On February 4th 2008, Joel Studer, a mild mannered Watchmen fan, pointed his mouse over to WatchmenComicMovie.com, just like he told me he does every day, to get the latest scoops on the upcoming movie.
When he saw our story reporting on the latest “Cassandra Faust” extra report, he was floored to see that she mentioned him in her account.
He immediately sent me an email, and I asked him if he wanted to have a chance to tell his story. He was very happy to. The following is the amazing tale of the Watchmen fan that could — in his own words…
I read Watchmen a few years ago and ever since have been determined to get everyone I know to read it. I’m a motorcycle builder and mechanic living in Washington, and know very little about the movie industry, but when I heard they were filming a movie version of Watchmen in Vancouver, I knew I had to find a way in.
I started looking on the Internet for Vancouver production offices, and lists of the movies being produced, and managed to figure out who was casting the extras for Watchmen. I figured that being an extra was likely one of the easiest ways to get into the movie, considering I have no acting experience.
I contacted someone in the casting department and pleaded my case to her. I told her I was a huge fan, and just wanted to be able to say I was part of the Watchmen movie – part of Watchmen history. Thank God she heard me. That’s not to say it didn’t take a while to convince her. I emailed her about once every other week from August through December. Finally, she contacted me on December 7th and offered me a part as an extra in the studio audience of the Dr. Manhattan talk show appearance scene.
On December 20th, my first day of filming, I woke up at 3 am, got in my truck, and headed from Washington towards the Canadian border. I got a little lost on the way, but I had some maps that were sent to me from the movie production offices, with smiley face Watchmen production logos printed on them. After a long drive, I finally arrived at the BCIT campus where they were shooting the scene at around 6 am.
I was one of the first extras to arrive, so I made my way through the various production trailers and tents until I found the tent labeled “EXTRAS.” I sat there and waited to check in until more people showed up and got to chat with some real outstanding people in the cast and crew. Everyone there was extremely friendly and was interested in the fact that I hadn't done any extra work before. I was equally interested in anything they had to say about acting or the production. I wanted to know everything about the New York City backlot, and anyone I spoke to about it said it was unlike any other set they had seen before.
When I finally checked in they took me over to wardrobe where I was put into my 80’s costume (I actually got to wear my own Harley-Davidson belt and buckle). I was then ushered off to the hair stylist, who was so eager to get that 80’s look onto the screen, she set my hair up like that guy in the band Flock of Seagulls. Then I went back to the tent where I waited to be called to the set.
Again, I can’t say enough how cool all of the other extras were. I can’t believe someone I met was “Cassandra Faust,” I only wish I knew who she was. We played a dice game while we waited and occasionally I read my own worn out copy of Watchmen. Everyone was interested in the scene we were filming and anyone who hadn’t already read the story was hooked once they saw it in the pages of the graphic novel.
When we were finally called, we all headed towards the set, which was inside one of the school buildings. We formed a line in the hallway and I ended up being second in line. They ushered us all in and directed me to where in the audience I should sit. I ended up in the second row up, second from the end if you’re facing the stage. Zack Snyder even made a comment about my hair on set, saying something along the lines of, “That's straight out of the 80’s.” As far as the scene goes, I don’t want to give away any more than Faust has, but she was correct in her account. There were three reporters and their questions were not word for word from the graphic novel, so obviously neither was Dr. Manhattan’s answers. However, the questions and responses worked so well, they would have fit right in the book.
By the way, Doug Roth’s hair was blond. It was more of a dirty blond, but I wouldn’t call it brunette or brown like Cassandra did. It’s not yellow like in the graphic novel, but more of a realistic blond complete with a blond mustache. I sat right behind the second reporter to ask questions, and I was one row down and two to the left of Roth. To sit there and watch Zack Snyder run around the room, talking to the actors and set crew, it was very surreal — like I was inside a special feature on the 300 DVD.
While they were shooting I caught a glimpse of a picture of Jackie Earle Haley made up like Walter Kovacs, on what appeared to be a fake magazine cover, and which was taped to the side of one of the screens Snyder was watching. Haley looked perfect — right down to the tattered fingerless green gloves and wild red hair.
Once they were done with us, I took the long way out just to get a better look at the Kovacs picture and it gave me a chill. We had lunch and then went back to the set for more of the same. They filmed the same few lines, each time from different angles. It was really cool to see how it all fit together. When all was said and done, I was really blown away by the magnitude of it all.
At 11:30 pm I got back into my truck and headed home. In retrospect, I wish I would have stayed at a hotel, but instead I drove home, not a bit tired from the 17 hour day on the set I had put in. They told me before I had left that I needed to be back there at 9 am the next morning, which was later than the first day and lent to my decision to drive home that night. I got home at 1:30 am, and finally fell to sleep at 2:30 am after the adrenaline of the day wore off.
The next day, I woke up at 6am, got in my truck and headed out onto the highway back toward Vancouver. Now maybe it was my lack of sleep or maybe I just wasn’t paying enough attention, but during my drive a semi started to coast into my lane and I jerked the wheel. Bad move. I ended up in a ditch, with only a couple hours before I needed to check in at the set. Needless to say, I never made it. I was lucky enough to have the cell phone number of an extra I had become friends with the day before and through calling him I got in touch with the crew members who were in charge of the extras. They were understanding and thanked me for calling. They were really cool about it and I think they felt my pain.
I want to take this opportunity to thank everyone who helped me be a part of the Watchmen movie. Andrea, Joe, Peter, James, and WatchmenComicMovie.com for letting me tell my story. I accomplished my goal of getting in the movie as an extra. Now to work on my goal of getting a ticket to the premier. Any ideas? Know anyone? I'll certainly be working on it. Once again, everyone, thanks a lot.
Talk about this story in the WatchmenComicMovie.com Forum