Life, Once Again! - Chapter 649
“We’ll begin after you change into the clothes you have brought.”
Maru changed into a shirt that the staff provided for him. The other background actors changed into the clothes they brought as well before gathering up.
“It should be fine if we don’t change our clothes. I mean, we just walk by, don’t we?”
“That’s true, but people in the audience with good eyes can catch it. If someone that just walked by walks around the main characters wearing the same clothes, it breaks the immersion. That’s why they change the clothes of the background actors so that they don’t look like the same person as much as possible. They might change their hairstyle too.”
Maru responded with that to the woman wearing glasses, who was standing next to him. She said that this was her first time doing this part time job, and that she didn’t know much. As this job didn’t require any special skills or a long time investment, there were many people who chose to do this job as a part time job. Most of the time, they only do it once, but there were quite a lot of people who did this for a living.
“Oh, I know how that feels. It does bother you.”
The woman with glasses nodded. Another woman, who had freckles, spoke after listening for a while.
“Me too. I usually don’t care about things like that, but once I do catch one, I keep looking for people in the background instead of focusing on the main characters. If I find the same person again, then it’s fun because it feels like I found a flaw in a jade or something.”
“Right, that’s how it feels.”
The two clicked with each other since they were friends. Behind the two was the woman with the sleeveless shirt. Her name was Choi Minae, huh. She was looking at the director like a lovestruck girl. She was clearly obsessed. Maru wondered just how shameless a person could be.
“The shoot is getting delayed.”
It had been thirty minutes since they were told to gather, but the camera wasn’t showing any signs of rolling. The director had been talking to the camera director for 10 minutes now. Maru couldn’t hear their conversation, but from the expression on the director’s face, it didn’t seem like things were going smoothly.
“But hey. Do we always have to wait so long?”
The one who asked was a man wearing a baseball cap. He was in his fifties, and he said that the grocery store he was running went out of business and that he came across this job while looking for a job. He was a man who had to quit the business he had nurtured from scratch and then jump into a totally different field. Maru could only treat this man well since he willingly stood up to fight against unfamiliarity in order to solve the basic problem that was living. A father, or a husband with a family to take care of would probably feel the same as him.
“You said that the first place you went to was a drama shooting scene, right? In Seoul.”
“Yeah, that’s right. Back then, I sat around in a large hall for around one or two hours, I think? I just drank some canned drinks while feeling the cool air from the air conditioner. After that, they just told me to go home since they were done. It was so easy that it made me wonder if that was really okay.”
“It really depends on your luck. There are some where you get to sit around casually before leaving, and there are some, like this one, where you have to slave away under the sun. If you’re planning to do this in the long term, you should register yourself at a company and get close to the leader. Also, avoid historical films in the summer and winter.”
“Are historical dramas that hard?”
“It can’t be helped. There’s the outfit as well, but the more important thing is that most of the shoot happens away from the capital, so the trip takes a lot of time and energy as well. Doing it during Spring and Autumn is relatively okay, but if you run around wearing armor under weather like this, you might be having an interview with the grim reaper. He’d probably ask why you came so early when it’s not your time.”
“I’ll remember that. Thanks for telling me all this. I was kinda nervous last time because I didn’t know anything. The younger people moved around busily as though they knew something, but I didn’t know anything.”
“I was also dazed when I first worked this job. I just found out some tricks after doing it for a while. If you feel like you can adapt to this job, it’s not a bad idea to keep doing it. I’ve seen many people who’ve started off as background actors before proceeding to become minor actors. It’s easier if you’re older because the industry people would call out to people who are known to be decent.”
“Do you think I can keep doing this job? I’m not sure about standing still like this, but I don’t think I can do anything that requires me to move around busily. Acting is not my thing either.”
“You don’t have to worry that much. It’s just like selling groceries. It might make you feel embarrassed and might make you wonder why you have to smile at strangers in order to sell your stuff, but after you keep doing it, you end up smiling naturally and become a smooth talker, am I wrong? It might seem rather cocky of me to say this since I’m young, but the jobs in this world are generally similar.”
The man with the baseball cap nodded with a faint smile. When he finished talking, Maru realized that people had gathered around him. They were the people who had gotten to know each other during break time while chatting with each other. Another woman started speaking, saying that she had a tip as well. Following that, other people gave their tips and precautions as well. They talked about this background acting job in this small network that had formed.
“If you\\\’re not doing this short-term, then it wouldn\\\’t be bad to exchange contact info and share things now and then. The place I worked at before did things like that. It works like this: the leader would get access to where people could work, and then they would send out information and get people to contact each other. People get their work from each other, and it’s also easier to have someone else fill in for you if you can’t make it to a certain job on short notice.”
Maru added that midway.
“So it’s like a fishing net huh. I was actually thinking about doing this properly, so I’d love to have people I can contact.”
“Me too. I’m trying to do this in the long run.”
“I’m not going to do it that often, but I hope I can get to know a lot of people. We can help each other out when we have a hard time.”
“Should we exchange numbers? I think that’s a good idea.”
“Well, they say you can’t have too much information.”
About fifteen people gathered in a circle before starting to exchange numbers. Maru quietly looked at them. Due to the nature of background acting, there were a lot of cases where the actors were bossed around by the brokers. Since it wasn’t a regular job, it was hard for the workers to form a relationship with each other, and as a result of that, they would scatter and work individually. In the market, an individual worker was just a target of exploitation so there were a lot of cases where they would get scammed. He had also seen many cases where the leader just took ‘fees’ and did not give them any work. This happened because the individual workers did not have access to the bare minimum amount of information. However, these people were probably going to be okay now. Once they shared information among themselves, they would no longer be scammed out of their hard-earned money.
“Hey, what about you?”
That voice was directed at Maru. Many eyes were looking at him.
“It was you who talked about it. Since it’s like that, let\\\’s exchange numbers and share information if we come across one. Or perhaps you don’t plan to do this job long term?”
“Maybe he’s only here for today because he’s still young?”
“No. He’s pretty knowledgeable about this area, isn’t he? How would someone who only worked here for a day or two know about that?”
While he kept quiet, everyone exchanged words among themselves. Then they became quiet before the woman with glasses spoke.
“You said you were still in high school right? Are you here for a part time job after all?”
“No, it’s not really a part time job. I’m also doing various things because I want to become an actor.”
“Really? Then give us your number. It must be fate that brought us together, so it’d be good if we could get to know each other.”
Everyone was waiting with their phones open. It was indeed Maru who brought up the topic in the first place, but he didn’t mean that he wanted in, he just wanted to let them know they should look after themselves. He was telling them that they should help each other in order to not get exploited by others. Maru was young so he thought that they’d only do it among themselves, but he got an unexpected offer. He was still in high school and wouldn’t be able to share much, yet everyone was eagerly waiting for his number. Maru smiled back at them.
“That’d be great for me. Hyung-nims, noonims, I hope I can get close to you. Also, treat me to food from time to time. I’m the youngest here, so I’d love to get treated.”
“Hey, we are having a hard time too. But I guess I can pay for food if we meet up every now and then.”
“I’ll pay for the drinks then.”
“Hey, he’s still in high school.”
“These days, high school boys start drinking quite early. You drink too, don’t you?”
Maru looked around to look at all the people who had circled around him. He felt like he understood why elder Moonjoong would often join the background actors and laugh with them whenever he had time during shoots. Whether emotionally or for work, these were the kind of people who were closest to him at the shoots. There were people who aspired to be actors, and there were people who simply tried to make some money out of background acting without having any huge dreams. Their dreams and natures were all unique, but they shared a common point in that they all earned money by appearing in films like this and that they did acting for a living. All animals found relief when they were in a group, so the animals known as actors were probably finding comfort when they hung around those who had similar natures as them. The noble and proud breed might not approach this kind of group because of the messy nature it’s based on, but Maru liked this kind of group, which was a cluster of different and complex background circumstances.
“My number is….”
After he said his number, he got a lot of text messages at once. They had another conversation to learn each other’s names. Although this group happened rather suddenly. There was no awkwardness. They even made an appointment to drink together after the shoot. The middle-aged man with the baseball cap said that he’d treat everyone. He shouted heartily as though he had forgotten that his grocery store went out of business. That was a fast track to get a smashing from his wife. Maru laughed when he thought about it.
“Wait. I think I saw you somewhere before, Maru.”
The woman with glasses tilted her head before taking her glasses off. She told Maru to stay still before putting the glasses on Maru.
“That’s right! That drama. Was it New Semester?”
“What the heck is that?”
“Ah, you’re right!”
Half of them didn’t know about it, but the other half did. The ones that did started explaining to others what it was about and soon they all knew about it. The kid that appeared in a drama – that was his new title now.
“Looks like we didn’t recognize a fully fledged actor.”
“Oh no, it’s fine to not recognize me since I don’t really have any recognition.”
“You should’ve told us. You’re a celebrity after all.”
“There’s nothing more pitiful than trying to paint yourself in gold. It is only cool when other people recognize you.”
Maru returned the glasses to the original owner.
“Then I guess we know an actor’s number, huh? Or maybe you don’t use this number that often?”
“I use it all the time. I’m a nameless actor, so I won’t get called anywhere either.”
“You are on TV. You aren’t exactly nameless.”
“Apparently, being on TV doesn’t make you amazing. There’s the money too. Don’t ask about it because it’s a sensitive topic.”
Maru sighed softly in relief after he said those words. Their eyes towards him didn’t change. If someone looked at him with eyes filled with expectations, he might have felt bitter. He wanted to leave this good meeting as a good meeting until the end.
“What was that? What is up with this kid?”
Seemingly having overheard, an unwanted face joined them. Maru did not reply and looked at the woman with the sleeveless shirt, Choi Minae. Go away – he barely swallowed those words to stop them from coming out of his mouth. He didn’t want to deal with this woman since she had the stereotypical ‘I’m evil’ eyes.
“What the heck was that? You’re leaving me out?”
Just as the woman with the sleeveless shirt joined the group while trying to act cute, the assistant director gave the signal. Everyone stand by – Maru walked past the woman immediately.
“This is the last time apparently, so let’s do our best,” he said as he ignored the stare from the woman with the sleeveless shirt.