What It Was Actually Like Being in ‘Batman V. Superman’ [VIDEO]
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I've been afraid to say much about my day on the set of 'Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice,' but now that the whole DCEU is in tumult, it's probably safe for me to share my story.
If you've had any conversation with me between now and late October of 2014, I likely mentioned in a less-than-casual fashion that I was in 'Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice.' I promise -- this is the last article I'll write about it... probably. My part (seen above) was one of those blink-and-you'll-miss-it moments, but it was still a dream come true to be in a Batman movie, let alone the first movie where Bats and Supes shared the big screen.
Haters be damned -- I loved the movie. It had its story flaws, but I liked it a hell of a lot more than 'Civil War,' more like 'Civil Bore.' Am I right? He let out a deep sigh in response to the deafening silence with which his statement was met. Obviously, that's a personal opinion, and if I start down that path -- we'll be here all day.
October 2014 was a pretty badass month for me. I got married, I got to see Pearl Jam in Detroit, and I got to be in 'Batman V Superman' on, what I believe they said was the final day of shooting in Michigan. As you know, the film was largely shot in Detroit and the surrounding areas, but actually getting into the movie was a long, drawn-out process. I'll go step-by-step through my "Hollywood experience," but feel free to skip to the "On the Set" portion of the article for just the meat and potatoes of the story.
The Casting Call
The first step to getting in the movie was the open casting call at the Somerset Inn in Troy, Michigan on April 27th. The specific casting call was for clean-cut men and women who could play military or business executive types. I showed up about a half hour early and still had to wait in a massive outdoor line for about 4 hours (as seen in the video below). It was windy as hell, cloudy, and not very warm, which made for a pretty crappy experience overall. When we got to the end of the line, we went into a large conference room, got a five-minute speech about... I can't even remember, filled out a basic info sheet, got a picture taken, and that was it.
They say the waiting is the hardest part... and they're right. Filming started in the D, and I waited and waited for an email. Just when it seemed I would never get one, I responded to a casting email looking for "inmate" types. This was perfect, because my facial hair had become quite scraggly, and I already looked the part. I was told to wait for a follow-up email, and respond as soon as possible. I waited for two days, and nothing. It was then that it occurred to me to check my spam folder, and, sure as s*** -- I missed the email. After that, I was sure I wouldn't get into the movie. I had missed my shot. But then, in late October, I got the callback for "Crowd," to be shot on at Michigan Motion Picture Studio in Pontiac on October 27th. The role called for the following:
"Wear your best option from the list provided below and bring additional options.
You are part of a official procession. You will need to wear a wool dress coat (black, navy, camel, charcoal, burgundy) and out door accessories, dress hat, scarf, gloves.
Ladies: Dark wool dress coat (black, navy, camel, charcoal, burgundy) , basic shirt or blouses (no busy patterns or bright colors) tailored trousers or skirts, pumps.
Men: Dark wool dress coats, (black, navy, camel, charcoal) dark suit or dark trouser, dress shirt, tie, and dress shoes. "
On the Set
Whoever said making movies is exciting is full of s***. I got to the set early on the day of the shoot, and there was about an hour of standing in line. We, myself and about 700 other similarly dressed extras, then headed into a giant tent, where they took all of our cell phones and made us sign papers and such. At some point, we were told that this was the biggest shoot of the production, as far as number of people on camera was concerned. So you can imagine how much time we spent waiting... and waiting... and waiting. There was catering though. A decent breakfast spread in the morning, sandwiches in the afternoon, nothing spectacular..
After an hour or two, they called us out of the tent in groups of maybe 10, and looked at us. If they saw something they didn't like, they sent you to the wardrobe tent with a ticket, detailing what you needed. I got sent there because they didn't like the way the dress coat I had picked up from Forman Mills fit me. Full disclosure, it was a bit snug, but I needed one on short notice and, like I said, I just paid for a wedding. I was broke. Anyway, wardrobe hooked me up with a new, larger coat and I was on my way.
Eventually, they moved all of the extras out to an area with green semi-trailers, stacked three high, and eight wide, arranged in a horseshoe shape (see pic that was forwarded to me anonymously and that I definitely didn't take while leaving the set below). There was a fake street setup with lamps and those temporary bike rack-style barricades. That's where we were at for the next 3-5 hours. It was unseasonably hot for October, and we were all wearing wool coats and scarves -- not ideal. We did a lot of standing and looking sad while the IMAX camera went by on a crane, then we'd move further down the line and do it again, rinse, repeat. You'd be amazed at how much footage they actually shot for an 8 second part of the movie. Had to be at least an hour's worth.
They also had a small green screen setup off to the side, which the wind kept messing up, where you could go stand in front of with your arms out and do an eight-point rotation, stopping in between each, while they took your picture at each stop. The photographer said the phots were used to create a 3d models for "digital extras," and they would fill the crowd by copying and pasting said 3d models multiple places throughout the crowd. So I might actually be in there several times, but I could only spot the one.
The most interesting part my entire day came on a break from standing in position while they filmed the group of extras on the other side. I was standing off to the side of the fake street. I looked over and there was Henry Cavill, dressed as Clark Kent, not even five feet away. Oddly enough, his top lip and mouth didn't look weird at all in person. Not long after that, they placed him on the other side of the crowd and shot a few scenes, but I'd be surprised if they even rolled film. If you've seen the movie, you no doubt know that ***SPOILER*** the funeral we were at was Superman's.
So why was Clark Kent there? As a diversionary tactic. Obviously, they couldn't let 700 extras know the movie's surprise ending a year and a half early. It was quite clever actually. Bring out Henry, parade him around in front of the extras, making sure everyone saw him, give the extras cardboard signs that said things like "We miss you President Horne" and "RIP Jonathan Horne." I thought we were at the president's funeral procession the whole time. Jonathan Horne was, after all, the name of one of the presidents in the DC Universe. Imagine my surprise in the theater when I realized how masterfully I'd been fooled. Well played, Zack Snyder. Well played.
The only other actors I spotted on the set that day were Harry Lennix, who played the Secretary Swanwick in BvS and the girl that played Major Ferris. They also were not visible in the final cut during this scene. There were a lot of horses in the funeral procession, and every time they filmed them go through the line, they had to walk them all the way around the set in a circle (there was no backing up), have the assistant directors or whoever reset everyone, and start over. This took maybe 20-30 minutes each time -- although my timing could be off (no phone, remember?) -- and happened at least 10 times?
It was super boring, but I'm glad I got to be a part of it. Plus, that scene was featured in 'Suicide Squad' as well, so, technically, I was in two of the top grossing movies of 2016. It isn't that big of a deal, but it's funny to brag about since I, literally, was barely even in the damn movie. I got paid minimum wage, so I made about $63 for being in two movies that, combined, grossed well over a billion dollars. Someone call my lawyer!
The reason I think I'm clear to talk about this now, is because there's nothing left unknown that I could "disclose." I've seen all of this information out there already in one form or another and this VFX reel (below) shows the scene I was in (skip to 11:21) without any effects. Plus, the DCEU is quickly dissolving following the financial failure of 'Justice League.' I knew it was a bad idea for them to make a super team-up movie without me.
It was pretty amazing seeing the whole thing come together on the big screen after being on set, and seeing just how much a film transforms in post-production. Plus, I got to stand right next to Superman at Superman's funeral for a minute... well, the guy that was Superman for three movies and might be done with the role now if the rumors are true. Either way -- still counts.