headed to the Phoenix airport when I received a call from home. The message was something to the affect of: "Someone from the Public Enemies Casting department has been trying to get a hold of you… They want to know if I would be available to work as extra in an upcoming scene being filmed at the State Capital in Madison… Please call them back right away if you are interested…" If I was interested? Play that message back again, I need to make a call!