It’s 1pm and I’ve been sitting in this stupid courtyard, on this stupid hill, in stupid Turkey for nearly 7 hours now. I’m not the first to be suckered by a Turk, and I surely won’t be the last, but I’ll be damned if I sit here any longer. It’s time for action! I’ve been kidnapped into a Turkish film set, and I’m getting out of here, now!
This all started the day before when, slightly intoxicated on raki (the notorious Turkish liquor that leads to notoriously poor decisions), I and a horrifically annoying American girl had been talked into working as extras on a Turkish movie that was shooting in the neighborhood. Not exactly in Selcuk, but really really close, or so we heard. Our hostel owner, Atilla (yes, that’s his real name), apparently has a friend who was doing the casting, and was searching desperately for “tourists” to populate a village scene the next day. Sweet! We get to be in the movies! Temptation only increased when we discovered the deal included 20 lira and a free lunch, and we’d basically sold ourselves over when Atilla decided to throw in free t-shirts if we wore them on the shoot.
Now, I should have known better than to try my luck in the movies again, because I’ve been an extra before. Kinda. Basically I did some stalking back in the ATX (Austin, TX) when I noticed a movie shooting down the street from my house. I didn’t actually get used (apparently you’re not supposed to wear white to a film shoot? Little things like that might be nice to share beforehand, people), but I did get to stare at Sean Patrick Flannery a lot, which totally made the whole thing worthwhile. You remember Sean Patrick Flannery, aka the Young Indiana Jones? Star of such classics as Simply Irresistible (the worst movie ever made about food. Also the worst movie ever made by Sarah Michelle Gellar, which is saying a lot. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0145893/) and one of my all-time fave’s, Girl (this movie was not good. At all. I just happen to empathize… http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0138467/). The movie he was filming next door might actually take the cake though. It co-starred Joey Lauren Adams and Mimi Rodgers, of all people, and was so clearly “straight-to-VHS” that it has no entry on IMDB…
If one were to own a VCR nowadays, one could actually see me in the scene were Sean peels out of a driveway in his sexy sherrif outfit. This experience taught me that it’s true, the camera really does add 20 pounds. Also Sean is kinda anorexic. It should have taught me that being an extra kinda sucks…
But back to Turkey. About six more raki’s were drunk and one t-shirt was acquired (in pink!) before it occurred to me to inquire when this “movie shoot” would start. Also if it was an actual “film”, or if we were just being dragged off into the hills to star in Turkish porn or somesuch. Not that that sounded so bad at this point. About three raki’s after that, it became clear that we were being picked up in like, 3 hours. Fuck…
Cut to the shoot. I’m grumpy. I’m the only one who thought to swipe breakfast, and I’m pretty sick of the other “extras” begging me to share. Fuck you people, I stole this mangy sandwich yesterday fair and square. There’s about 10 of us out here, and everyone’s really nice after we basically beat some of the film workers in getting us instant coffee. But seriously, it’s been like, 4 hours already and I don’t recall any filming having occurred. We’ve gleaned a bit about the situation though.
1) It’s a real film, not porn. Score.
2) The leader of the German Green Party is doing a cameo? Cause it’s kinda an environmentalist comedy?
3) It is directed by some Turkish dude who may or may not have been up for an Oscar a couple years ago? His name is unpronouncable to the non-Turk, so we called him Crazy Pants. Cause, like the best movie directors, he was completely Crazy Pants.
4) It’s literally so boring being an extra that I COULD DIE.
5) No food is forthcoming, and it turns out our ride has left us here, 3 hours from our homes, with no method of escape…
6) I shouldn’t be allowed to dress myself. I now have two free t-shirts, as my new Attila’s Getaway wife-beater was found quite un-acceptable by the wardrobe department.
On the bright side, none of the other extras or actors speak English, so we’ve had plenty of time to learn interesting things about each other. For example, the two Aussie brothers really do not like being told how much like Wils and Harry they look (although really they do). Also, Obnoxious American Girl really doesn’t need much encouragement to start in on how awesome she is, how amazing travelling is, how she designed her giant square-meter-sized tatoo all by herself (yes, dear, it’s really very creative that you put a train, a boat, and an airplane on it to signify how amazing travelling is), and blah blah blah oh fuck I can’t remember all what she was on about. My favorite, however, was Brit Teenager who pointedly refused to tell us exactly why he had had to leave the U.K. in such a rush, then spent the next 3 hours alluding to what a bad-ass he was and how he planned to hole up in Turkey for the foreseeable future ’cause he couldn’t go home ’cause of “that shit wit’ me grams and the visa ‘n shit”. Although it turns out he was smarter than the lot of us, as he’d been scoring 20 liras a day off the extra gig for about two weeks, and managed to escape around 1pm via some drugged-up Turkish chick in a dilapidated van. Power to you, BT.
Things had now gotten desperate. We’d started “filming”, or so they swore, and had done about 30 takes of a scene in which we were to “celebrate” but not “clap”. Then to “celebrate to the sound of silent clapping”. Then to “celebrate while clapping in slo-mo”. Then to “repeat ad naseum”. It was about 134 degrees F outside and the old lady “ethnic extras” in their solid wool getups had started passing out quietly in the corner. The smarter foreign extras had hidden themselves in the shade around some outhouses, and the Old Aussie Couple had just lost a fairly violent screaming match with the casting director about whether or not we would get paid if we abandoned ship on foot, as it were.
In the end this was all unecessary, however. Some disgusting red “hot dogs” were produced and valiantly tasted, then fed to the adorable street dogs. Some blubbering was done by Wils and Harry, who had a van to a bus to a plane to catch. And some under-handed finegling was performed by Old Aussie Couple, who were really more effective at bribery than violent screaming. One demented bus ride later, and I was back at Atilla’s (who, yes, I quite berated. And who patently did not give a flying fuck, although he was pretty sad his hostel propoganda hadn’t made it into the film). Live and learn, I guess. I, for one, learned that I wouldn’t work as a movie star even for Angie’s salary, and that I should probably consider not selling myself for two free t-shirts and 20 lira in future. Or not, I do love that shirt 🙂
For more information on my starring role in what I’m sure is a gem of the modern Turkish cinema, see:
Yüksel Aksu’s new comedy Entelköy Efeköy
Summarized by IMDB as: “Tired of the noise and pollution of large cities, a group of environmental intellectuals abandon the big city and return to nature.” With a 6.6 out of 10 rating 😦
I’d give the trailer an 8, and my day about a negative 4.
3 thoughts on “Nina’s Travel Rule #18: 20 Lira and a Free T-shirt Don’t Make You a Turkish Movie Star.”
Great story – I enjoyed reading it!