“We’ll be playing dead people,” Jiang Se replied.
Although it was a little difficult to make out the expression on Jiang Se’s face because of the dark makeup, her voice was unmistakably calm.
The others had also been paying attention, so when they heard this new piece of information, a burst of excited murmurs spread out as they began speculating about what would happen.
One of the more experienced extras even exclaimed in a low voice, “If we get lucky enough, it might be possible to get some kind of bonus pay after this!”
Lu Bao Bao wanted to turn around and ask, but an assistant director was already calling out to the staff to start tying the extras with ropes.
The ‘captives’ were split into groups, some of whom were directed towards several wooden pillars by the riverbank, and some of whom were arranged by the river’s edge.
Jiang Se’s hands were pulled behind her back, and an intricate knot was used to tie them together.
The same staff also briefly taught her how and where to pull the rope in order to unravel it quickly, in the event that she needed to untie herself.
She then followed his instructions and walked with the others to the area he pointed out.
Off to one side, she saw the ‘enemy group.’ They had prop bayonets in their hands, and they were talking amongst themselves as they prepared for the coming scenes.
The place was abuzz with work.
People from the props department took out the prepared ‘blood bags’ and fixed them carefully in various locations on the extras’ bodies.
They explained how the ‘blood bags’ could be triggered and demonstrated how much fake blood could come out.
They repeatedly warned them not to act rashly, as these things can only be replaced with a new one once used.
A man holding a pen and paper was earnestly talking to a woman, outlining to her the storyline of today’s scene, “… and so, you only have to wait for Gao Rong to say his lines, and you should immediately respond with a ‘bah!’, understand”
The woman had a line, unlike the rest of them, who were only told to look scared, nervous, or indignant, and the likelihood of her face appearing in the movie increased by several folds.
Even though there was only one line, it was more than enough—because sometimes all you need is one break.
The other extras looked on with envious faces as the woman enthusiastically listened.
Several minutes later, most preparations had already been finished, and the man addressed the other captives, waving them over to his side as he instructed, “As for the rest of you, you will only need to watch out for when the ‘enemy’ brandishes the prop swords.
They will be coming from here, and as soon as they wave their ‘weapons,’ I want you to wince and…”
The man gave a simple demonstration of what they were to do all while explaining how the scene should look.
“…after the ‘blood bags’ explode, you can fall down here.
Try to do it as naturally as possible.
We’d also like it if several of you fall directly into the river.”
He then gestured towards the river, pointing to an area where there were several people floating in the water.
“There’s no need to worry about getting injured or drowning; basic safety measures have all been prepared, and we have assigned plenty of people to help you all out.
Those who voluntarily fall into the river will get an additional 20 yuan in pay.”
The man clapped his hands together and said, “That’s about it; okay, everyone get ready!”
For this scene, there was no Liu Ye, the movie king, or even those popular young actresses, but the preparations were careful enough, even though today’s scene would just be a short segment out of the whole movie.
Everyone quickly shuffled to their places.
Jiang Se, along with a few others, were the ones to fall into the river, while Lu Bao Bao and her group were chosen to be tied around the pillar—saving them from having to dip into the cold water today.
Jiang Se looked down at the edge of where she stood and braced herself for what was about to come.
A few more quick discussions and yelled instructions followed, and a director then yelled, “Let’s do a test run; ready Action!”
A man, holding one of those iconic clapperboards, strode from behind the camera, wrote on the clapperboard briefly with chalk, then nodded at the director and bellowed, “Take one!”
This was the first time to shoot the scene, and after the sharp sound of the clapperboard rang out, a middle-aged actor dressed as an enemy soldier stepped forward and bellowed in a grim tone, “If Zhou Ming Chong does not hand over that thing, all of you will die!”
Silence greeted him as the captive group of actors stared back dumbly.
A director slapped his hand on a table and yelled, “Cut! Cut!”
The assistant director who had given them instructions earlier then hurried over to the woman and yelled, “The hell! Are you stupid Didn’t I just tell you that you have to say ‘bah!’ once Gao Rong finishes his lines What’s wrong with you”
The woman flinched and quickly looked down at the ground.
She wanted to apologize but could only keep her head bowed as the man hurled curses.
“Let’s go again!”
Everyone moved back into position, and the cameras and lighting were aimed at the captives and Gao Rong.
Gao Rong also walked back to where he was to enter the scene and went through the motions and lines again.
With one hand on the bayonet at his waist, he shouted again.
“If Zhou Ming Chong does not hand over that thing, all of you will die!”
This time the woman was able to react, but unfortunately, it was just a beat too late.
“Bah…” she spat.
Her voice was hardly audible.
Her words lacked any force or conviction either.
She almost sounded as though she had just sighed.
The same assistant director stomped to the scene with fury, shouting, “Can you do it or not You’re wasting our time! If you can’t do it, I’ll replace you right now.”
There were already tears forming in her eyes as the woman listened to the scolding.
She shook her head and apologized, then promised she could do it this time.
Gao Rong performed the exact same actions and lines a third time, but this time, unlike the first two, the woman finally managed to deliver her lines clearly.
“Bah!” the woman spat loudly.
None of the directors called out to stop, so the actors continued with their scene.
However, the assistant director and the director were having a serious discussion, their brows furrowed as they considered what to do.
Gao Rong’s character fumed with rage at the woman’s provocation.
He ground his teeth, cursed at the woman a few times, then all of a sudden he pulled out his gun and pointed it at the woman.
The director called for the filming to stop, and the props people and other crew hurried forward.
Another round of checking, adjusting, and reiterating instructions followed.
A weapons master took the gun from Gao Rong’s hands and inspected the equipment, making sure it was working—or not working—as intended.
Jiang Se’s eyes narrowed when she spotted the gun.
It did not look fake at all.
In fact, she was sure that the glint coming off of it was the same as the real thing.
Thankfully, there should be no bullets inside.
Given how much investment money the movie had, ‘Operation Rescue’s’ investors and crew should have demanded that everything be of high quality, and that included using real props—thus, real guns.
In their pursuit of looking authentic, instead of just filming a gun going off and then blood bags exploding, the director and producer insisted on filming it in one whole shot without having to adjust with CGI or splice some scenes together.
The assistant director waved everyone to their positions and instructed both Gao Rong and the woman to run the lines one more time.
Jiang Se, at this time, had partially tuned out what was happening.
She was incredibly uncomfortable in her costume.
The sun was too hot, and there was hardly any breeze.
Beads of sweat kept flowing down her back, drenching it fully.
In order to emphasize the captives’ difficult and miserable situation, they were told to stand under the sun all this time and were then forbidden to move.
During the short break, several makeup artists quickly did retouches and made sure none of the makeup had run down.
Safety checks were repeated again and again everywhere, making sure nothing would go awry, until the weapons master finally finished inspecting the gun and went back; the other staff also retreated.
When Gao Rong lifted his gun and aimed it, the woman immediately reacted, and the ‘blood bag’ on her body exploded.
Once more, the woman received a tongue-lashing for acting too soon and consequently wasting a prop.
“Let’s skip this scene for now and finish the one with the group of captives first,” a director interjected.
He was wearing sunglasses and a hat and was sitting on a director’s chair with a look of impatience on his face.
The camera crew began moving, and all of the equipment was quickly turned towards Jiang Se and the others.
Adjustments were made, instructions were repeated, and a new round of filming began.
The camera first panned to a row of guns on the scene and then swept towards the captives.
Jiang Se was standing by the river’s edge, and she watched intently as a man with a sword made his way towards her.
When he neared, he sneered maliciously at her, then raised his sword up high and slashed it forward.
The sword blade hit her on the left side of her shoulders, knocking her back.
The sword was just a prop, and she would never sustain any serious injury from such an action, but even so it was a well-made prop and very heavy.
The man’s swing also had a little force behind it.
The dull pain made her wince.
Recalling what the assistant director had told her a while ago, her face contorted in pain, and she screamed loudly once.
The ‘blood bag’ exploded and dyed her shoulder and chest red.
She then stumbled into the water, all the while surreptitiously yanking at the rope to free herself as she fell.
On such a swelteringly hot day, Jiang Se, who was wearing thick clothes made for winter, fell into the cool water, immediately bringing her relief.
She sank into the river, and the water rushed all around her.
Her clothes became heavy and cumbersome as they absorbed the water.
Luckily, Jiang Se knew how to swim and did not panic.
Moreover, as the assistant director promised, there were people on standby who quickly came to her aid and brought her to the shore.
Behind her, the rest of the extras were also brought to shore, one by one.
Jiang Se wobbly stood up, wrung the water out of her wet, heavy coat, and wiped the water off her face.
Just like that, most of her makeup was quickly smeared away.
A director was looking at the video camera and replaying the scene; he then signaled the assistant director, and the filming stopped.
There followed another flurry of conversation.
Now that the filming had been halted again, the extras gathered together and looked for places to rest.
Lu Bao Bao was taken down from the pillar.
There were also blood stains on her body, as she, too, had her own death scene.
She quickly ran to where Jiang Se was, her round face full of trepidation.
“That scared the heck out of me!” Lu Bao Bao exclaimed as she sat by Jiang Se.
“When I saw you fall, I was genuinely frightened out of my wits.”
Coming to this film crew and acting as an extra was not as fun as Lu Bao Bao originally thought.
There were no big movie stars, not even any small ones, so she could not ask for an autograph or a photo.
Lu Bao Bao had some remorse for coming here today.
“When the gun was aimed at me, I nearly cried,” she said with a shudder as she turned to Jiang Se with a defeated expression.
Jiang Se carefully separated her hair into sections and squeezed them one by one; her hair was too long and thick, and there was simply too much water.
“The guns they’re using should be real ones, but don’t worry, there’s a weapons master who is watching over things.
He’s been inspecting them carefully, so there shouldn’t be any problem.”