Marauder with Flag

While we wait for the light they tell us not to look at the camera. Nothing irks them more than that, amateur extras who believe they’ll make it into the final print with one of those hey Mom I’m in the movies grins tacked to their faces. It’s hard though—so many of us. Hundreds of us to watch over in a field this big, barely light out; one of these newbies is bound to mess the thing up. They’ve put the experienced guys up front, Benji and Hector and me and a bunch of stunt guys—the ones the agencies sent over. Behind us in the next four or five rows are a mix of actors’ friends, crew members, and a dozen college kids who won a contest.

“I hope no one gets hurt,” Benji whispers to me, leaning over, his two epic paws ringing the slight shaft of the spear he’s been asked to hold. “I wonder who handles their liability? Maybe I can give someone a card.”

Benji’s barbarian wig slopes to the left. A month ago he would have been perfect for more than a front-row assignment. They might have given him a close-up, dying at the hands of the evil prince, but his new insurance job took those long, greasy locks that casting agents go for. Now he’s like every other six-foot-nine guy you find at the gym.

“Dude, no one here wants your card. Look around,” Hector says, sneering as he does through his radioactive overbleached teeth. “You don’t think this guy’s got insurance. I mean, he’s a billionaire. Did you see the roller coaster on the way in?”

“Was a billionaire, Hector,” I say, quick to Benji’s defense, quick to contradict anything Hector has to say. “Antitrust ruling. Things must really be bad if he has to rent land out to these Hollywood hacks.”

Unfazed, Benji says, “You never know until you ask.”

The director, impish, with red hair spun behind her, is standing in the camera-crane bucket, roaring through her megaphone. “This scene is about love, about taking back what’s been taken from you, and fighting for what matters most, and preserving a way of life soon lost in a modern world, but mostly it’s about love.” She sounds so sincere you wonder if she actually believes it. “This will be different, unlike anything anyone has ever seen.”

Trust me, it won’t be.

You’ve seen this before.

One small band of angry barbarians (which is us), loyal to a warrior queen who is in search of her stolen love, a princess captured by the evil prince, whose larger and more imposing army we’re about to face. She rages and burns to cinder everything she comes upon, hence the fake fire behind us. And there will be, of course, wide panoramic shots to capture the ridiculous magnitude of it all, this organized chaos, and close-ups of hand-to-hand brutality, and highlights of interesting death. Our side is outnumbered; few will survive. Contractually I am not allowed to give away the specifics.

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