“Is he dead?”
My 14-year-old son lay motionless in the pasture of a Buckfield farm and all I could do was laugh. It didn’t help that the question was posed by a man whose wardrobe resembled a chance meeting between an amorous peacock and Liberace’s closet.
Max wasn’t dead, just tired. In fact, he died the day before, as did I and a horde of others, dozens of times in the same field. We grimaced, flailed, convulsed, winced, flopped and dropped. We continued to die until the crooked-toothed, hunchbacked man on the horse was satisfied.
The glamorous life of a movie extra is not for the faint of heart.
Atop the horse and under the hunch was Mike Miclon, a man who’s spent the past 30 years creating, performing and filming around the globe. He’s entertained at the White House, Germany’s Keller Theater, The Victoria Jungfrau Hotel in Switzerland and the Festa Americana in Italy. On this beautiful September afternoon we stood in his pasture as he guided us through the Battle of Bosworth Field, an epic scene in his latest brainchild, a feature length tragedy-turned-comedy Richard3.
I enrolled myself and Max after receiving a call for extras via e-mail. We viewed the trailer online and were immediately sold. Along with Miclon, we saw more familiar faces in the local entertainment scene like Matt and Jason Tardy (Audiobody), David Tardy (Audiobody’s dad), and Fritz Grobe (Diet Coke and Mentos explosions).
The trailer had a ‘Monty Python and the Holy Grail’ vibe; a film that makes me swell with pride when I hear my kids recite its timeless comedic brilliance. Sure, they can recall the fan favorite Black Knight and Killer Rabbit scenes, but they’re also well versed in Constitutional Peasant, Tim the Enchanter and Roger the Shrubber (he arranges, designs and sells shrubberies). Richard3 presented an opportunity for us to be part of something special, something Python-esque, right in our own backyard…well, Miclon’s backyard.
Miclon, the producer, director and star of the film, didn’t get the hundreds of extras he was hoping for, but that did little to dampen anyone’s spirits, especially the extras, as it only increased our chances of silver-screen immortality.
After a morning of giving and taking lives, Miclon’s Boo Dog Films crew treated us to a lunch buffet starring pulled pork sandwiches with support from pasta salad, biscuits, cookies and apples. I went back for seconds on everything while Max put a considerable dent in the cookie supply.
Then we earned a promotion. No longer an unwilling, unskilled army of misfits, our burlap peasant tabards were exchanged for regal blue and white. Our primitive weapons were swapped for swords and shields. We were now an elite fighting unit preparing for a battle of massive proportions with the army we’d just killed…sort of. Our orders were to look menacing, march in unison and ignore the increasing amount of horse droppings in our path. How’s that for incentive to get it right on the first take? Didn’t happen. My shoes will vouch for me.
Losing sunlight and looking over our exhausted faces, Miclon announced a wrap for the day, but asked us to come back the next morning for more battle footage. Max was game, as was I and about half of our new group of friends.The emotional and physical demands of movie making were no match for this nameless, faceless crew.
We began Sunday with varying degrees of sword-shaking, yelling and running followed by intense spurts of running, yelling and sword shaking. Then it was back to the field for the final scene where the elite army surrounds Richard and his adversary, Richmond (Grobe) in a climactic fight to the death. We stood in the hot sun for hours providing a human backdrop. That’s when Max attempted to nap, prompting Grobe to inquire about his pulse.
Here we are six months later and the first cut of Richard3 is set to premiere at the new Emerge Film Festival on June 14. You can bet the Turcotte clan will be there. Max will be wearing his peasant tabard – the dying scene was his favorite; I’ll sport the elite garb and promise to hold my battle cries until the closing credits.
Miclon will then submit his labor of love to the…uh…holy grail of independent film, the Sundance Film Festival, which begins Jan. 22, 2015 in Park City, Utah.
So, “Is he dead?” Well, depending on what the editors and judges think, Max just might live forever.