• Chris Banks

Quitting my job and finding myself in a white cloak 😱

Updated: May 23

I knew I had a lot of work to do that had nothing to do with dog walking. I got this job because in my mind I couldn’t move without having a secure income base. Every morning though I opened my email inbox to casting companies and directors asking if I was union or asking if i wanted to work. The biggest had to be from Grant W who emailed me asking if i was sag for a possible interview for the film ‘the Irishman’. I was floored by the email and instead of acting like a professional, I acted like a fan boy. I sent them back this big long email about how big of a fan and how much of a student of Marty’s I was, and how grateful I would be for an audition/interview. Of course they didn’t get back to me, probably both the fact that i i wasn’t union and that I acted like a little fan boy when they thought they were reaching out to a professional. Learning moment. I knew I had a lot of work to do, and I wasn’t sure when I would be able to do it. I knew I had to leave my job as a dog walker, but how.

How could I maintain a quality life without a job? I spent a lot of time trying to find that perfect assistant gig for an actor but it was harder than I realized. Then I thought, just do background! Do background and survive, and while earning, pay for classes and workshops to sure up your craft. And while you’re doing these jobs take in as much as you. Can, learn as much as you can from being in the background. That was the idea and so I took the leap and quit the job.

Not soon after that, I got what was the first of many blessings. I got on BlacKkKlansman! First I was asked to be core but then they slid me over to stand in for Felix, player by Jasper Paakkoken, who is an extremely nice man.

I’ll never forget my first day on set. I was handed a script and told to go over to the wardrobe truck. They threw some clothes on me and started calling me Felix. I literally had no idea what stand in was before this. I had a script in my hand, I was on set and i turn around and none other than Spike Lee is sitting in the corner. It was the first wake up moment for me now being in New York. Nowhere else would I get to experience this so fast. I was both nervous and taking it all in. I was absorbing everything and I quickly learned how important a stand in’s job is.

I very much learned the job of a film actor from doing each of these jobs and learning as I went. I asked questions when I wanted to know something, I stayed out of productions way and out of their ear. My job was to help them facilitate the filming of an extremely important film. I took that job very seriously, and i developed friendships with a few people on the cast and crew. Spike is an incredible actors director. He’s in there with the background, he’s shouting on the fly, his set and his set family made me feel at home. I wish I got to do more. And I hope one day to cross paths with him again, in a more creative relationship. I would be honored to work for him again.

I learned so much standing in on that film. Not to mention absorbing the historical and important nature of the topic. Seeing how John David went about such a different role for him was inspiring. And just the chemistry of that set was something on the day, so to see how much acclaim and awards the film has received is both humbling and not surprising. I felt like I was transformed on that set. It’s hard to put into words now that I am. I know this isn’t what I’m supposed to be doing, but I was doing it because i was lucky to be asked, I learned (a TON) and I was paid. Well. And at that time, with no job, it was how I survived. It changed me, both artificially and knowing that staying on set was exactly what I should do. I might not have the big role I want or think I deserve, but I will in time. Once I give the universe enough love I hope the universe repays it, and allows me to show the world all that I can do in front of a camera. But what a start this was. I can’t tell you how grateful I was for the opportunity, and for being eligible to join the union after. It was very humbling but I knew i had a long way to go before I felt comfortable joining the ranks of professionals who’ve had theatre training and years of film work in front of the camera. I knew I needed to do more, a lot more. And so I went out and tried to do just that...

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