I was in a movie set of a 7 and a half minute film yesterday.
A couple weeks back, my Twitter friend @kudzumon mentioned someone was looking for extras for a movie in Vancouver. I thought it could be fun so I signed up. It ended up being a movie call Fade Out. Now, as I didn't check the thing they asked me to sign before going on set (for all I know I could be married to an Arabic guy right now and he's expecting 6 children from me in the next 5 years), I am worried I shouldn't be telling too much about the plot. That said, I guess I can share parts of my experience without revealing too much.
The first thing I learned on set was continuity. As movies often need multiple takes, it's very easy for the backgrounds to not reset to where it was before. I learned this in a painful way. As I foolishly picked up a piece of hors d'oeuvre on the very first take, I was told by my fellow extras, whom are mostly very enthusiastic young people in film schools by the way, that I should continue holding that piece of hors d'oeuvre until the end of the scene. We ended up retaking that scene for almost 4 hours and I got indents on my fingers from holding it for so long. As our job was to mingle and to occasionally make movements, we ended up chatting and gave this piece of hors d'oeuvre a name, Krusty (as it looks like a clown), and the highly energetic extra supervisor drew a face on the "nose" of Krusty. The above photo shows how to hold Krusty properly on set for 4 hours. My peers called it "the pinch".
I also get to do a scene where we were sitting inside a theatre. Surprisingly, they had me sitting right next to an important actor of the movie. I had a good chuckle when he fell asleep, for real, during some quiet part (he only had 2 hours of sleep apparently from travelling). I promised him I'll nudge him when they start rolling. I had about 5 seconds of acting in this scene, involving me giving eye signal with that guy. It was interesting as he didn't communicate with me before hand, but I caught on what he was trying to do so I gave my honest reaction to his signal. That was the moment I felt like "acting" the first time.
The final scene, which took place after dark, was an outdoor scene, in which I played a different character; hence I was in civilian clothing.
This was a more casual scene but as it was -3 °C last night, it was very cold for us all even with winter clothes. Gladly, we played fans getting very hyped up on the red carpet, so we get to make a lot of movements to keep us warm. I actually get to interact with the lead actress a little bit in this scene because I was at the front. When we finish the shoot, the director thanked me for my energy and said "it was amazing to see you work". She was very sincere and I was a bit flattered, consider I really don't know what I was doing, it can hardly call "work".
Overall, yesterday experience was a great one. Although I have to say, I've passed the age of finding being extra to be a "fun" activity. Yes, it was something interesting to do, but giving up 12 hours of your day mostly just waiting around for things to happen is okay for someone in their 20's, not when you have a full time job during the week. Especially when you are not planning to be in the industry. That said, I didn't regret of doing it at all, as a matter of fact, I learned a lot from observing and grew tremendous amount of respect for, not just the actors but, the crew who put these movies together. The professionalism they showed me and the quick reaction to fix things on the spot was truly amazing to watch, something I can relate to as my strength is event execution. I also get to work with bunch of younger people and when were were shooting the scene on the red carpet, we often had to create a walk way for real pedestrians, in which I coined the term "Red Sea". So every time when we have to part, I yelled "RED SEA PEOPLE!" and everyone knew what to do. The crew found it funny and I overheard someone said "we finally have a term for that!" which made me smiled. And of course, we had someone being our Moses.
Someone said the movie was suppose to be an entry to the Vancouver Film Festival, so hopefully I'll get to watch the final product of yesterday. Maybe I'll find myself in the movie if they don't cut out the scenes!
#35/365 – Extra