Crime Scene Atmosphere
“I saw the whole thing,” I was telling the HPD officer in Fort Street Mall as a bloody villain was being put into an ambulance right behind us. I had spent the entire day in a holding pattern to tell the story and yes, I definitely saw the whole thing. A hundred times from various angles.
It was my first time being an extra (or as they so affectionately refer to it on the call sheets “atmosphere”) on the popular hit show, Hawaii Five-0. It was easier to get on the show than it is to get into most clubs on a weekend, and I did it all by myself with no help from my friends. It started because I was asked for the millionth time by my mom who lives on the mainland if she was ever going to see me when she watched it so I Googled “How to be an Extra on Hawaii Five-0” and was immediately directed to Rachel Sutton Casting who, appropriately, has an easy online registration and call-back process. Within weeks I was e-mailed the time and location for a “cattle call” sign-up of about 150 extras to kick off the season and then called more than once to work. Of course, if you have a day-job like me, it’s not as easy. You have to pick and choose when you’re available and it might not always be when they call. Hopefully it works out, because when it does, just Oh My God. It was the best day of my life.
It started with a 5:18am call time and a hearty breakfast (thank you, CBS). After a brief check-in, we were taken by van to set. They escorted the 60 of us down to the “holding area” just below Pioneer Plaza and so began our true work: Waiting. With the MULTIPLE reminders to not approach the cast, I didn’t want to even catch the eye of anyone I knew on the show, so I hid downstairs by DeShannon Higa who was also playing the role of “Passerby” and we talked music, movies, TV and life stories until lunch.
That’s right. From 6am until lunch time we sat. It was still exciting though, watching Alex O’Loughlin tell his puppy to sit in his sexy Australian accent before going up for his scene, and even sneaking stares at visiting guest stars Tom Sizemore and William Baldwin. I was called out more than once by the crew who let me come up and watch the shoot, the password being “She did Evi’s party.” I was too shame to be singled out and scolded so I shrunk back down to the holding area more often than not. It was a long, awesome day. When it was finally our time to shine we were taken upstairs and put in place; a gruesome aftermath of a critical scene on the show. It wasn’t until the lady came over and started brushing my hair that I realized I might actually be on camera in the shot. No wait, it wasn’t until the camera operator came over and told me to stand right here that I realized I was actually going to be in the shot. The small interruption caused a teasing Daniel Dae Kim to call me out for stealing his shot and had me mortified. Now everyone knew I was there and then Grace Park who I haven’t seen in weeks came over to say hello. I was freaking out that the director was going to have me removed from the set for fraternizing with the cast, but I guess they have some pull. Thank God. Then we were rolling, and I was talking to a real HPD officer quietly with gallant gestures about what I “saw” that day. To say I can’t wait for the season premiere at Sunset on the Beach this weekend would be a severe understatement. I friggin’ love this show.