My Week in Hollywood

Several weeks back, my wife brought to my attention a casting call in the local newspaper for a major Hollywood production.  “Extras needed to play soldiers!”  Sensing my wife and daughter’s excitement, I agreed to email an inquiry with my picture and gave it little further thought.  To my surprise just hours later, I had a congratulatory confirmation that I was part of the cast.  A week later, I went for my fitting, which due to COVID (I was told) was much less glamourous than I envisioned – changing in a parking lot under a partially-covered tent.  After taking multiple COVID tests confirming my health, my week of filming arrived. 

The days started before dawn.  At “basecamp” I dressed in my uniform, then went to hair and makeup, involving a quick dab of hair grease and liquid dirt for my face and hands, then a decent craft service breakfast and then by bus to another holding location to wait for my call time.  The entire week was tiring, sometimes working up to 16 hours a day.  There was a lot of idle time as well, mixed in with bouts of exhilarating action and arduous standing and marching in the hot sun.

As a background soldier, I took on many physical tasks – charging down a hillside, engaging in hand-to-hand combat with prop weapons, while being encroached by galloping horses and pyrotechnics and lots of running across uneven terrain.  These moments gave me pause as a reminder of the perils of work not just for the background characters, the stunt persons or the stars of the film, but the production crew and those behind the camera who also brave the elements during rigorous work schedules. 

The film industry has a number of highly-paid individuals on location, including the director, the assistant director, the director of photography, the producers and the numerous production assistants among many others behind the camera who need disability protection.  Petersen International Underwriters has been pivotal in offering DI coverage to the entertainment industry for countless years with bespoke products like StarCover and Entertainment Industry DI.  Whether in front of or behind the camera, Petersen’s disability products provide true own occupation definitions of total disability, which allow for monthly benefit schedules or lump sum benefit schedules or both.  Recovering from my wounds, which included blisters and a lingering cough, I gleefully recount my week in Hollywood as an experience I will not forget and a telling reminder why disability insurance is so important, on or off the “battlefield.”