So it’s with some trepidation, and a little bit of excitement, I enter into the gates of Lime Pictures for the 4th time in my life. Having first been a Background Artist almost 12 months ago now, when I got made redundant, it seems a logical step while I build up my business to earn a bit of ‘extra’ cash – see what I did there!
While I’m still pursuing my goal of becoming a copywriter, with a couple of clients now, it takes time to build up a client base and a reputation. Plus, to be honest I’ve also always had this burning ambition to be on The Bill.
Well, either The Bill or Casualty, my two favourite TV programmes growing up. So when I was asked if I would be a police officer on Hollyoaks, I jumped at the chance! The Bill finished years ago now, so this is the nearest I’m going to get right?
The thing about Lime Pictures is it feels like a little village, from the moment you come through the gates everyone waves or says ‘hi.’ In between any filming, us Background Artists wait in the canteen to be called. So this is where I’m writing from, because there’s usually a lot of waiting around for your scene to be set up.
So far I’ve seen several well known actors, all queuing in line for a coffee like the rest of us, there’s no special treatment here. I’d love to show you a picture of this area but there are rules about that sort of thing, and I don’t want to ruin my chances of being called up again!
I’m assessed by make up and approved, they need to check that I don’t look like I’m going on a night out and have no nail varnish or jewellery on. So I’m issued with the uniform. I have my own black trousers so it’s just the poloshirt and stab vest, oh and then the utility belt complete with pepper spray, handcuffs and other pockets I dare not open!
Back to the canteen to wait for my call and minutes later I am collected for the scene and walked to the set. Having been given my starting position, I simply walk through a hallway and turn right through a set of double doors. Easy right. Except for stepping over cables, almost into lighting rigs and then needing to open the door wide enough for an actor to step through straight after me – Duncan James, from Blue. Sorry, full on name dropping there!
Fortunately there are several takes for the actors so I’ve got time to get this right. Then of course, I need to do it again once the cameras have been turned around to capture a few different angles of the same action. This takes a little more thought, as I need to step exactly the same way as before and remember not to look directly at the camera which is now in front of me, having started from behind.
The final angle is from the next room and as I step through the doors I suddenly notice there’s no space for me to walk into anymore, as the lighting rig has been moved. There’s a tiny gap before the table around the corner from the camera, so, trying not to affect the shot, I shuffle into the gap quietly and, almost tripping over some coats on the floor, I steady myself on the table, holding onto it tightly so as not to make a noise.
This is much harder than it looks! But we’ve finished, it’s a wrap, and my stint as a police officer is now over, until the next time. It’s so interesting seeing how these programmes are put together and I’m loving the experience! Plus the people you meet here are really interesting.
So far I’ve met a few college students, writing their assignments in the canteen, or in my case writing up my business plan, a mechanic on his day off, a masseur with his own business and a film student – who plans to work in Bollywood eventually.
So why do we do it, you might ask, well mainly because we want to know how it’s done. The magic of TV. And I have to add that working with the team at Lime Pictures is actually really good fun and genuinely a nice place to be. I would recommend it to anyone. One word of advice though, bring something to do, or be prepared to talk to strangers, it would be a very long day if you didn’t!
To find out more about becoming a supporting artist visit Spotlight