By Brian Prisco | Industry | September 7, 2010 |
By Brian Prisco | Industry | September 7, 2010 |
Finally, I get to use my powers of acting for awesome and not just for good! The news from Indiana is that a young 24-year-old extra was injured during a stunt reshoot during filming for Transformers 3. Reading the accounts from the other trade news sites is just … it’s kind of adorable how completely fucking wrong they are getting things in order to make a hyperbolic statement like: Girl Nearly Crippled In Stunt Mishap Paid Only $25! Fuck you, responsible journalism, we want a flashy headline. Hey, did you hear that Jennifer Aniston Adopted Bat-Boy? It’s on Weekly World News! You fucktards.
Early reports stated that the extra was driving her car during the stunt shoot — which involved flying cars and explosions because it’s a fucking Michael Bay movie — being towed behind a second car by a tow rig. Apparently, a steel cable snapped and came through the windshield, striking the girl across her forehead. Her car sped onward, and crashed into a median. The girl was airlifted to a hospital, and there she remains with critical injuries. And all because they paid her just $25 to use her car in the shoot! Paramount followed this with a statement saying the girl was not part of any stunt, she was several feet away, that is was not a steel cable, and that it was just a freak accident.
Common sense and my experience as a “background performer” makes me lean slightly towards Paramount’s version of the story. Here’s why. First of all, let’s talk pay. Living in Indiana, this girl was more likely than not a non-union extra. Anyone who isn’t in the unions (SAG or AFTRA) is considered non-union. It doesn’t matter if you’re seen in the shot, or if you’re actively running back and forth screaming and flailing or if you’re just sitting there sipping a soda, you all get paid 64/8, which means for 8 hours or work (or 9 counting the lunch break) you get paid $64. They probably gave her a bump for her car — which was the $25 — which seems about right. You get bumps for all sorts of shit — wearing more than one of your own outfits, if it rains or if there’s smoke, all sorts of junk. So this girl wasn’t exactly rolling in the dough, but she got paid about $89 for the day’s work.
Which tells me that there is more chance of Frosty fucking a roaring fireplace than this gal being involved in the stunt. If they are going to destroy your car, if there’s even the remotest chance that your car could get damaged, they are not going to pay you a $25 bump. Her car was treated just like an extra. Which means it was set somewhere away from the main action. They have stunt people who they pay a hell of a lot of money to to get hurt. Accidents happen, ask John Landis. But to say that a professional studio film would physically put an extra knowingly in harm’s way? No fucking way. Because, she can sue.
I read over one of my extra vouchers just to double check. Essentially, if you’re doing everything you were supposed to, and you get hurt, the studio is responsible for every fucking bit of that damage to you. Worker’s comp, the damage to your vehicle, the damage to you, and any sort of hospital bills that you incur. Paramount’s gonna be paying that. If this girl decided to climb up on a hill to see the shot better and she was beaned in the noggin, she’d be in a shitload of trouble, and she’s gonna have to foot all the bills. But she was in her car, which was basically set dressing for the intents and purposes of that scene they were shooting.
Now, I believe the initial reports that she was probably in a tow rig, and that some sort of freak accident caused something to come whipping through her windshield. Whether that was a jagged piece of metal or the tow cable is kind of besides the point, but that’s probably how she was injured. And obviously, she was driving, since the car kept going and crashed. It wasn’t part of the stunt, it’s not like they were towing her car and hurling her through the air as one of the exploding vehicles. Because she’d be paid lots of money to do that, and I don’t care how starving an actor, she wouldn’t be offering up her vehicle for $25.
Case in point: my girlfriend Jenny and I were in the season finale of “Grey’s Anatomy.” (And though you saw lots of people, I was there, and I got paid the same $64 they all did, even though I was nowhere near the camera.) We were in the scene where the gunman tries to climb the staircase and shoots the nurse who was asking him to stop. The dude was shooting two blanks and everyone ducks to the floor. They treated this scene like they were throwing live hand grenades in regards to safety. And still, the gun ejected spent cartridges, which kept landing on Jenny. Still hot, and leaving stains on her sweater from powder residue. So as controlled as they get and as safety extreme as they go, people still can get injured.
Shit happens, and it happened to the poor girl. But it was obviously a freak accident. No studio is going to hire a non-union extra and her car to be used as a flying vehicle that gets demolished. Mostly, because there’s a stuntman’s union that would never work for Michael Bay or Paramount ever again if they were hiring what amounted to scab labor. Are there people who would do something stupid for less than $100? Sure. But the system is put in place to prevent that from happening. So hopefully, this girl gets better. And then sues the ever-loving shit out of Paramount for massive damages. They best hope this girl was just a student. Because if she’s a professional actress, they just did massive damage to her livelihood. And then she can sell the rights to her story, make tons of money, and then start her own studio where she can disfigure and cripple actors at her whim. That’s the Hollywood way!