Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Extra! Extra! My movie experience

I spent the majority of my day yesterday on the set of the Break-up starring Jennifer Anniston and Vince Vaughn. I have always wanted to be in a movie, and I frequent Craig's List where there are always postings for gigs here and there. One day a few months ago I saw one for a casting agency, so I sent them my photo and forgot about it. Well what do you know, but they sent out an e-mail saying if you haven't been in a scene yet, the last one is 8/23, so call and make sure you're in it. I called soon after contemplating missing a day of work and signed up.

I woke up at the disgusting hour of 4:30 a.m. to primp and preen before showing up to the extras holding area, otherwise known as the Hilton, for a 7 a.m. call. I arrived a few minutes late thanks to the always unpredictable city bus. Who know there would be so many people getting on the bus at 6 a.m.? Anyway, I got to the Hilton and signed in and then went over to wardrobe for outfit approval (I was told to bring 3) and then over to hair/make-up for approval, and to get some sunscreen. After being approved, I grabbed a muffin and headed to find an empty seat among the sea of sleepy-eyed, but eager, extras.

About an hour later one of the casting associates announced that 300 people could follow him to the set, so I hopped up and joined the crowd. Little did I know that getting there sooner meant I would just be standing around longer, because that is what an extra does the most. I did get to go on the actual set for a few hours and be part of the crowd watching a band perform at a fictitious art fair though. It was kind of fun pretending to be excited over some horribly cheesy act, but I think the irony of it was what the director was going for. When I wasn't on the set, I walked around aimlessly in the background behind the set with 300 other people to make the wide camera shot look realistic. I didn't mind this for an hour, but after 3 I was ready to go back to the hotel. The word "cut" became a cacaphony in my ears. Every time I heard it I wanted to yell, "stop this madness."

Eventually we did break for lunch, and I pigged out on the catered spread and then vegged out for a few more hours. The super eager people went back to the set immediately following lunch, but my feet weren't very forgiving at this point, so I stayed behind with some people I had met on the set. I think the majority of people stayed behind actually, but I later found out that those who went back saw Jennifer and Vince. Of course that would happen, but I would have collapsed. Five hours after lunch we were all called back to the set and told to rush, because the cameras were fighting the sunset. We shot another stage scene a few times and then it was finally a wrap. Hearing that word was like heaven, until I realized that I had to run along with the mob back to the hotel if I wanted to get out of there any time in the next half hour. Whose smart idea was it to sign time sheets at the end of the shoot anyway? It's not like we're being paid thousands. As you might have concluded, extras are basically movie slaves.

I am glad I participated as an extra, but I don't know if I'd do it again. It certainly was far from the glamorous fantasy I had. I will say that much. At the end of the day all you can do is hope you don't end up on the cutting room floor and then collapse onto your bed.

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