Well perhaps not, but over the years I have witnessed some amazing transformations and it might be worth a short study at some Human Science College.
I have worked on a number of hospital based dramas and there are always lots of supporting artists, or extras, walk-ons etc.The people who dash past the camera clutching files and looking very important The crippled old lady in the pushchair, the one who would kill you to get in front of you at the tea break, the two very chatty nurses at the Nurses Station, no doubt talking about last nights conquest … and they do all of this in total silence.
But of course they are not real people at all ..they are film extras.
On one occasion we had a couple of bus loads of these wannabe stars on a hospital location.
They arrived and immediately fell upon the catering wagon for what appeared to be their only meal in three weeks or so. Laden with several sliced pigs and a weeks output from some chickens and a pile of fruit they all sat down together, most of them were acquainted with others, they tend to all come from the same agencies and get sent to the same jobs, over the years they have become good pals..
Until the Wardrobe folk come a calling..
They want ten patients, ten doctors, ten nurses, two bed bounds, two cleaners, two trolley pushers etc, etc…
Still munching their breakfasts our doughty bunch of buddies wander off for their costume fitting…
When they returned…The doctors, in their white coats, scrubs, stethoscopes, all sat at one end of the refectory, the nurses sat at another table, the two porters and the cleaners were completely shunned and the patients were treated as though they had bubonic plague.
This attitude continued for the duration of the shoot..One social group did not interact with any of the others…It was the social grouping and the Uniform.
I had some Americans from NY staying over a couple of weeks ago and during the course of one of many conversations, you all know how Americans can talk, the subject of Hitler’s little helpers came up..as it always does..
At one stage I shocked my guests by saying that if I had been of the right age and a German, at the outset of war or just before it I would have been inclined to join the SS or the Gestapo
Yep..That brought a few gasps from my guests, until I pointed out that the Uniforms were so bloody snazzy and smart any young lad would have been pulled in by them..In those days a very smart Black and Silver Uniform could transform some local, gormless village lad into the local babe magnet. Old Adolf played a smart card there and it was only a damn Uniform..here is example.
Another film I shot was set in a concentration/extermination camp in Poland where Jewish scientists had to produce a vaccine for a disease that was killing German troops fighting on the Russian front.
Those Jewish lads were clever, under the most arduous of conditions they managed to successfully produce the vaccine, but they did not tell their SS Officers in charge of the unit.
The vaccine was tried out on human guinea pigs in the camp hospital and it worked ..all of the sufferers were cured..The Germans were delighted and sent huge batches out to the front line, except it was all dud stuff..The Jewish Scientists removed a vital ingredient and the front line soldiers continued to die.
If they had been discovered they would have all been executed..Fortunately the end of the war precluded that event..The camp Commandant was in fact executed by the inmates at the end of the war before he could leg it.
The point of the story is exactly the same as the first story.
The extras who were issued with smart SS uniforms and the camp guards began to strut around and bellow at each other..and this was in the food queues at lunchtime, meanwhile the poor inmates, dressed in those dreadful stripey jimjams began to defer to them, they allowed them to push to the front of the queue and never ever joined them in any social group..the shoot was over a three week period and some of the actors began to have character changes…very odd and very worrying.
It doesn’t have to be the Germans and the SS I have also witnessed the same phenomena among some brit actors. …particularly during Miltary shoots..the officers begin to act differently and the squaddies all seem to start smoking their ciggies in a different way.
It could be argued that they were all getting into character, but the leading actors take off the uniform and become their former selves, the extras’ seemed to carry their roles home with them and hang on to them, maybe it had something to do with a power complex or loss of power complex..for some it might have been the only time in their lives where they actually looked smart and powerful..who knows..
When you have an opportunity to be in one of the situations described above just watch those film extras..I always wondered where Adolf got his helpers from and now I think I know..
They were all Fashionistas..!!