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My life as a filmstar…aka my day as a kayaking extra

My life as a filmstar…aka my day as a kayaking extra

It’s not often that I get to experience the lives of the rich and famous, but due to the vision of a certain ad agency, for one day recently I got to take part in the filming of a commercial by kayaking in the background. Cue lights, camera, and action!

The 4am alarm was a rude awakening for sure, my call time was 5.30am at the location, which I was really none too excited about.  However, I am often inspired to action by food and I had heard that catering on film sets is usually pretty fantastic, and this was not an empty promise. The hot breakfast from the catering truck was delicious, and a great way to start the day.

There were 28 background extras kayaking altogether, and 3 main actors also in kayaks, so we were quite a spectacle. We were filming in Howe Sound, and the vision of the first shot was to have all 28 of us kayaking towards the beach in one synchronised, fluid motion. Not very natural looking, but aesthetically pleasing apparently. To enable us to all get in sync, they set up a metronome on a speaker system and after approximately 7 total hours of paddling I swear I am going to hear that tick-tock in my dreams!! After an hour or so of paddling towards the beach, then resetting the shot, then paddling again, they seemed happy and we broke for lunch.

The crew were great, even as a lowly extra if you needed anything they were happy to get it for you – sunscreen, water, snacks (and I needed a lot of snacks) and the other extras were lovely. While we were waiting to film there was plenty of time for chatting, and it was amazing to find out how varied the people’s backgrounds were that were there. I met a psychiatric nurse, a prison guard, a teacher, a bartender, a single mum, even a former Olympic kayaker, all who did work as extras in their spare time. It’s pretty good money if you can work consistently in ‘Hollywood North’ apparently so many people had flexible schedules.

The second and third shots again consisted mostly of paddling back and forth in time behind the main actors, and they used a variety of cameras and equipment – the crane camera on tractor wheels was particularly impressive. We were filming on a private beach but even so managed to get in the way of some fishermen, presumably used to having the beach to themselves I don’t think they were too impressed with us scaring the fish away.

A day on the water is never a bad way to spend your time, but after take after take of paddling back and forth in the hot sun, I think I had had enough of that. So rest easy, blog followers, it was an awesome experience but I’m not packing my bag and heading for the bright lights of tinseltown just yet.

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