“When I got to Montana I kept searching Facebook groups and craigslist for acting jobs, and landed a few paid gigs in interesting fields.
For one job, I was the course instructor for a HIPAA safety class. I bought business dresses and had a hair and makeup lady do me up all professional, and for three grueling days I read safety and regulatory information off a teleprompter for a company in California. I’m now one of those green screen teachers, kindly walking you through the bullet points required to take a new job.
For another job, I got paid to pretend to be horribly injured or traumatized, so that the National Guard could rescue me and several other folks from disaster zones. As a “casualty role player,” I would first draw a card telling me what my injury was, what my mood was, and how annoying I should be. Then I went to the makeup team, and they would glue or paint my injury on: a protruding arm bone, minor abrasions on my forehead, a bleeding thigh. Next, we got placed in the scene, sometimes a burned-out building, or the aftermath of a flood, and then the soldiers came and rescued us. We had to portray the designated level of stressed out or shock, anger or fear, aggressiveness or helplessness. My final injury was evisceration, so they dressed me in old clothes, tore a hole in my shirt, and wrapped fake guts around my belly, dribbling blood all the way down my front. I was told to disrupt the line waiting to be checked into the medical tent. This was fun. I crawled slowly into the scene, clutching my bleeding intestinal pile to my stomach, swearing a blue streak. I was so aggressive about getting attention for my injury and pain, that soldiers came up to me afterwards and thanked me for actually making them so angry they didn’t want to help me. Yay! In other news, the casualty role player company banned swearing after that round. I guess I used it all up.
The film commissioner of Montana, Allison Whitmer, is very involved and keen to build the film community here. When I finished Brown, I figured I would head back east to be nearer my siblings, but Allison made the case that if I stayed, I would be able to find more and more film jobs in Montana. She connected me with a Kia commercial, and a Subaru commercial. Working on a production that has money to burn is a very different experience after so much low-budget filmmaking! I got to have breakfast with famous stunt drivers, ride up the side of a snow-covered mountain hanging off a Russian arm car, create healthy snacks for the crew out of the back of my dodge pickup truck, and watch beautiful cars zip around at wild speeds.”