The Flash is one of those shows I wish I had watched from its premiere, but is too far along to bother catching up on (I’m still making my way through Star Trek: The Next Generation and Smallville). Still, through following along with related Arrowverse shows Supergirl and Legends of Tomorrow, I had enough familiarity with the character to be excited when an availability request via my part-time agents at In-Motion for the show’s fourth season landed in my inbox.
The episode “Harry and the Harrisons” features all sorts of interwoven plot machinations to throw the casual viewer, none of which are worth discussing here. The scene itself simply concerns the show’s supporting cast Det. Joe West (Jessie L. Martin) and Caitlin Snow (Danielle Panabaker) crashing an underground gambling den run by crime lord Amunet Black (Katee Sackhoff) in the hopes of securing her cooperation for…something. A minor super villain with the ability to manipulate metal, she is less-than-receptive at first, at least until The Flash himself (Grant Gustin) shows up to persuade her otherwise. It’s a tidy sequence of barely a minute, but took half of March 21, 2018 to shoot with yours truly partaking as one of the gamblers.
Most of my background gigs are what are affectionately dubbed “cattle calls”, where groups of anywhere from 50-500 are brought in en masse to play all manner of crowds (sports fans, audiences, generic citizenry, you name it). What set this show apart was how small the group was. There couldn’t have been more than twenty of us sleazy gamblers which was beneficial in several ways.
For one, background holding was one of the most comfortable I’ve ever had the pleasure of loafing in. The Brickhouse Bistro & Bar generously hosted us until the cameras were ready to roll. Aside from the ample couches and lounge chairs to settle into, there was more than enough eclectic memorabilia and curiosities to keep us amused. Clad in our relatively formal, stylish (and occasionally tacky) attire, we could have very well planned an Ocean’s style heist from this cozy hideout. The small crowd made the usually tedious process of checking out much smoother as well.
The Brickhouse: Not a boring wall in the place.
But even background performers have to work sometime and we were soon whisked about a block away to Tosi Italian Food importers where a mini casino had been set up in a room in back. Hell, it could’ve been the real thing for all I know. Before long, we were set up at our poker tables complete with cards, chips, play money and fake booze. For what I lack in actual poker skills I more than make up for in poker face. A faux game sequence was settled upon as cameras began to roll on Take 1.
After a solid 15-20 seconds of play, during which tackily-clad hostesses weaved among the tables, Joe and Caitlin entered on cue, remarking how much the setup resembled the then-recently released Molly’s Game (I’m sure that reference won’t date in the slightest), before Joe promptly whips out a badge, kills the buzz and sends all of us packing so they can confront the poorly-disguised Amulet.
For take after take, we were hustled to the adjacent room where “video village” was set up, allowing us to see the latter half of the scene play out on the monitors. This included The Flash in full costume. Despite being only feet away, I never actually saw the guy off-camera that day as he seemed to appear from thin air each time. Grant Gustin is notorious for having fans track him down on set. Production couldn’t have the lot of us fan-girling over him I guess.
It was also while hiding backstage that I recognized the show’s cinematographer as one of my instructors from Vancouver Film School, Brenton Spencer. Despite his day job, he actually headed our producing class, during which he would often plug his found-footage horror flick Crowsnest. I failed to greet him as most departments on set are in constant “go”-mode and it didn’t feel prudent to disrupt him. I’ll bring up our mutual gig at a future cocktail party.
True to form for most network shows, the episode aired barely a month later on May 8th where my silhouette made it to the screen if not my face. Being near the end of the season, the episode wasn’t quite enough to make me a fan, even with Katee Sackhoff’s scene-chewing turn as Amulet. Regardless, the Arrowverse still wasn’t done with me and my final turn in the CW franchise would prove to be my least-comfortable.
NEXT: Supergirl vs BC-winter