I belong to a model agency. It was LZ’s idea to help me find any work when we first arrived. In Japan. I have gotten a couple of calls, then I was otherwise busy and could not change. This time I get a notice to do a TV show fill in spot. I am to be part of a Sri-Lankan group of islanders that the Japanese Army is befriended and treats them special, they in turn are supportive to the Japanese and are willing to join them to fight the British. Yeah, I know what you are thinking on both count. No need to go there.
So yeah, I have arrangements made on where meetup with the camera team and other cast members for the day. Ok, my first time meeting others and doing a thing for TV. I am curious…
I am picked up at the station in a van. Part of the camera team and four other “gaijin” cast members. One guys speaks right away, mr friendly seems like a nice guy. The other three say nothing maybe one nodded, sort of. They all seemed out of it, still sleepy. Except mr friendly. He introduces himself and starts talking. He is from Africa, Zimbabwe, a White African from Zimbabwe,
. Hmmm, I thought and just rolled with it. He is married to a Japanese, has kids, blah blah…
The van stops at a port town, as we are headed via Boat to a little island to do the filming. Hmmmm cool I am thinking. It was a typical ferry-boat ride. Pretty smooth not really too long, not was it that much of an interesting view. Mr friendly stood next to me on the ride over. He told me about his childhood, his father, where he had travelled, his and his wife’s DNA findings, blah blah blah…
We landed on the small island, just off of Wakayama mainland. It was some kind of park, not just some island, as I had thought. Once we got organized after departing the boat we headed to the shooting site. There we are, the crew, Japanese, actors, Japanese, the fill bodies, 3 Black Americans, 1 Pakistani guy (I think), 1 White African, playing Sri-Lankans and a British Army officer.
This turned out to be on the top or near the top of the island mountain. We started to walk it was a well-defined road, trail, path to the shooting spot. Some kind of old partly underground building. No idea what it is. People kept coming throughout the shoot to sight see. So it must be something historic, not crowds of people just a few here and there. Those who came over on the ferry. The climb was not a big deal , but it was much more than just a stroll. The girl from the film crew was almost sick from the climb. She had a cold to start with so breathing was difficult. I could see her struggle on the way up. I could see. Her the whole way up which was about a 20 min hike all uphill. I could see her just behind mr friendly and myself. He was filling me in on more details of his life and his outlook on things,,blah blah blah…
We did a few scenes there at this place on top of the island, then it started raining. They did a few more shots under some thick trees, before packed it up and heading back down to the beach. At the beach it was really raining now. We again went under some thick trees for some settler before covering the camera and we went on the beach to shoot some.
It was starting to get cold now, with the winds, and rain. I was ready for this to be over, they kept going …
I was pleased I had the forethought to bring extra clothing, i started putting on layers. I was lucky being. Small guy I was not asked to go bare topped like a couple of the guys. They Were given wrap skirts and asked to go topless for the next couple of beach scenes. They were the fishing locals, i was in few shots also sometimes , but I was not a muscle dude. I got to stay dressed and warmer than the Hulks.
Finally the ferry returns and we group up and head back to the mainland. Kind of funny calling an Island the Mainland. Once back it poured rain.
The Hulks had to do a couple of beach scenes were they were catching octopus. They were being filmed being shown how to do it by the friendly helpful Japanese. This show os part of some regular TV program. Mr friendly , one other guy, named Raja from Pakistan I think it is. Hmm well anyway, we stayed in the van. We slept, it rained, and got paid. Ahhh some moments in life are better than others, which even trying to make them be. I am always grateful for those.
So, next up after lunch, the company paid. We ate at a ramen place. 😦 . I sat with the Japanese actor by chance. They went through a lot of effort to find me something a vegetarian could eat. It was a failure. I settled to help them feel at ease. I got some sort of ramen with veggies and ramen. The soup was of course meat base. To give them face, I ate a small bite of noodles, some cabbage and sliced carrot. I took in as little soup as possible and mostly ate the rice ball and bowl of rice. It was the worst overall meal, I had in a long time in Japan. I really did not see what the thrill was with Ramen and I love noodles. Sigh, so I think I handled it ok. I did not want to flat out say, no I will not eat that. I had been giving thought to the acceptance or refusal of gifts, offerings from the heart, from a Chan view. This seemed like a good balance.
After lunch we went to a place in downtown Osaka, and old office building that was sort of Art deco-ish. It was like being in Oakland rather than Osaka. We did a couple of scenes there. Well some of the cast did. The other sleepers from the van and myself still hung out, oh, wait ! No the Pakistani, sort of guy did a few shots and lines. Mr friendly and I sat.
Once the scenes there were done, it was now over to main TV studio. We went into a modern build ing, lots of people and security. Not on the scale of NBC in hollywood, but still a good size place. We wait. Mr friendly connects with me again. The questions/conversation now comes around to me, what do I do in Japan? It is now 7:00 pm. In the evening. So I tell him his next waterfall of words deals with his adventures into the martial arts…blah blah blah
We finally get the call to go shoot. We enter a room with a great window view. Not really a TV studio shooting room. The place more like a conference room. We shoot a couple of scenes. Mr friendly, Raja, and myself are now dress in suits. We are someone in the government. I think I am president of Sri Lanka. It is just us, we are having pretty close up shots, not face closeup but like table, desk, podium, closeups. Finally it is over. It is about 8:00 pm.
We say goodbye to each other. I ask about finding the train station. Mr friendly volunteer to show me the way. He is also going there. He is going to walk, it is not too far he says. Meanwhile Raja shows up before we take off. He want to go with us to get food, then go to the train. A big convo starts between, mr friendly and Raja. Raja figured out he knew Mr Friendly from another audition, they had been speaking lot early on the island. Some 20 min later, I am waiting to get to the train station, and thinking, OMG, when will this end! Finally we start walking, mr friendly is talking, asking questions that I did not really want to discuss with a stranger. At one point he asks, where do you have your kung fu training sessions? I respond such n such place. He says, oh, i would really like to come watch sometime! I smile, nod, and think to myself. Yeah that will never happen, but no word come forth. 30 min we are finally near the train station. However it is the wrong station. The correct station is just a couple of blocks, I am told. If I were him, says mr friendly, I would just walk, it is just right over here, pointing a map. Easier rather than hassle with changing trains. I looked at the signs all in Japanese, took a deep breath and we walk on to the next station. The next 10 min seemed like another 30. I am sure the street elongated with each step I suffered through, dragging my brain with having to listen to the unending chatter from mr friendly. Finally, reached a station from there I could get home. We said goodbyes, I thanked him for his help and added a little thankyou prayer to God for finally getting me away from the mouth.