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My Short Story of Being an Extra on a Movie Set

By Cleon T. Day, III, CPS

Extra: "A background actor or extra is a performer in a film, television show, stage, musical, opera or ballet production, who appears in a nonspeaking or non-singing (silent) capacity, usually in the background (for example, in an audience or busy street scene".

I have been an extra on two films and two commercials back in the eighties. My first time working on a movie set began when a friend asked me if I would like to work as an extra. The film was being shot in an open field somewhere outside of Atlanta and they were paying $75. It was during a weekday so I took a vacation day from work.

“Go Tell It On The Mountain” starring late veteran actor Paul Winfield was the movie I’m to “star” in this day. It was a period film, 1035, the set was a dusty old backwoods town in the South with a dirt road running through it. I was given a period costume, a white long sleeve shirt with puffed sleeves, a pair of brown britches with brown suspenders, a brown wool jacket, brown boots and a wool cap.

Call time for extras was 12 o’clock noon. There were three scenes being shot that day. I was in the first and last scene. The entire shoot lasted 14 hours, we finished shooting at 2 a.m. in the morning. Of course we weren’t told ahead of time how long it would be and everyone wasn’t in all three scenes.
What I found to be most interesting in being on a movie set is the scene may be three to five minutes, however, the amount of the time spent in setting up camera shoots between each shoot. Of course, retakes (reshoots) are unavoidable but still, waiting around between takes does become tiresome. Although, we did have a table full of sweets and fruits to eat between takes and a meal break with catered food. The actors ate first and then the extras. I can’t remember what we ate but I do remember it tasted good, and we could have seconds!

As the day unfolded into the night the weather started getting colder, good thing I had a jacket. It was time to shoot the third scene so the director called on the remaining extras. He asked me to run past the storefronts because I was being chased. After the first take, “our” director told me I did well but for the camera I needed to slow down. He said, a “normal chase” run on camera looks like a flash and not a person. I told him okay. Then for the next take the director asked me to remove the jacket and now I was at the mercy of a cold night.

After two more shoots the director said “Cut, that’s a rap and thank you”! I just shot my first movie! Wow! I did get to see Paul Winfield shoot one scene, the second one and he was done for the day while I had to stay and finish the day’s shoot.

I can’t remember how long it took for the TV movie to come out but I was able to catch it. It was my hope neither of my two scenes ended up on the cutting floor. The first scene I shot showed me next to baskets of real fruit (which they told us not to take because there was polish on it to give it a gloss). I was sitting in a rocking chair on the porch of a local grocery store. I was still in it, yeah! In my last scene where I ran I got a surprise, after I had passed the storefronts there was some people yelling behind me. Oh my Lord, I was being chased by the Ku Klux Kalan. Their scene wasn’t filmed the same day I performed. It was funny! 

Couples, Dinner & Show is our premier dining restaurant offering a fusion cuisine and featuring the best talents in our community who may very well get their start here. Television and film productions will find it to be a beautiful space for filming a scene(s) with its innovating concept!

This unique dining experience has tables for what else, couples, its motto is Couples “where no one has to eat alone”. You can come in with a friend, a partner, a date, a spouse or come alone and if you’re open to it, we will seat you with another single person to get to know, separate bills of course! Remember, you don’t have to walk down the aisle with them; you’re just eatin’ and taking in a show.

We will have singers, musicians, dancers and entertainers from our community giving their all. Couples, Dinner & Show and other spaces throughout the complex will feature artwork in various forms, paint, pencil, pen, charcoal, photography, sculpture and other artistic work from the LGBT community.

It is a wonderful opportunity to market our talents to the world. Who knows, an artist work may be featured in a movie, television show or video shoot shot on site. We call Couples, Dinner & Show, very, very sexy! As in Tina Turner’s “Rollin’ Down the River”, sometimes we like it nice and easy and sometimes we like it nice and rough, rollin’ down the river”.

Our live dinner show is very, very adult, featuring male and female singers singing with a sexy twist. We won’t reveal it to you now; you have to see it to believe it. From time to time you may see a high profile singer performing a selection of their upcoming new songs.

Oh, we’re not leaving our audience out of the performances, in each act we will be involving members from our audience, of course, not forcibly but I can’t see why anyone would resist. Stay tuned!

Couples, Dinner & Show is also a location for dining scenes in a video, television and movie shoot. Catering is available to principals, extras, staff and production teams.


The Grand Prize Theater

Grand Prize Theater is a unique format for the film industry; television and movie scenes can be filmed, as well as videos can be shot. Also, it’s a wonderful space to hold focus groups or private movie screenings. 

It is a theater in the round with a hydraulic stage in the middle. Synergy is generated throughout the venue using couches rather than chairs for the guests. The design of the theater’s interior has been created to give an up close and personal feel.

The theater also serves as a private space where men can meet men without fear of any homophobia deterrence around. It is a unique way for men to meet the man they want to meet and having to experience “a fear of rejection”.

We’re keeping a lot under wraps and not revealing it now but stay tuned.  Oh but there is one thing more, there’s no charge to get in, compliments of our CEO!

The Grand Prize Theater Filming

Happy Couple

Wedding Bells Blues

We have two beautiful halls to wed and receive guests in for a reception. Film makers have a number of uses for these rooms, one even transforms into an indoor/outdoor pool & deck. The pool area is an excellent space to shoot a pool party music video!

“Here comes the Brides, here comes the Guys”! Wedding Bells Blues is not a space recently converted over from a place once refusing to marry same-sex couples to now marrying them since gays can now legally get married.

Wedding Bells Blues is an original, a place designed and focused on same sex couples and welcoming of all couples! Our wedding packages are about you the couple; we are here to support you with your ideas!

You Ought to be in Movies, You Ought to be the Star

Grand Prize is a single experience for film makers to have some options in a free standing facility, shooting in one location. Directors looking for unique settings The GPS Experience is just for you! Our premier restaurant, Couples, Dinner & Show, a sculpture shaped diamond in the sky elevated above the roof.

The GPS Experience has a green room for the principals and their entourage. We also have a game room are available to pass the time between shoots. Catering is available for the production crew, principals and extras are also a plus. The facility also has an intimate theater in the round which seats 700. There are two Grand indoor/outdoor ballrooms, one converting into a pool and deck!

Couples, Dinner & Show has a touch of the upscale restaurants during the “Big Band Era” with the big stage, intimate seating and orchestra area. Although it’s scaled down, it still gives you feeling of a grand space. The dining room seats 500, which includes an enclosed balcony.

Singles Who Love Seeing Movies and Film Directors Who Love Making Them

The GPS Experience is an upscale mixed use development facility providing a safe space for homosexuals to mingle in a non-bar and club environment. Spacious, yet intimate spaces have been designed for couples to meet, dine, date, swim, sunbathe, or have a grand wedding. The complex not only features social spaces but also has rental space for filming television & movie productions as well as shooting music videos.


Grand Prize Theater & More…

Grand Prize Theater is an intimate mix use facility where a television commercial might be shot or a music video. From indie films to big movie productions to blockbuster’s sequels the theater can add that touch you may be looking for in a certain scene. It is a classy, state of the art production environment!

We created a flexible space to accommodate production wants and needs. Theater is so important to the Arts and having a facility to complement its vision is what we had in mind in our planning. This is a wonderful atmosphere not only for moving making but to hold prescreening and auditions! Keep making us laugh, cry and a little bit scared!

As we said earlier, the Grand Prize Theater is a mix use space. Its intimate setting is not only used by filming industry but also serves as a safe space for single men to meet and greet other single men. It’s hard for men to meet men without the fear of men whose orientation is hatred.

Sometimes men can tell “family” (men with the same sexual orientation) when they see them but it still isn’t enough. The men might not feel comfortable to acknowledge their each other out in public. Being the initiator or on the receiving end, there’s a fear of being outted if approached which stops both of them from meeting one another! The Grand Prize Theater meeting space eliminates that fear!


(continued from "Why do we make movies, create television shows or film music videos?")

Television

“The idiot box” is a statement not heard very often but still has an impact. Television is referred to as “the idiot box” because of its content. In recent times, brainless comedies, real time news of the evils of the world, endless gossip magazine format and Reality TV seems to make its point. However, when television first began it was for sharing intelligent information and educating the masses.

Television is still providing informative information and raising the level of knowledge on health. The content is really based on what you want to see, some of it might be targeting you but you make the final decision. There are some good things happening on the box and people are tuning on in large numbers! Despite some questionable entertainment, it’s not likely to go out of business anytime soon.

Video

Merging film and music for the first time, in 1984, MTV aired Michael Jackson’s 13-minute “Thriller”. The ground- breaking video was inducted into the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress in 2009 -- the first music video to ever receive this honor -- for being “culturally, historically or aesthetically” It is the most downloaded Halloween- them hit of all time, according to data from Nielsen SoundScan.

During the filming of Bruce Springsteen's concert music video at the St. Paul Civic Center in 1984, little known actress Courteney Cox got to dance on stage with Bruce. Some say that exposure help her land a role on the 80’s sitcom “Family Ties” And as we all know, Ms. Cox went on to star in the 90’s, 2000 acclaimed sitcom “Friends” and most recently “Cougar Town, still in re-runs! There have been a number of star discovered through video!

As you can see, there are a number of reasons we do film, for entertainment and discovery new talent! Georgia is a great place to film. Throughout Atlanta you can see a number of production shoots going on. There are a number of movies, television segments and video being shot here!


An Open Letter to the LGBT Community

Grand Prize Singles Experience, LLC is not a political organization, however, when you are in a group that has been marginalized by society, it goes with the territory! In the challenging post-election anxiety we really don't know what's going to happen. Some of the things we have gained in the LGBT community, their allies and advocates may be in jeopardy.

One thing I do know, we're not going to let "them" roll back anything without a fight. In 2018 and the next 4 years there is going to be "the power of resistance" taking over if our rights are taken away or future rights are stopped. Power to the people!

On December 4th The Army Corps did not approve an easement necessary to permit the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline to cross under Lake Oahe in North Dakota. The very loud outcry of resistance who have protested the oil pipeline over recent months was a big victory for the Native American tribes and thousands of others!

It can be done, despite this administration's possible attempts to rework The United States Constitution and president executive Orders! Stand with us, support LGBT entrepreneurs and invest in our community!
By Cleon T. Day, III, CPS
CEO Grand Prize Singles Experience, LLC


Georgia, Hollywood of the South?

 Besides the Peachtree Streets names, Atlanta is known as the “home of reality shows”, from the most watched housewives show franchises, the “Real Housewives of Atlanta”, to doctors and their wives reality show entitled “Married to Medicine, to the upcoming (2017) Daytime Divas, Atlanta is a reality. It’s also a test market for reality shows, recently trialing the reality show “The Preachers” earlier this year. If you can make it here, you can syndicate it anywhere!

“Dish Nation”, a popular entertainment news format syndicated television show is filmed here. Hosted by comedian Ricky Smiley and his team of national celebrities informing viewers of the trending gossip, reporting celebrity news, giving hilarious commentaries and having international stars gracing its studio.

There are very three popular shows from the dark side of the moon filmed here, “The Walking Dead”, The Vampire Diaries” and The Originals. By the way, one day a friend and I were at the Whole Foods on Ponce De Leon and saw actor/model Charles Michael Davis who portrays Marcel Gerard, a vampire turned by Klaus, his former protégé. We found Mr. Davis to be a very pleasant and genuine person!

You will see a number of celebrities spotting throughout Atlanta from the music, television and movie industry. In Atlanta, stars are able to move around freely without being bombarded by the paparazzi and aggressive fans, “Southern Comfort”! That’s a good reason for more celebrities to make Atlanta their second home!

The GPS Experience is an ideal shoot location, and will give you a taste of that “Southern Comfort”, making you feel at home!