Roll Sound, Background, Action! (Part 1)

Dear Reader,

Do you ever get so excited that you simply can’t get your mind to sit still? As an easily amused person, I feel this way, perhaps, more than normal. But, today, I have more of a legit reason to be excited… I’m going to be in a motion picture! Well, it’s one small scene of a movie… in the background… yeah, I’m an extra.

“What’s an extra?” You ask. Extras are just those folks who pass by in a blur or move their mouths and gesticulate behind the action, framing a movie like animated furniture. For a split second, my hand, arm, ankle, or, god willing, face(!) might grace your TV screen for a moment or two (or none at all!). As far as extras on movie sets go, we are at the bottom of the totem pole— which is great if you want to see what goes on behind the scenes and make a little money in the process.

In Boston and in other large cities, announcements for extra work are not uncommon. In fact, this isn’t my first go around on set. Eons ago, I had the pleasure of being both a protester and a sports spectator in large crowd scenes. In fact, the scenes were so packed with people that I can’t even be spotted in the final cut (pity!). It’s a bit of a disappointment, but the experiences were worth it regardless.

This time as an extra, things went a little bit differently for me. Instead of being one in a sea of faces, I was just one of 12 extras set to appear in the background of a bar scene. I can’t go into details about the production (even though I uncommonly wasn’t required to sign an NDA), but I will speculate that this film will be released straight to TV and the “stars” are no one that you’ve heard of. But still— I was giddy out of my mind.

I was able to take advantage of this opportunity to be an extra through a rush announcement that was posted no more than 24 hours before the call time. With my flexible, remote work schedule, I was just available enough to get chosen. First things first, there was some paperwork to fill out for payment. I don’t know what it’s like to be a production assistant but given the odd hours that the emails rushed in, I imagine filming does not afford them the greatest work-life balance. Additionally, that evening, I received a list of instructions, detailing the wardrobe “do’s” and “don’ts”: no stripes, no hot pink, no all black, no all white, etc.. I loaded my duffel bag with tank tops, dresses, shoes, and purses, and then forced myself to go to sleep.

Unlike with many filming days, this one did not start out in the wee hours of the morning. Instead, I arrived just before 10am to a makeshift setup. I did not know which way to turn, but eventually I approached a man with a bunch of papers, and he pointed me in the right direction. The costume guy (I don’t know what his official title is) quickly evaluated my outfit options— “no stripes, they dance on screen. No. Hmmm. The navy top is a maybe. Yes, let’s do the dress!”

With my outfit chosen, I took a seat among the other extras and waited for further instruction. The anticipation of the shoot was half the fun, for more details about my foray on set, look out for part 2 of this post coming to you in the next few days.

More to come!



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