Fake it ’til you make it!

A few weeks ago, I submitted for an acting gig to portray a “Badminton Instructor”.  This was after a friend of mine convinced me to play badminton with her one day at the local YMCA.  I got good enough at it to convince myself that I could indeed pull off this role if the casting agent booked me for it.  As luck would have it, they called me about two weeks later and I got booked.  In my mind, I am thinking that I will be portraying a teacher who shows students how to play badminton in the scene.

The badminton scene was for an upcoming series that is set in the 1850s.  The day before the shoot, I received an email about what to bring to set.  For a period piece, actors are almost always fitted with a period costume at a separate wardrobe fitting days before the shoot.  I found it odd that I was not asked to go for a fitting, but to simply show up on set as is.  On the morning of the shoot, I was asked to report directly to the AD (Assistant Director) where I would receive further instructions from her.

I meet the AD Connie and she greets me with, “Good morning Josh, so you’re the badminton advisor for the actors?”.  I immediately say to myself, “What the f&ck?!”, then my acting skills kick in and I say, “Yes, of course I am”.  At that moment, I realized that the acting gig I had originally submitted for was not to portray a badminton instructor IN the scene; it was to teach the two principal actors how to really play badminton FOR the scene!    At this moment, I convinced myself to say and do whatever I had to in order to pull this gig off.  I do know how to play badminton after all.

The AD and another assistant then dropped an extremely old badminton set on the lawn and asked me to help them put it together.  The badminton set looked like it was from the 1800s which was appropriate for today’s shoot.  Through trial and error, I was able to get it set up for them.

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The two young actors who looked like they were in their mid- to late-20s show up fully dressed in period clothes.  The AD introduced them to me as their badminton instructor and we all shook hands.  They handed them the rackets and shuttlecock and they set themelves up on the court.  They are both looking at me now for guidance and of course I had to say something.  They’re paying me to do my job after all.

I tell them to always try to hit the shuttlecock up in the air for it will be much easier to hit it.  The actors agree and begin a volley.  At first they don’t get the hang of it, then after awhile, they start hitting consistently long volleys.  The director in me takes over and I ask them to start reading their lines as they practice their volleys.  It all comes together so well that the AD relieves me and signs me out after being there for 2 1/2 hours.  Not bad for a $200 gig!

Badminton advisor: add that to the list of many jobs I’ve had in my life.