Aspiring filmmaker and LHS graduate Dean Parker showed up in a key scene on the CBS Television hit drama NCIS Tuesday, March 24
By: Chuck Gibson
LOVELAND, OH – Dean Parker appeared on stage while a student at Loveland Middle School and Loveland High School, but earned national recognition for his filmmaking before graduating and entering Ohio University to pursue professional filmmaking.
Dean Parker with famous Hollywood hill sign in the background (Provided)
Parker graduated from Ohio University in December and moved out to Los Angeles, California (Hollywood) in the middle of January. On Tuesday night, March 24, he appeared prominently in the background of a scene on the CBS hit drama NCIS episode entitled “Schooled”.
“When I was in it, it happens kind of quick,” said Parker. “Obviously I’m not the main focus of the scene. I was right behind one of the actors, which was cool.”
Parker met up with a fellow Ohio University Alum when he arrived in L.A. to ask her for advice on how to get on a professional set, and how to get some work as a production assistant. She’s currently an assistant director and told him about a “great service” called Central Casting. They hire people to be background extras of movies and television shows. The company posts job listings online for which people can submit themselves. The listings keep the shows anonymous to avoid potential popularity and preference issues.
“I was on the job listings and submitted myself for a show that said: looking for 20-30 year olds, have a car, submit photo of car,” Parker explained.
He heard back within a couple hours and was asked if he’d be interested in coming the next day to do background work on NCIS. Parker texted back “Sure”, was confirmed and booked.
“I found myself getting up early the next morning – 6 a.m. – driving 40 minutes to the location in Santa Clarita near Six Flags Magic Mountain Amusement Park. It was cool. I was on set from 8 a.m.- 4 p.m.. It was a full day of work. “
Parker’s car was used in a scene. They had him drive his car and park it at the location. The location was a building made to look like a college. He was directed to park his car in front of the college. The purpose was to make it look like the college was busy. All the extras were placed in an upstairs room inside the building. They all waited there together until “every now and then” an assistant director would come up, look around and say; you, you, you and you, come with me.
“That’s kind of how it went all day,” said Parker. “Just sit there, kind of wait to see if they would use you. They actually used me three times.”
The first time he was taken outside, handed a backpack and told to walk across the entrance doors. He did that for 20 minutes. With changing angles, scenes can take a long time to shoot. Parker didn’t make the cut in that first scene. You can’t see him. He went back upstairs and waited some more. An assistant director came back up and picked four more people including Dean. They were taken downstairs, told where to stand, and given directions to talk to each other.
“It was the guest actor in the episode who played the Dean of the college,” Parker said. “I was like, oh wow, they’re really throwing us into this scene. That was really cool.”
Screenshot shows Dean Parker right of the guest actor playing the college dean (Courtesy Lauren Parker)
Soon the regular cast members of the show came out. Parker knew they were in something kind of important right there. All of a sudden, he found himself in the middle of an important scene.
“The cast came over really close to us,” he said. “I’m like, oh my gosh, I’m probably going to be seen on TV because I’m really exposed right now. The scene took almost an hour to shoot.”
Parker was right, he was seen on TV. In a bit of an ironic twist, Loveland’s Dean Parker was easily seen right behind the Dean of the college. He wanted to talk to the crew between takes, but on that professional set thought it might be unprofessional to do so. He mostly stood off to the side minding his own business while the crew set things up so they could get back to work.
The guest actor, playing Dean of the College, asked all the backgrounders how many shows they’d done. All had been in multiple shows. Parker was the only one to say this was his first time.
“He said: ‘Welcome to the club’,” said Parker. “We talked with him a little. He was really cool, funny.”
It was Parker’s first exposure to professional crew. He hoped to sit and talk with them during lunch break, but crew ate at a separate time, the cast ate separately. It was good food including pasta and meatballs, salad, peas, green beans and cake. They were running behind. When they finished the scene, he waited a long time and was used in one more scene before shooting ended.
“That was it, had us fill out some paper work, and I was off on my way,” Parker said. “It was a cool first exposure. I got to see a professional set working.”
CLICK HERE TO WATCH YOUTUBE VIDEO OF THE NCIS SCENE WITH DEAN PARKER (He’s visible within first 15 seconds of the 3-plus minute scene.)
Parker was looking to see the difference between a professional set and the student set where he gained most of his previous filmmaking crew experience. He saw the difference more money makes with better food and production value. Putting that aside, it wasn’t really different. The set was still chaotic as they ran into problems and had to fix them.
“This happens all the time on a student set,” said Parker. “I feel right at home.”
Los Angeles is home for Parker now. It has been since just the middle of January. Things happened pretty quickly after he arrived out there. The NCIS episode was shot at the beginning of February. Unfortunately, the coronavirus has things on hold in Hollywood. There’s no background work right now, no production assistant gigs going on. He’s doing “Door-Dash” hoping things will get better soon. . . for all of us everywhere. He knows he had good luck with his first background shoot.
“There is no guarantee you’ll be seen,” he said. “To have my first background experience be so prominently seen was really cool. That is not something that happens a lot. I don’t know if I’ll get that luck again.”
Dean Parker is visible in this screenshot later in the same NCIS scene (Courtesy Lauren Parker)
Parker did the background work to get exposure on a professional set. He was the only one there not trying to be an actor. He was there to be a crew member, trying to get a look at a pro set. He saw a focused crew . He’s been on sets when they were not as focused. He was reminded when you are at work, you have to be on your toes, totally focused. The crew had fun too.
“When it was time to work, they were completely committed,” Parker explained. “It reminded me that’s how you have to work when you’re trying to work in this industry.”
For one episode of NCIS aired on Tuesday, March 24, Dean Parker was a background actor on a pro set where he was the only one there who wanted to be on crew. Of course he admitted if someone wants to hire him for a show or movie, he wouldn’t say no. Maybe, only half kidding, he suggested it might be fun to go to some auditions for fun to see what happens. After all, he had a lot of experience on stage during middle school and high school in drama with Shawn Miller.
“All my theater culminated in that one scene,” joked Parker. “It’s still early for me out here. I’m still trying to find my way. It’s a journey, for sure. I’m going to ride it out. It takes commitment.”
ONE MORE TIME: CLICK HERE TO WATCH YOUTUBE VIDEO OF THE NCIS SCENE WITH DEAN PARKER (He’s visible within the first 15 seconds of the 3-pus minute video)