Takes of A Background Extra. Take One.
Yesterday, my wife and I spent the better part of the afternoon and evening on the set of the sequel to a popular horror series. We signed a waiver not to divulge any information on or about the movie so I’m not saying what it was.
I enjoy studying people and how they interact and react in their environment, so as I sat in the extras holding area waiting for our call to the set, I watched and listened. Some of the extras walked around as though they were the main actors and actresses on the set. They spoke to their friends and other extras about the amount of calls they got and who they met. I thought, who cares? You are still just an extra.
Then we were told that a ‘big actress’ was going to be in the movie so we were not only supposed to keep mum on that bit of info but also stay away from her. Have no contact, verbal or otherwise. I thought, Really? I hate to break it to you people but I’m here for the money, not the fame. My ship has sailed. When I finally saw her, neither her name nor her face rang a bell anyways.
We were herded like cattle from set to holding and back by a young punk who looked like he was there to impress his bosses. He kept shushing us as we sat in on a courtroom scene even though the only sound came from the crew people. Maybe he shouldpay more attention instead of seeking more attention.
Our first snack consisted of sandwiches. I hate sandwiches! But I ate a tuna sandwich all the same and hid a roast beef sandwich just in case. I hate sandwiches! I am serious! Five hours after that, we were called to lunch/supper. I could smell the hot food aroma before I entered the room and rubbed my hands in anticipation. It was not for us. It was for the crew and extras who were part of the ACTRA. (Extras were automatically members if they had a speaking part. No matter how small or insignificant).
So the crew and the important extras, were treated to lasagna, rice, salad and the works while we were given a bagged meal. It consisted of a sandwich. AGAIN? an orange, a cookie and a small sample-size bag of chips. I felt like a kid again. I later watched as the leftover lasagna was taken to be tossed.
In the hallways outside the set, a table was decorated with bananas, coffee, apples and other nice snacks. Right across from the table was a water fountain. We were only allowed access to that. Talk about teasing and tempting…I suddenly had a craving for a banana.
A female from the production crew told us to wait in room 214 but while we were walking there like docile cows, we were turned back by another crew member who told us to retreat to where we were. It’s amazing how no one found all this irritating. No one complained about anything. Not the food, not the herding, not the shushing, not the kids talking to grown and respectable adults as if they were stupid children. I didn’t understand it. Put them in a car and try to tell them where to go and you won’t hear the end of it. Is it the chance to feel like they are part of something? Rubbing shoulders with the elite? Bragging rights? I don’t know. I was ready to tell this guy where to go with his, “Go here, go there, don’t talk, don’t move.” You can take your job and shove it! You young greasy hair, lasagna-eating punk!
After all that, I will do it again and again because I love the feeling of rubbing shoulders with the elite and feeling like I’m a part of something. I also know that the food does not always come in a brown bag. So see you on the next set!