After receiving a call from an NBC production office scouting young musicians, Matt Harris, head of California State University, Northridge’s Jazz Studies Program, could not resist sharing the opportunity with his students: a cameo in NBC’s new television show A.P. Bio.
“We’re here in Hollywood,” Harris said. “Going on set to see how production works … it’s such a great experience to be involved. The other part is professionalism — showing up on time and doing what you’re supposed to do. Those kind of big pictures prepare students.”
The CSUN Matador Band’s drumline will be featured in an episode of A.P. Bio. Matador Band drum line members Mario Melo (snare drum), Kevin Candray (bass drum), Genavieve Mather (cymbals), Austin Lucky (tenor drums) and Cynthia Garcia (bass drum) were cast to put their acting and percussion skills to the test.
The show follows Harvard graduate Jack Griffin, played by Glenn Howerton (It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia), who returns reluctantly returns to small town Ohio to teach an Advanced Placement course after losing out on his dream job. The comedy series is the product of executive producers Seth Meyers, Mike O’Brien and Lorne Michaels, of NBC’s Saturday Night Live.
A.P. Bio officially premieres Thursday, March 1 in its 8:30 p.m. time slot. (Three episodes aired in February and were available online as part of a sneak peak.) The Matadors are featured in the season-finale episode titled Drenching Dallas that will air in the spring but currently does not have an official air date.
The scenes featuring the CSUN students were filmed Nov. 6 at CBS Studios in Studio City, and Nov. 9-10 at a local continuation high school in Chatsworth.
To prepare for their on-screen role, the students had to arrive on-set for an 8 a.m. call time for hair, makeup and costume fittings.
While on set, the students had the opportunity to network and mingle with other actors in between takes. Filming for a particular scene can take more than four hours, depending on set up and which angles the director wants to capture.
“The experience was super crazy. We were treated like royalty,” said Melo, a business marketing major. “It shed light on how intense it is to be an actor and land roles.”
The Matador Band members were contracted to act and perform live music in selected scenes. Originally, the students were booked to perform with instruments for one day, but the producers were so impressed with their acting abilities and the students were hired on for two more days, sharing scenes with actors Patton Oswalt and Brianne Tju.
“Playing an instrument or having training in certain skills that most actors may not … may just [make it] easier to land a role without acting experience,” Melo said.
Harris said it was important for student musicians to land “sideline gigs” such as the TV shoot.
“It’s important for musicians to always say ‘yes’ if someone asks you to do work,” Harris said. “You can always learn something new. [Students] need to put [themselves] out there.”