The crowd wasn't as large as I had anticipated at the local high school and I was in and out in just over an hour, talking briefly with the casting director and leaving my name, phone number, brief resume (including anything we felt could be used as a prop for the movie) and the all important head shot. Pretty fun, never going to get a call, but still an interesting way to spend a morning.
Then on September 28th, I did receive a call to see if I'd like to be an extra on September 29th. Would I ever!! I grabbed my friend "C" and off we went, tearing up the blacktop on 95!
The next day was nothing like I expected. I had to report to a local church at 10:00 am with my car and three changes of clothes. We were instructed to bring dowdy clothing, nothing urban, black, designer or fancy. They specifically asked all of us if we had any "mom" jeans. Well, I'm a mom and I definitely own jeans, but "mom" jeans? Who would admit to even owning MOM jeans, no matter what your age or your size? So I put on a pair of khakis, a blue button down shirt and sneakers and off I went, in my VW, toting another two changes of clean, ironed clothes.
When it was my turn, the wardrobe person turned her nose up at everything I had brought with me, stating that I looked "too preppy", normally not a bad thing, right? But for this movie they wanted us to look like we just came in from plowing the back forty and didn't have a sense of style even in our off time. All right, fine with me, as the woman hunted around and found a very used man's fishing vest and a dirty, faded plaid flannel shirt for me to use. Interesting that they held my time card for ransom until the end of the day when I could have it back when I returned the clothing. Yeesh, I couldn't WAIT to give the stuff back!
Okay, I thought, we're on our way! My clothes were approved and I was ready to get to work. HA! If I only knew. I was still sitting and talking to the people around me when the 11 am people came in. I wandered over to the snack table and was very curious because we've all heard about the "kraft food service" for movie crews. Another big HA! There was one folding table with a couple of boxes of Entenmann's donuts, snack size bags of chips and Cheetos, a few pieces of fruit and bottles of water. Stacked next to the bottles of water were two large jugs and I figured they would be filled with juice or coffee, but nope, just more water.
Noon seemed to be the last check in time for extras and no one had been asked to leave the room to go anywhere yet, so we still just sat. Just as the crew cracked open a jar of peanut butter and jelly and some standard supermarket white bread, the 9:00 am people were asked to stand up and about a dozen were chosen for a scene. Almost forgot, SAG members first. SAG being Screen Actors Guild Members, the rest of us were referred to as non-SAG. Surprisingly, a lot of the extras in the room were SAG and had done this before. I have to admit that I can't imagine why. Sitting in that church basement in ratty clothing, no air conditioning on a toasty day, with body heat building up, it felt more and more like being called for jury duty or sitting in a large hospital emergency room waiting area. That same feeling of ennui, boredom and restless leg syndrome was setting in for everyone.
Around about 2:30 pm, we were all told that they weren't choosing anyone else and that we could leave as soon as we returned any borrowed clothing and handed in our time cards. And that was it. Even though I never got close to a movie star or camera, I could actually say I worked a day as a movie extra.
Some of the seasoned SAG members were grumbling that they were letting us go just before the time that they would legally be required to feed us a proper meal, but I thought it was all good, and I was happy to go off with my friend for a late lunch.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, my friend "C" not only got to watch a scene being filmed, but also got to see Tommy Lee Jones up close, just a few feet away. RATS! When I received a phone call the next day to be an extra, I just ignored it and my friend and I went to T.J. Maxx. I received another call to be in a "featured scene", whatever that is, but I called back too late and was told that they were all filled up.
All in all it was interesting, even if it was boring. The only complaint I have has to do with the paycheck I received for my day of work in late October. They added in all of the extras just like they had explained, but along with the regular deductions, they also withheld money for something called "medicare". Now I don't know if this was because I was paid SAG rates, but I sure hope they don't think I'm old enough to be eligible for MEDICARE yet! I wonder where in the ozone that little deduction went?
I'm looking forward to seeing the movie when it's released late in 2012. It will be fun to see how our little town was transformed into a small town in Maine. I had GREAT HOPES about being a movie extra, and while it was interesting, I can definitely cross that one off my bucket list!