Thursday, September 25, 2008

Post Titled: Nonfiction, sometime in the middle 2007

„Here, change your underwear“
„uhhm“ I look into a large clear plastic bag full of what appears to be cheapy elastic-puckered thongs.
“naw. That’s ok, ahm… I'll just keep my own on, thanks.”
“But they will be bloody and destroyed by the end of the day! Change.”
Staring at the larger, unhealthy looking middle-aged woman (who probably only exists in my memory) I looked back into the bag… there definitely didn’t seem to be any men’s underwear. At least nothing that fit my definition of men's underwear...
“but… these are ...girl’s underwear...”

"no, they are for men." I scrunched up my face before the bag of thongs.
"but they really look like women's underwear...
“no, they are all men’s underwear!
Since the entire side of my pants leg was charred and basically missing- a hole- no, just open, like Jessica Rabbit, but charred, pale, bloody and hairy. In that case I really just wanted to stick with my ratty black boxer-briefs… “no, it is fine, no thanks”
“but your underwear will be destroyed!
"it's fine. They are old, tattered, and it is dark to begin with. Won't matter. Thanks though..."

She finally gives up and huffs at my lack of compliance, turning she toddles off back to the maze of clothing racks and boxes full of bags, full of shoes, full of belts, hats, holsters, etc...

I then spend a good 40 minutes sitting in a barber's chair getting worked on by a white-haired guy who kept applying gnarly fake skin swatches and constructing bloody gashes to all exposed skin above my shoulders and below my waist. I didn't have a mirror in front of me, but judging from the things he seemed to be putting on my face I was headed towards Ahhnold in Terminator 2- large chunky areas of exposed tissue, (no metal skeleton poking-through though.)

I kept looking at the old man’s make-up toolbox on the table in front of me. It opened and folded out like a fly fisherman’s box, multi-leveled and packed with tools of the trade. On the vertical portions random snapshots and Polaroids of past people he’d made-up, many of whom looked very familiar but the only one I could label by name was Alan Rickman, brooding with a pale white face and dark eyes, looking like the angel of death whom you would actually want to have as the angel of death; stern, slightly intimidating, but funny- that dry humour, so charming 7 not particularly friendly, a respectable chap, ...familiar ... with a great voice.

I was slowly shocked as my face became completely grotesque. I could just barely see the reflection in the small glass window of a door across the room. The guy grumbled and hummed and went about his business of messing me up. A very soft cloth baggie of what looked like fine gunpowder was plop-plop-plopped on my face about a thousand times, brushed away, repeated, etc.
I stepped out into the waiting room, which was now about full of other men, half of which were now zombie-like like myself, but apparently I looked particularly bad because everyone who looked up suddenly put on the “OooowwwH!” face and winced, the same sorts of faces we put on while watching guys wrack themselves on rails in the bloopers sections at the end of skate videos. Brutal.
The guys in the waiting room are from everywhere. Gambia, Poland, Nigeria, Ukraine, Berlin. The very ordinary officespace-type room is full of the standard fold-out beerfest tables and benches, the lacquered ones with green metal legs which click into place when set-up properly. I sit next to a quiet blonde guy with muscles three or four times the size of mine- maybe more even- maybe five or six times the size of mine- and I am not a small guy, but HE is enormous, a HE-MAN, a WWF wrestler, sitting there quietly I try not to stare so let the mind wanter and start thinking about Rutger Hauer for some reason and how much I love Harrison Ford and Chewbacca and the Millennium Falcon. Across from me is one of the Africans, looking impatient and trying to decipher the paperwork. Everyone has paperwork and there are only 2 or 3 pens circulating amongst 20 people. I still find it amazing that these guys are all supposed to be American... the Slavic dudes look Slavic, chiseled cheekbones and handsome jaw-lines, and the African guys are mostly straight out of Africa. All the untraceable cartoonish childishness of the average American face in hardly to be found.
I got on a bus with these guys and promptly fell asleep. When I awoke, we were on the autobahn and there was just concrete, green green grass, and shiny new-ish looking buildings. We wound around these shiny new buildings- big supermarkets, a university, and even American-sized parking lots. These places did not exist in Germany until the 1990s. Then they started popping up on the edges of villages, between villages, in industrial districts. It all had the crisp German sensibility coupled with the disastrous US suburban sprawlishness and that fakey feeling of something that is too carefully planned...

In an opposing not-AS-large parking lot, one with holes and weeds in the asphalt, there were rows and rows of vehicles all opened and spread out interconnectedly like a caravan-village. Some full-on mobile workshops or tool sheds, many bored fire department trucks and firepeople, some attractive firegirls, more benches, an old-fashioned double-decker bus in the middle, we got off one bus and onto the double-decker and waited. It was hot and dull and no one had cards because all of our belongings were in little baggies back in Berlin. One Nigerian guy had smuggled a camera and we took turns taking fotos of us, the Russians smiling with the Nigerians, everyone warming up and getting a bit playful for what seemed like it might be a long day.

Heat, boredom, running over to pee behind the guard rail and peeling through the utility belts, then three layers of battle dress uniform –not so fun but what else was there to do. I keep drinking juice, tea, coffee and eventually they serve soup-line style a meaty spaghetti bolognese, (grrr, vegetarian) I just eat the French bread. The fire department didn’t feel like chatting and if I spoke any further to the other guys then they might ask where I was from and it was far too early in the day to be outed as an American. I wanted to wander to the mega grocery store for some non-meat food but i couldn't- i was a severly injured zombie-looking soldier, it just would've worked, "this is a small town, they have heart-attacks or call the police or something, sh*t." All throughout the day kids stream back and forth from a music conservatory somewhere in the military complex. They seem perplexed.
(Fast Forward a few hours.)
We are finally allowed to get close to the center of activity. Before then there was commotion, building activity, welding, trucking, carting, delivery all into the entrance of this very dull military base building, but.half a day of prep work and the old abandoned American Military facility is ready. We are allowed in, walking up a few stairs, then a landing, entrance, a few more stars and then two huge tanks, of compressed gas amongst many rubble machines set to blow. I wander through the entire building. The rooms themselves are all full of real rubble, dangling wires, old newspapers, the most recent I could find was from 1995. All the paint was bubbling, peeling, crumbling off the walls and ceilings. Some of the windows were gone, and most of the door handles. Toilets were cracked completely in-half, the water had been off for years, and there was nothing but dust, crap, and more rubble. It was hard to believe... I wandered to the back of the building and found a bathroom which had been rhinocerized. Looking out the window there were two kids walking home from school. They looked up at me just standing there in the broken window and they saw: a 1970's American soldier covered in blood int he frame of a broken window in a dark bathroom of an abandoned building... and at that moment I thought: now I understand where ghost stories can come from.

Everything of interest had been scavenged long long ago. A polish guy chatting on his mobile simply throws a glass Coke bottle down the hall, it shatters. No one seems to care, they are all busy with anticipation or on the verge of being completely fed-up with waiting.

We are escorted into two small rooms on either side of the main entrance, and wait. We receive instructions and wait. The whole front of the building is set to blow, they are not reeeeallly sure what will happen, but there will be only one take so do it right. Yelling, screaming terror, run like men in shock, pain and fear. There is one large black man with a very passable American accent, turns out he is a bouncer at some big club, he will lead the charge while the rest of us shout obscenities and get the eff out.
There are two very nice women going around with jugs, gauze, @-tips and turkey basters dabbling us with fresh blood constantly, I think all in all I have at least a liter of blood all over my body and saturating the burnt-away parts of my clothing, weighing me down. Out of boredom and for a more authentic look I roll in the dust, concrete crumbles, dirt and plaster of the floor. More waiting more waiting, we sing and joke in our post-apocalyptic state.
Things are moving forward, there is a fake run-through where we are indeed laughing and yelling- of course until we burst through the front door and stumble, crawl, slither to the front lawn and the jeeps pull up, people run to help us, we are choking on the fake smoke and our limbs no longer function like they did just a minute ago. There are two run-throughs, then we are b´packed back into our tiny rooms "well, the explosives have never been set off so we are not sure what will happen when they actually DO go off..." they say- then countdown, "3, 2, 1 action!" and a phenomenal explosion rocks the building, the ceiling-high windows next to me all blow out completely sending chunks and shards of glass raining down and flying everywhere but the camera is rolling and gotta "EVVRYBODDY GET THE FUCK OUT! GET THA FUCK OUT!" Shouts the black guy and we are a yelling, swearing and truly scared stampede in a room, hall, stairwell full of the acrid (always acrid) and potent smell of freshly set-off explosives. "RUNRUNRUN GO-GO-GO GETTHEFUCKOUTGOGOGO", there is rubble everywhere and then we bottleneck at the door. The awning above the front entrance has collapsed (which was intentional) but there is rubble and broken glass everywhere covering the landing, ground,stairs, and sidewalk- I am choking of fake smoke and slip don the stairs on and into a pile of glass shards but I just keep going, i think a Polish guys comes to my assistance and I collapse really hamming it up on the font lawn but actually still coughing because of the smoke and dust. Everyone is laying around, bleeding, moaning, and we just continue to lat there as cameras hover around us.

They re-film portions of things, including a scene with a normal-looking white guy who stumbles around the doorway positively spurting high-pressure blood from his body. In real-life this looks like the most fakest thing in the world, but the magic of film somehow must erase most of that doubt...
I was such a mess that I really couldn't get on the bus like this- so somehow I convinced somebody to let me into the Director's trailer to shower. Try as I might, I could not get all the grit, blood and gravel down the drain, not to mention the tiny bathroom was thereafter streaked with blood from my pants/ knees/ elbows and ass all hitting the walls of the tiny trailer bathroom as I attempted to hurry. By the end it was pretty-much looking like if you'd stabbed a wild boar and let him loose in there... but I left a sorry/thank you note in the kitchen drawer on the back of an expired U-Bahn ticket.
Got on the bus, everyone was waiting, exhausted looking pissed. I shrugged, "sorry" and dozed-off on the trip back to Berlin. The one African guy who took fotos disappeared somehow as soon as we arrive back, so- well... I have images in my mind.

NOTE: The above text a non-fictional account of my memory of working as an extra in the film
“der Baader Meinhof Komplex”
which opens today, September 25, 2008, in theaters across Germany.

Kino Baader Bader Meinhof Complex regiseur Uli Edel dreh baader-meinhof 25.sept, 2008 moritz bleibtreu schauspieler mit Martina Gedeck, Moritz Bleibtreu, Johanna Wokalek und Bruno Ganz. Ab 25. September 2008 im Kino Der neue Film von Uli Edel

Labels: , , ,

Google Book Search


Post a Comment

<< Home