The Name is Khan……..James Khan……

6 02 2012

Well it’s been a month since we last spoke and what a month it has been!

First things first, the title. It is referring to my MI6 ID (see below) from the upcoming James Bond movie entitled “Skyfall.” To put it into context, as much as I would love to say I am Bond indian counterpart in the equivalent agency this is not the case. I am an extra in the scene where the new Q Branch is introduced. We started shooting in the second week of January. Here’s my journey through that time.

On the 9th of January I made my way to Pinewood, situated in Uxbridge. Bit of a pain in the ass having to get there as coming from Oxford you sorta go past Uxbridge to have to get to London first and then back to Pinewood. But no matter, I turned up about 11 and met some of my fellow extras there. This was just going to be a costume fitting. Now from my experience on working on “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” the costume department on that set was very simple. They asked me to bring a pair of shoes and black trousers and they provided me with a shirt. Very simple. On Skyfall however the attention to detail is incredible. I was dressed in almost 6 different outfits before they found one they liked, changing one outfit because they didn’t like how the buttons on my sweater clashed with the tie I was wearing! BUTTONS! Just wow, but I did love the outfit they put me in, was very office chic, lol. I think I was dressed primarily in Ralph Lauren and Banana Republic. Very nice. So that was that.

On the friday, I came back for the first day of shooting and got to meet all the other extras involved. One of them actually being from Solent Uni, never ceases to amaze me how small this world is sometimes. In the interest of keeping the mystique of the film alive, I won’t reveal any plot details but needless to say, the set design was incredible. I saw two of the sets that are going to be used, one of which I would be spending the majority of my time over the next few weeks. I can however say that from everything I’ve seen, I am very excited about this Bond film and believe that it may well be the best of Daniel Craig’s so far.

So that Friday we were shooting a scene with Daniel Craig who is of course James Bond and Mr Ben Whishaw who is the new Q. Now we were told that this would be the only day that DC would be on set the same time as us so I made it my mission to try to talk to him before the end of the day, that gave me roughly 8 hours. Just to explain, I didn’t want to talk to him to mob him like an insane fan, no I wanted to get some advice on my upcoming audition at Guildhall, a school from which he had graduated himself a few years ago.

Now anyone whose done any extra work will know that the majority of the time is spent sat around not really doing a whole lot. So that Friday out of the 10 odd hours I was at Pinewood I maybe had only 3 hours of actual contact time within which to grab him. The other that most people who will have done extra work will know is that you are kept very separate from the talent. However, the production assistant, Ollie,  who was looking after us seemed like a nice enough guy and I thought it wouldn’t do any harm to press my luck for an introduction. As we wrapped our last part for the day, we were being led off set and I got caught at the back of the crowd, Ollie was at the front leading me and the rest of the extras back to our holding area. I tried to make my way up to him quickly to ask him for this introduction. Half way to him I spotted a flash of a smart grey suit out of the corner of my eye to my right. Who else should it be but the man himself! I thought to myself that I would never get a chance like this again and did a 180 and walked straight up to him and said hi. I do feel a little bad about interrupting the chap who was speaking to him when I walked up and if you’re reading this I apologise profusely. The conversation went something like this,

Me: Hi!
DC: Hello. (Smiles)
Me: First of all, I’m a big fan of your work. (Thought it wise to open with a compliment rather than be blunt)
DC: (Smiles) Thanks. (Goes to walk away)
Me: Actually, I did want to ask your advice on something. (DC turns back towards me) My name is Kalam, and I have an audition at Guildhall coming up next month.
DC: (Laughs heartily but genuinely interested look on his, I thought anyway)  Good Luck!
Me: I know right! But I was basically wondering if you had any advice for me, I know you graduated from there a few years ago.
DC: Well, sure, okay, firstly, make sure you know your lines! And be yourself around them, they don’t like posers. Try and do pieces that will set you apart from the crowd and pieces that will make them remember you. Don’t be disheartened if you don’t get in the first time, I didn’t get in the first time myself, but they remembered me from the year before. But yeah, make sure they remember you, just be yourself and give it your best shot.
Me: That’s amazing. Thank you for the advice.
DC: Not a problem at all, good luck!

We shook hands and went off in different directions. Sound advice from Mr Bond himself and it definitely solidified in my mind that Guildhall is definitely where I wanted to go to carry on my training. And it was an absolute pleasure to talk to that big of a movie star and see that actually they are just regular people and if you’re polite and respectful you’ll get it in return.

The next few days passed fairly uneventfully, the waiting around got steadily longer and longer with one day where we didn’t actually get used at all! I did however meet some wonderful people on the job, a few of which I will be staying touch with. Our “holding area” was basically on a catering bus where we spent most of our time, by the third day we wised up and people had started to bring books, handheld consoles etc in with them for entertainment. But mostly it was just great banter between folk.

On one of the last days I decided to jump off the bus as it was getting quite stuffy in there. It happened from time to time, 30 bodies and a fairly powerful heater on the bus, so I wanted some air. As I came off, I was faced with the back of a man who was on the phone and I didn’t recognise from any of the extras as he had his arm in a sling. Thinking nothing of I walked past him to take a little stroll and turned round after a few steps not  wanting to wander too far from the bus in case we were called back on to set. When I did, who else would the man turn out to be but Ralph Fiennes.

I must have had a bit of a deer caught in the headlights expression on my face as he grinned when he spotted me. Again that thought of not having opportunities like this flashed across my mind. So I waited until he was off the phone and approached him. This conversation I don’t remember as well as the one with Daniel Craig as it was a bit more broad, but we had a nice little discussion about his time at RADA and his brothers time at Guildhall. Again just lovely to speak to someone who encourages you in that way.

Shortly after that was done for my time on Bond. I loved every second of it even thought in the total amount of days I spent on set, I was only maybe used for about 4/5 hours of it! Quite insane lol! But I enjoyed it, got to speak to some major players of british acting and made a friend or two out of it too.

Now onwards and upwards, this time next week I’ll know if I’ve gotten through to the next round of auditions in Guildhall as I have my preliminary audition next Monday afternoon. I’m a little nervous as this is the first time I’m going back into performing since uni and I feel rusty.

But following DC’s advice, I know my lines down pat, I have no problem being myself around strangers and I hope the pieces I’ve chosen to do will set me apart from the crowd. So fingers crossed, and wish me luck. This year has had a good start to it and I hope that’s a trend I can keep going for the next few months :-)

Adios Cabrons! x

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2 responses

6 02 2012
Pete Davison

What a great story. Stoked to hear that you’re putting yourself out there and getting some work. And on a Bond movie too. Awesome.

You know sometimes you can look back on moments in your life and think “that was a truly defining moment in my existence”? Sounds like your time on set was at least one of those moments.

Good luck, buddy! I’m expecting great things of you. :)

13 02 2012
Mike

Awesome story, bud! Great to see that worked out pretty much better than you could’ve hoped for! Much <3!

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