Friday, August 24, 2007

Extras, Extras, Talking All About It

Do you think the actors in this scene have annoyed their loved ones with constant stories about 'that time I worked with Nicole Kidman' ?

Because, well, wouldn't you if you were in their shoes? I often wonder that about extras in spectacular spectacular movie sequences. To be fair these men are singing and dancing so this is a good deal more than typical "extra" work but still... the question remains. Was this a special day or just another day in the office for these guys? (Tangent: Yes, I'm feeling guilt about that abandoned MR! project. One of these days. One of these days...) I sometimes wonder about things like that. I'd love to chat with any one of these guys about that day(s).

If you've ever been an extra or more in a movie, tell us about it in the coments.


Unknown said...

I was an extra in Die Hard 4. It's weird to spend an entire day shooting a scene that ends up only being a couple of seconds long. The scene takes place outside of the "DC" Police Department (we actually shot in Baltimore, which looks surprisingly nothing like DC). It's after all hell breaks loose with the traffic signals and McClane is pushing his way through large a crowd. I'm in that crowd, and Bruce actually walked right passed me all day long. I was struck by how youthful he appeared up close. On screen I could make out my nose and hair, but the rest was a blur up there. Too bad, I gave a damn solid performance as an anguished working professional who will stop at nothing to find out if his family is safe.

Despite how hot it was in Baltimore, the day went by in a flash. Bruce was all business, and at one point lightly reprimanded an extra that tried to snap a shot of him with a camera phone. She was union, and should have known better. As a non-union actor, I pocketed $65, and they were good about passing out drinks, snacks, and sunscreen often. At the end of the day we were all given Subway and a bus ride back to our cars. The movie turned out horrible, but I'd do it again.

c.p. iñor said...

I was an extra in "Traffic" in the scene where Catherine Zeta-Jones is walking up the stairs in "Sr. Amigo", I think that just my feet are seen... it was cool cuz CZJ is really cool she was really nice and was smiling the entire time, she was pregnant and she never complained about anything.

Glenn Dunks said...

I somehow doubt the Moulin extras were there for only a day.


kamikaze --very true. i mean. they had weeks of rehearsals i'm sure since these are production numbers

so yes the title is misleading


fun stories. and joshua i'm sure that was a damn fine performance! if only they had oscars for walk ons ;)

Anonymous said...

"Abandoned" MR project? My heart sinks a little further knowing that you think of it that way (rather than "a work in progress") I can hear Satine's protestations now:

"Did you boys hear that? *gasp* Even Nat has abandoned me - as if there could be ANYTHING more important than paying homage to moi!"



it's not TRUE abandonment. it just feels like i can't get it down. it's started already but it taunts me with its incompleteness.


Anonymous said...

Nat I feel your pain, completely. (Looks nervously at stack of uncompleted stories that are screaming for completion. Or a merciful death.)


J.J. said...

For a high-profile studio movie like Moulin Rouge, it was probably just another day at the office for those guys (except maybe for the guys who were actually lifting Nicole!).

All extras on a set like that are real union actors who usually do theatre/commercial/voiceover work with the occasional feature film on the side. God love 'em. It's a tough little life, but one they take very seriously.

I was an extra on the forthcoming National Treasure sequel, and wrote about it here and here. The two dozen SAG extras I was "embedded" with were consummate pros. Union people who do their job well. Unfazed. It's a gig. Look for us in the Library of Congress scene when the movie comes out -- we're the bunch of "readers" who are corraled by Harvey Keitel and the FBI when Nicolas Cage steals a document, or whatever. I made, like, almost $350 for two days work. Thank you, Jerry Bruckheimer.

That said, on a lower budget movie, extras are normal volunteering people, and therefore a little more starstruck. Six years ago I extra'd on the set of Manna from Heaven. It's a bad, amateurish movie, but it had a killer cast. Let's just say I gave people like Cloris Leachman, Wendi Malick and Frank Gorshin an earful during the 19 hours we spent kicking around the set, waiting for camera setups.

Anonymous said...

i've extra'ed in 3 movies. in high school, drove to dulles airport to watch filming of "Airport '74" and was in a crowd shot...while karen black and some blonde gal walked by. coal miner's dauhther in sw virginia...scene was when patsy & loretta were singing at 4th of july fair - however it was early march and snowed earlier in the day. they waited for snow to turn to a big wait. spacek & the real loretta lynn came out a few times to talk w crowd. 3rd time was best - i stood right behind paul newman in line at Boston train station in "the verdict"...which took about 2 hours. he turned around, shook hands, introduced himself - some minor small talk. great moment for me. very nice man.


jimmy, those are some fine movies to be a blip in though. congrats.
....and meeting Paul (sigh)

Andrew Bemis said...

I've been an extra in four movies. The first was the ferry sequence in War of the Worlds, which was shot in Athens, NY (near Saratoga). My wife and I spent a night running up and down a hill, gaping at imagined aliens listening to Tom Cruise scream "There's room on the boat!" I can point out where we are in the film (we were even on one of those giant cardboard standees), but we're little specks in a giant wide shot. Spielberg was extremely generous, thanking us repeatedly through the night for our hard work and wrapping by telling us we were the best extras he'd ever worked with. I'm sure he says that to all his extras, but it still felt pretty sweet.

I was also a bystander at the crime scene near the end of The Departed. I'm not in the film (standing behind that ambulance on the far left side of the frame), but I got to watch Scorsese and Michael Ballhaus work for a day, which was more educational than four years of film studies classes. Matt Damon and I also exchanged a quick hello. What a very attractive man.

I recently worked on two movies that have yet to be released. This spring I was a student for Professor Kevin Spacey in 21 (which I wrote about here), and last fall I stood on a sidewalk for some wacky shenanigans in The Rock's upcoming Disney comedy The Game Plan. Nobody was having much fun, and the director was asleep at the wheel. Still, it may be the first time my face appears onscreen - if one of you, for some reason, actually sees The Game Plan, look for me in the scene where The Rock is racing his allergy-stricken daughter to the hospital. I may actually be in several different places, due to the crew's poor attention to continuity.

KingRoper said...

I'm in 'Reversal of Fortune' (1990) in the back of the courtroom scene when von Bulow is found guilty - it's flashed back to several times. It was August in NYC, and the scene was set in Feb, so they asked us to wear winter/wool suits. It was filmed in an old courthouse in Spanish Harlem - and it was sweltering. The best part of the whole day was having PAs scurry in between takes to mop our brows with tissues.

I got paid $50 for a 10 hour day. I don't know how I was cast - I was called from Sylvia Faye (the major extras casting agents), but had never sent them or any other agents a resume... but that didn't stop me from saying yes!

That long day of shooting let me see performances by:
Jeremy Irons - didn't speak, but I got to see him!
Julie Haggerty - no one could hear a word she said from more than 2 feet away, but she was cute.
Uta Hagen - they did many takes, and each one was VASTLY different. I was excited to see what she'd do - but it seemed the director (not the real director - a 1st or 2nd, I think) was getting annoyed with how each take was so different, and so were the rest of us.

You can see me as a blur with a blue tie if you freeze-frame.

They called one other time - I was in a commercial, but I have no idea what it was for. I was in the stands of a basketball court, and they paired me with twin 8 yr-old girls, one on each side... we sat together all day long. And a loooong day it was.

Anonymous said...

i was an extra in the upcoming Fred Claus. I wasn't paid or anything. I was ismply in downtown Chicago the day of filming, climbed over the ropes behind the crew, and introduced myself to a female extra and got the skinny. I followed the cues all afternoon, working pro-bono, and now I'll be watching for myself in the scenes with Vince being a salvation army santa claus in downtown chicago!