I am no tarot card expert but I have come to this conclusion:
The Hanged Man card is most representational of the Film Extra. A modern deck could include a card called Film Extra and it would still be all about surrender, non-action, yielding…
Extras are things fluctuating between living beings and set props- Between subject and object- stalled out between heaven and earth. They are ‘bound’ hurriedly in costume and makeup then left hang around waiting. When they find a comfort zone something is undoubtedly changed and they are forced to redefine their comfort levels yet again. They are able to see the value of hanging around. Their vantage points are always unusual, surreal.
Many of my days since the beginning of this year have gone into being “awake” and present in this place of suspension. Ready and waiting no matter what the hour. Stuck on the set. Or in holding- which is never too far from the set.
My reward for this? I play make-pretends with famous-er people who remain as aloof as possible. But then I get to meet a whole host of other folks in the same holding patterns.
My fellow extras, unlike the famous-er people, are get-to-know-able. We spend twelve (and often many more) hours out of a day together sans internet connection. What else can you do but bond?
A lot of sharing happens anyway without social media: stories, jokes (of the delightfully lowest quality), business plans, interpersonal dramas, cigarettes. Then some where in there we experience being placed and directed on set.
We extras are never considered actors; not even part of the crew. But, begging your pardon Gentle Readers, fuck you -all you production targ dren who uphold pointless hierarchical systems. Systems which keep extras at a sub-human status level. Is the Hanged Man treated as a lesser Major Arcana? I think not.
If you sit me in the sun (I hate being in the sun bloody sunshine!) to “enjoy” a meal made of food I cannot even put in my mouth, then this is acting. I am an actor pretending the sun does not effect me, pretending to dine on “food.”
I am not a field-hand, a pet, or child. Nor am I an idiot. I do notice when the ‘umbrella boy’ does not give shade to everyone sitting at the same blasted table, under the same yellow hot sun. I do see the trays of food and drinks brought around to everyone else but extras.
How will this dynamic be broken down so that we become more equal players together? Will there be a revolution for us in the coming months? I can only hope. Injustice is injustice. Especially for us who are now known well enough by face if not by name on the set.
Apart from the conviviality, at chance moments we retreat into solitary activities: sleeping, reading or, in my case, writing. Con tanto tiempo en mis manos, I don’t want it to carelessly flit from me without some record of what transpired behind the scenes- beside the scenes is more accurate. (¡Si-món!) Memory is less than reliable and we are not allowed to have recording devices with us. I also just wanted to keep up the writing habit in me. It’s easier to scrawl phrases than to even do any stretches in my fligging uncomfortable camo pants, military grade fanny pack and ploddy-clod stumble boots. Escribo en un cuaderno y there amid my endless remarks about being mentally incapable of conjuring language to express my experiences, I do manage to come up with salvageable kernels of poetry.
Here’s a is light revision of something written while at a holding location; during an unusual weather event:
Feeling nothing when the cup of drug hits
Not even sure if it has hit
A ball bounces off the tarp
Whets my awe
The Ocean has heard my railings against the Sun
He sends a fog to sneak around these now green hills
My eyes open to inhale that abundance of green
Irises can open easier and peer through
Shifting, obscuring grey tones
Without excess radiation burning them
The whole of my form retreats from its most expanded borders
Greedy, I breathe water vapors
Horses whinny in the middle distance
They graze as muted silhouettes
Human chatter rises and falls from around the tents
Of those sounds I was heard
The frisbee flies
Frisbee and flies
Baseball catch and
Fog off the Pacific
Around my shoulders
Raven wings around my head