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Punisher Casting Call...
The Ordeal & The Dream

To read Part Two, Click Here.

The Punisher Part One: Casting Call

Brunette girl: "So what is this movie about anyway?"
Blonde girl: "It's a Marvel comic."
Brunette: "Another one?!?
Blonde: "Yeah, another one."

So...being a comic fan and a movie fan, when I heard there was going to be an open casting call for extras for the Punisher movie, I knew I had to be there. By all reports, the event was scheduled to take place Saturday, July 19th, from 12 Noon to 4 PM at the Florida Aquarium in downtown Tampa. Friday night, I doublechecked my directions and maps (I live an hour from Tampa), picked out a photo, and dug out my copy of the first Rising Stars novelization in case I was bored while waiting in line.

The ordeal begins.

Rounding the first corner.

I debated about how early to get there, deciding to try to make it between 10 and 11. As someone on a message board pointed out this week, not only did you have to worry about the swarm of fanboys sure to turn out for the event, you also had to worry about every stagemom in Tampa dragging their kids down there hoping they'll be discovered.

After a quick trip to Walgreens in the morning for film and sunblock, I was on my way around 10 Saturday morning. Everything was running smoothly until I got a few blocks from the aquarium, then I hit the traffic jam. The Tampa Police were already directing traffic past the aquarium parking entrance.

A Punisher fan dresses for the occasion.

Getting closer...and the hopefuls keep coming.

Parking turned out not to be a problem, however. Although it took 20 minutes for the traffic to weave its way inside, I was able to get a great spot in the Channelside parking garage. So I quickly headed over to the front of the aquarium, walking past several news vans in the process. Okay, the line weaves around the problem. runs past the next building. Does it ever end?!? When I found the end of the line, it was already winding back and forth in the one of the Port Terminal parking lots. Although I had considered giving up if things looked too crazy, I figured I might as well get in line since I was going to have to rest just to find the strength to walk back to my car.

The Channel 8 film crew interviewing the potentials... just one of several local tv stations covering the event.
So, I finally made it in line about 11:30. Interestingly, the line was already moving, despite the announced starting time of 12 Noon. Stuck out in the open, I followed the lead of several others and used my umbrella to block the sun. And the wait began.

Making the trip by myself, I started paying attention to the people around me. A local wrestler that I wasn't familiar with was talking to a guy about his street fight that night at the Florida Wrestleplex in St. Pete. Right behind me was Phil Glassman, an actor whose movie credits include The Scorpion King, Phone Booth, and Minority Report.

Almost inside! Hollywood, here I come!

His friend in line with him was an experienced extra. They estimated the crowd at this point to be around 3,000 people. But the line kept moving. I overheard a guy I recognized from local comic shows talking about having arrived at 8 that morning. He said they started letting people in at 11, and he was already finished with the process. His buddy was going down the line trying to warn those under 18 that it did them no good to wait in line as minors had to mail in their information. Some might have heeded his warnings but a lot of kids stuck it out anyway.

I kept an eye out for people wearing comic-oriented shirts. I spotted 4 or 5 Punisher shirts and 1 guy in a Superman t-shirt, but that was it.

Some teenage girls in the line were excited by the presence of current and former cast members of MTV's The Read World being there filming something. I never did find out what that was all about.

As we got close to the aquarium, a film crew from the local NBC affiliate, Channel 8, interviewed some of the people in line.

As we neared the entrance to the building, crew members passed out forms for everyone to fill sheets for guys, pink sheets for girls. In addition to contact information and physical characteristics, they wanted to know our availability, our clothing sizes, and the make and model of our cars.

Finally, we made it inside the building! First we were shuffled into a room full of people scrambling to get their forms filled out. I was able to do mine as we walked so I saved a couple of minutes there and moved on. Next, about 75 of us went into a big room to hear the casting director (Ellen Jacoby?) tell us what was what.

Filming starts August 2nd and continues for 3 months. Extras will get 3 to 7 days notice. Calls start next week, but you might not get a call for a month. Or two months. If you haven't got a call in three months, you're not getting one. The bad news is that they only need about 2,000 extras. Spread out over 3 months of filming, that isn't very much. The good news is that if you get a call, you will be used and are more likely to actually be seen on the screen. Pay is $75 a day. Extras are required to be on the set for 12 hours. 10 hours of shooting and an hour for lunch. I don't know where the 12th hour comes in. If they go past 10 hours of filming, you get paid overtime. Shooting will take place days and nights at locations to be determined, but the film will be shot in Tampa and takes place in Tampa. Good luck!

So that was it. After 2 and a half hours of waiting in line, now the real wait begins to see if I get a phone call. The funniest part was everyone worrying about whether they wore the right clothes or not or how terrible they were going to look after sweating in the sun so long. No one got an individual look. We were just herded through like cattle. Makes you wonder why they made everyone go through such an unnecessary process. They could have just handed everyone an application and an info sheet and be done with it. But maybe it was a psychological test. If you were crazy enough to wait in the sun for hours to fill out the application, just maybe you're actually crazy enough to work as an extra.

Okay, phone, so ring already!

Go on to Part Two.

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