The two girls patiently waited at the bus stop, tickets in their hands.
Jiang Se’s back was already soaked through with sweat, both from the heat and the amount of walking she had done.
She fanned her sweaty face, and from the corner of her eyes, she would notice a person or two glance at her face, pause, and take a second look.
Unsettled by the amount of attention she was getting, she turned her body sideways.
Beside her, Lu Bao Bao was still browsing through her mobile phone, looking for more information about the film crew they were about to visit.
“According to this article, ‘Operation Rescue’ has a total investment of 200 million yuan,” Lu Bao Bao told Jiang Se as she wiped away the sweat on her forehead with the back of her hand.
“It’s so hot today! Se Se, do you want to drink some water”
“I’m broke,” Jiang Se bluntly replied, shaking her head.
She only had twenty yuan in her pocket, which she found after looking through all of her belongings and searching even under her bed, pillow, and notebook.
The ticket for Shen Farms was expensive.
For one round trip ticket, it costs one person ten yuan.
If she were to buy water now, she would have to walk back to the Du family’s house later.
For a brief moment, she recalled her old life—only half a month ago, she had spent money like water.
Feeling a little irritated, she patted Lu Bao Bao on the head and asked, “Tell me, what’s this ‘Operation Rescue’ all about”
“I don’t know,” Lu Bao Bao replied truthfully as she blinked innocently at Jiang Se.
“Renowned directors like the one in this movie like to be secretive about their projects.
They will never reveal anything until they have to.
But don’t worry, Se Se.
Since we will be joining the crew, even as extras, we should be able to find out something!”
“I really admire your confidence.
We haven’t even gotten there yet, and you already expect us to get in,” Jiang Se said, deadpan.
Lu Bao Bao only callously shrugged her shoulders in reply.
The weather progressively got hotter and hotter, and Lu Bao Bao finally bought two bottles of water from the vending machine once sweat started to soak her shirt.
Returning with her purchases in hand, she smiled at Jiang Se and generously gave her a bottle.
When the girls arrived at the Shen Farms, it was already a quarter past 10 o’clock in the morning.
The sun was fully up in the sky, and there was quite a crowd in the surrounding area.
Most probably, these people were either hoping to spot some celebrities to fan over, some paparazzi looking for their next story, or were aspiring actors/actresses yearning to be hired as an extra or even a background prop.
Looking around, the Shen Farms did not look like your typical farm or ranch.
Due to the presence of the Da Xing River, several buildings were constructed during the Qing Dynasty, giving rise to its history.
Shen Cong Zhi, a wealthy merchant, bought all the nearby land and a section of the river, and on these he later built a sizable wharf and a port.
Historical records show that because of its location, it was frequently attacked by trespassers and other parties who wanted to take it for themselves.
Shen Cong Zhi, however, was fearless in the face of aggression and never surrendered.
Even against all odds and against the threat of firearms and death, Shen Cong Zhi staunchly defended this place, as he feared the enemy would use this place to transport weapons and harm the country.
Shen Cong Zhi ultimately perished in battle with the enemy, making the Shen Farms a well-known location.
Through the years, it had become a pretty well-known tourist spot, not only because there were historical structures preserved but also because the heroic deeds of the martyrs made it so.
Consequently, it also became a popular filming site for republican era dramas and movies.
Jiang Se was not sure what she expected to see once she arrived, but it was definitely not the sight of hundreds—no, probably, thousands—of people milling about.
Feeling a little foolish, for trusting Lu Bao Bao’s words, Jiang Se looked around helplessly.
She should have known that if someone like Lu Bao Bao could acquire information about the film crew, then others could easily do so as well.
Fortunately, because there were plenty of people around, it was relatively easy to find out where the exact filming location was.
What was disheartening, though, was that she and Lu Bao Bao were just two among the thousands of people waiting around.
The throng of people lining up and lounging around was astounding; by the looks of things, it seemed impossible to squeeze forward.
At the very front of the most crowded place, stern-faced security guards and staff barred everyone from coming in.
No matter how much the good-looking boys and girls cajoled, bribed, and persuaded, they were firmly rebuffed.
Jiang Se pulled back the eager Lu Bao Bao, who was about to dive into the fray, and glared at her, saying, “Didn’t you say they were hiring extras”
“Yeah, but, I didn’t think there would be this many people either.” Lu Bao Bao answered, a frustrated look on her face.
Even though they were at the tail end of the mass of people, Jiang Se still felt like she was about to be crushed.
Lu Bao Bao was holding on tightly to her hand for fear of being lost in the crowd.
She knew there would be plenty of people here just to look at the stars, but she never expected there would be just as many looking for work.
Those who were looking to enter the film crew, a few of whom were wearing costumes or were in formal wear, stood apart from the crowd.
They were completely unlike the fans, who were just enthusiastically waving their phones in the air, eager to catch a photo of their idols.
Most aspiring walk-on actors and actresses had their own news and information sources, and more than half had been waiting here for days in the small hope of getting a chance to introduce themselves to a director or a producer.
Because of this, everyone who looked like they were part of the staff was being questioned, including the security personnel.
Jiang Se could only sigh again when she realized how truly unrealistic her expectations were.
With all the competition around, it seemed even more impossible to fight for a chance to audition.
Jiang Se moved back and away from the crowd, and went in search of security staff in the opposite direction.
She needed to know if the crew had finished recruiting or not, walking around aimlessly was not going to help.
“Hello, sir, could I ask you a question Has the film crew of ‘Operation Rescue’ begun recruiting walk-ins”
Jiang Se’s fair, sweaty face easily stood out.
Even when she was not looking her best, she still caught the staff’s attention.
Her skin was fair, her eyes were large, and her figure was good.
Her looks were so pleasing that even though staff members like him had been around dozens of beautiful stars for years, he still could not help but appreciate Jiang Se’s stunning looks for a brief moment.
However, it was only a brief moment.
Young, aspiring, beautiful girls like Jiang Se were a dime a dozen in this industry, and he quickly evaluated her chances of passing the preliminary casting test and then pointed her in a different direction.
“Turn left at the gate over there and then head right; look for a sign that says ‘Chang Chun Lou’.
There should be someone there who can help you.”
Jiang Se paused for a moment to consider the truth of the security staff’s words before quickly thanking him and dragging Lu Bao Bao in the direction he pointed.
Thankfully, when they turned right, Jiang Se immediately spotted the ‘Chang Chun Lou’ the guard mentioned.
The ‘sign’ was actually one of those historical doorways, an archway made of stone with engraved words.
Below it, there was also a security team guarding the area, and several people were crowding around some of the staff.
However, compared to where she just came from, there were only about a hundred or so here.
There were young people in their teens just like her, and there were old people who looked to be in their fifties or sixties.
There were so many hopefuls—young, old, men or women—from all walks of life; however, even though the competition seemed fewer here, her chances did not greatly improve.
Jiang Se wrinkled her brow in thought as she considered what course of action to take next; most of the people here seemed to be just waiting for something—although she could not be sure of what exactly it was.
Just then, in the distance, a young man in a white shirt was making his way to this side.
As he neared, the people milling about began to stir when they noticed him, and they quickly moved closer to the archway.
“All right, don’t crowd me.
Step back and give me a little space, please.
Thank you! Listen up, I need about fifty or so men of all ages, and I also need about twenty women with the same criteria!” The young man yelled, placing his hands around his mouth to magnify his voice.
Lu Bao Bao immediately started bouncing on her feet and started dragging Jiang Se forward.
She drilled into the mob of people and elbowed her way to the front.
This was her chance to meet a star; she was not going to pass it up.
As the girls struggled forward, they could hear the young man shout every now and then, “You! You as well, yes you, and you! You—”
Whoever was chosen immediately stood to one side, while the rest tiptoed and tried to make their faces visible.
Halfway to our destination, Lu Bao Bao suddenly lifted her hand up and yelled, “Pick us! Over here! We’re both girls.
Her voice was so loud that she successfully caught the young man’s attention in just a second.
His eyes flickered over their faces, resting on Jiang Se for a moment before saying, “Yes, you two.
Come over.” There was a look of clear appreciation in his eyes as he gestured at them.
Jiang Se was looking a little disheveled after having been manhandled by Lu Bao Bao and squeezed by the crowd, but her good looks still shone through.
The young man spent a few more minutes choosing more people, and when he finished, he waved away the rest and signaled for everyone else to follow him inside.
From time to time, he would turn around and look at Jiang Se, a small smirk appearing on his face.
Those who were not chosen let out groans of disappointment or mumbled complaints, but they soon calmed down and sat down in place to wait for the next opportunity.
Lu Bao Bao was practically skipping as she walked, excited as she was that even the heat could no longer dampen her mood.
“Se Se, can you believe it We were picked! Hahaha!” She retrieved her phone from her pocket and held it in her hand; a determined look crossed her face.
“I hope we get to meet Liu Ye, Lu Bing Bing, Zhao Ruo Yun, and Ruan Mi—ah! I’m so excited.
I’m going to ask for their autographs or maybe a photo together.”
With barely contained excitement, Jiang Se, Lu Bao Bao, and the other fifty or so people followed behind the young man.
Another person came over to meet them, clearly in a hurry as he gesticulated and urged the crowd, “Men, come to me.
This way! Change into your costumes quickly.”
The young man in the white shirt also turned around and pointed in another direction, saying, “Women can change into their costumes over there.
There will be a sign that says ‘Changing Room.’ Go inside and look for the person in charge of makeup.
Listen to their instructions and don’t go anywhere else, understand”
After relaying the instructions, he gestured at Jiang Se and said, “You over there, come here.”
Jiang Se hesitated for a moment, unsure what to do, especially when the women around her gave her strange looks as they walked away.
Lu Bao Bao beside her naively asked, “Why is he calling you”
Jiang Se took a shallow breath and walked towards the young man, with Lu Bao Bao following right behind her.
Thankfully, he did not do anything out of the ordinary, possibly because of Lu Bao Bao’s presence, and just fished out a calling card from his pocket with a smile.
“This is my card.
My name is Zhang Fan.
I’m in charge of recruiting walk-ins and extras for the crew.
If you’re interested in acting in movies, give me a call.”