My experience as an extra!

Recently I was an extra for a movie, and by recent I mean like…yesterday. I wish I could tell you all the movie I’m an extra in but I’m under legal obligation not to! The reason I’m writing this article is about the experience and the oddities I experienced, because I think it’s a story worth being told. I went into this production with two of my friends, one being Kathryn, an editor of this site. When Kathryn told me about the opportunity I said yes because I was already bored with my summer vacation and hey let’s admit it, it sounds awesome to say you’re in a movie! As days went by the movie came quick upon us. True to character I was hesitant about the whole thing the day before and even contemplated quitting. It was overwhelming to think about at first. The shoot was for 2 days in a row, wearing not the most comfortable clothes in a 12 hour day. Not to mention we had to wake up at 4am both days and stay outside in the sun all day. Who can blame me for wanting out at first? True to Kathryn’s character she talked me out of my state of doubt.

It’s the first day and let me just say I was tired and nervous the entire day! I think one word that properly sums up the whole day’s work is exhausting, mentally and physically. The life of an extra is very testing on limits. From what I could tell, most people there were professional extras in the hopes of becoming professional actors. The funny thing is, I had a hard time talking to most people being that most of which were talking about their careers and the future of their careers. It was all about who you know and what you’ve done. Of all the actors it was hard to find a genuine personality. I couldn’t help but feel incredibly inconsequential in comparison. Here I was doing this just for fun, while others were treating this as their pilgrimage to super stardom. Many of the extras were my own age but I also noticed many in their middle ages and older. At one point the young and the not so young were aligned next to each other on our way to the set. I wondered, were most of the older actors just starting out their careers, or had they once started as young extras and just never made it far in the industry? I know it’s definitely the first one, yet it is something to think about.

There were a few interesting characters that we met along the way. Some were very cool and had genuinely good personalities, while others were just kind of…..crazy. Although who am I to judge whether or not someone is crazy? This one person we met, who shall remain nameless, was a little unbearable. She started talking to us….and talked to us…. and talked…. and talked…. and talked until she could see that we couldn’t handle it anymore. This person said she was home schooled, yet she was a social butterfly. Was it irony or just nerves? I literally learned her whole life story that day. The next day was even more ironic. It turned out a girl in our group was staying with that other girl I just mentioned at a motel in New Jersey. This girl was more competetive and insanely direct. She even told my friend Kathryn that Kathryn reminded her of the girl she was staying with. I then learned that it wasn’t irony, it was just funny. Other hardships included the greuling sun that caused my face and neck to be harshly sunburnt. Along with that the food that was served was horrid. My friends usually eat whatever is given to them, but this time they didn’t even touch their food. I know the food is meant to feed the masses, but was it for animal or human masses?

On the bright side of the two days, in a scene where I got to walk across the camera me and the leading lady accidentally bumped into each other and she said sorry to me! Everyone saw it and we had to re-do the scene but hey it was awesome for me! In most of the scenes where I wasn’t used I took the time to really look at the things that go on in movie sets. I wondered just how different was the production of a movie from real life? What I realized is that they are totally different. In real life, if you “f&*@ up” there’s no re-do’s, second takes, or taking back. When making a movie, everything is set to go the way you want it. In life, things are left more up to fate and chance. In movies it’s up to the director. Life isn’t as prepared for you as it is on the set of a movie. That’s why we have friends and family to help us along the way. I’ll say it was a memorable experience but I don’t know if I’d ever do it again. Especially being that we were paid below minimum wage, yet the experience was worth it.

——Luke Widlund

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