I am fortunate enough to have some seriously cool friends who scored the jobs of casting extras for CBGB: The Movie, which was filmed in Savannah, GA. Given the locale, and the fact that they are SCAD alumni, they treated their own very well by pulling extras and stand-ins from fellow SCAD-illites. Just goes to show you that knowing people/networking/keeping in touch is important!
This was my first time as an extra (or I think the friendly term is "background artist", but really, is anyone actually offended by "extra?"), and I can't talk about what I saw or heard on the set that pertains specifically to the film and for obvious reasons. Nobody likes a spoiler, especially not the people who worked so hard to create the film! What I can talk about is what it was like to be an extra. And I think it's ok to tell you that I watched Alan Rickman pick a wedgie.
First of all, when you submit your headshot and resume for extra work, you will probably hear nothing. That is, until the night before they want you to be on set. Which can be a problem if you don't live in the area where they are filming or if, you know, you have that pesky thing called a job. Maybe because I knew the people casting extras, or maybe this would work out otherwise, I was able to ask them if they could use my boyfriend and myself for a couple days the next week. Turns out, 1970's punks were in high demand.
So, off we went! We threw all of our potentially 70's-looking clothing in a bag, borrowed a decently-running car, and took off to sweltering Savannah, where we crashed with my college roommate. The casting people called us again the night before to confirm our call time and give us details about not wearing make-up, wearing our best ideas for costumes to the set, etc. They also sent us directions to the studio via email the night before. If I remember correctly, our call time was approximately the butt crack of dawn.
Our time there went something like this: We arrived and were directed to the "extras holding area," where all the lovely background artists check in, change, eat, and sit around and wait. Ours was the big craft services tent outside in the mid-July Savannah heat. We filled out tax forms and stood in line to get costumes. A lot of people didn't bring anything, but it will make the process go much faster for you and everyone else if you follow directions, which in our case was to bring options and wear what we thought best suited the description we were given. Both Chris and I were approved for costumes while we were still in line and didn't need to get fitted. Hair and makeup also gets checked. Tweaking happens. Some of the guys were given really terrible wigs. I was airbrushed (butt-crack of dawn... dark circles happen). This is all a little crazy and there's people everywhere and everyone kind of just wants to see Alan Rickman. And when he comes to get his breakfast, you realize he has pajamas and bed head, just like everyone else.
And then you wait.
They're not going to tell the extras much about what is going on or when they will be needed, so we just sort of hung out. There were a lot of different kinds of people working as extras. Most of us were pretty young. Some were very awesome and I have kept in touch with them since. One guy was the most obnoxious person I have ever come across in my life.
Eventually, they will call some or all of the extras in. We were in a lot of large group scenes and I walked by a window with a partner to give the idea of people walking by on the street. The extras will be given directions and, once again, it just makes everything easier if they're followed. "Don't talk" kind of means "don't talk." They will pull you out of the scene and that's just no fun.
At one point, a terrific summer storm as only Savannah knows how to host blew through and the set was almost completely shut down to keep from attracting a lightning strike to the huge energy pull. There was a good deal of standing around in the dark, being very quiet. It also flooded the inside of the tent that served as the holding area. Very unpleasant for the poor people who left their belongings on the ground!
Honestly, that's really kind of it. Chris and I had a blast and from what I understood from my fellow background actors, this film was particularly good to its extras. We were fed and paid well for our time (this was a 75/8 contract, which is typical for extra work, meaning that you earn $75 for 8 hours on set). Extras brought in on our second day were there were given priority because we had traveled. We got to be around super famous people, which becomes strangely comfortable. I learned a lot about the on-goings on set and how the actors work. (For that reason, I think it's a good experience for actors to have. Take the opportunity to learn!) I got to reconnect with some people from college. And Chris and I got to go to the beach when we were done each day.
|Ahh... Tybee Island. You are so good.|