15 Seconds of Fame - My Day as a Hollywood Extra

It's all the buzz in Durham. Colin Firth, Orlando Bloom, Patricia Clarkson, Andrew McCarthy and Amber Tamblyn are all in town to film "Main St." The film is set in Durham and is being filmed here in the Bull City, too. How authentic! That means all over town you have no idea who you will run into or what may be going on. My co-workers and I have been able to watch a few scenes being shot from our conference rooms overlooking downtown.

Due to my excitement and mini-stalking of Colin Firth, a co-worker put an article from The Herald Sun onto my desk chair one morning. The article stated that more extras were needed and to be considered you just had to e-mail in a photo. I laughed at first then thought, "What the hell?" And I did. Less than two hours later I had an e-mail back from the casting director asking if I would be available the next day. Thanks to an awesome boss, I replied back that YES I was available. She asked if I would be interested in playing a waitress. WOO HOO. I was told to be at the cast parking lot with a selection of clothing items at 7am to be transported to the set. SWEEEEET.

On Wednesday morning, I arrived in the crew parking lot and was quickly whisked away in a van with a few members of the crew and some more extras. As we headed onto 147 and exited at Broad Street, the other extras and I tried to figure out where we were going. We were headed to none other than The Magnolia Grill. AWESOME. Once we were out of the van, I was brought into hair/make-up. That was fun :-) I had my hair curled and pulled back a bit. My makeup was fine, so they left that as is. Wardrobe didn't like the white shirt I had, so they sent me off and told me they would bring me an outfit soon. I was eventually put into an offwhite dress shirt, a tie and an apron.

We eventually had an extras tent put up for us in the parking lot behind Magnolia. That's when the waiting started. Waiting waiting waiting. Eventually a gentleman and myself were asked to go inside for staging. One of the assistant directors told me what to do - walk around behind the bar (I ended up playing a bartender rather than a waitress), polish some glasses, shuffle some papers, move some bottles, pretend cut some lemons, etc. We did that for about half an hour then were told to just sit on the side. More waiting waiting waiting. Eventually we were asked to go back outside as they needed every bit of space as possible for lighting and cameras. More waiting waiting waiting. Eventually, the 6 or 7 other extras were whisked away in a van while my counterpart and I were asked to stay at Magnolia. Eventually we were brought back in to shoot the scene. Because all background movement needs to be done with no sound, I offered to kick off my shoes so they didn't have to pad the hardwood floor behind the bar. I "bartended" at the Magnolia in my bare feet - don't get to do that every day!! The scene was one between Andrew McCarthy and Amber Tamblyn. My big role was to walk in on cue, chat with the gentleman at the bar, then..........(here's my big scene)......Andrew McCarthy looks at the bar and says, "Scotch and Soda"....I nod my head in acknowledgement and walk to the other end of the bar to pretend make the drink. WOO HOO. My 5 seconds of fame. We did the scene a few times for rehearsal then it was taped a couple of times. It was super fun :-)

Me in my Magnolia Grill bartender costume - I took the photo with my cell phone in the cast van on the way back to base camp. It's the only photo I took all day! I looked much cuter from a regular angle :p

After that we were taken back to the base camp where we had lunch. That was rather tasty. After lunch, I thought I may be wrapped for the day, but was asked if I could stay. I changed into some khakis and a polo shirt for an office scene. We were taken over to City Hall and eventually placed all throughout the lobby to walk this way and that way and create a general busy office scene. My big moment in that is walking down the ramp of city hall while Amber Tamblyn comes down the stairs. Yet another 5 seconds of fame :-)

After that scene wrapped, we ended up sitting around for quite sometime. Long enough for me to almost read The Reader in its entirety. Around 6:15pm, a van picked us all up to take us back to our cars. It was a long day, but a fun one. I met a lot of very nice people - from the makeup and wardrobe folks to the crew and all the extras. While I didn't talk to any of the stars, they seemed like pretty nice folks. All in all it was a good time.

The strange part of the experience was just the "hollywood" of the whole thing. I have heard people say that movie making is in no way glamorous. And that seems to be the truth. It's time consuming and tedious - every sound, every move, every beam of light is carefully placed and controlled. It takes people with amazing patience to make these films. It was crazy to see how much prep time and team coordination went into shooting a scene that probably lasted about 1-2 minutes.

It was also somewhat strange to interact with so many people who wanted to be movie stars. In my group of extras, I was one of only a handful of people that did not have an agent. Several of the people I worked with yesterday routinely take extra roles and audition for parts on TV shows and commercials. Several people were amazed that I was just doing this for fun. I've never had the drama bug, so it had just never occured to me that people did this a lot. But as we all have dreams, many people's dreams involve movies and acting! It's just a scene I am not so familiar with! Overall the day was great. New experiences, new people and even some learning. I just may do it again someday!!!!!

1 comment:

Marissa said...

That's awesome! I'll be sure to watch the movie just to see you.......and Colin Firth of course.