An 'Exclusive' Experience

Diary of a Movie Extra

Circa noon: Lunchtime. We have a whole hour to recover from our grueling sessions of chilling around the pool. I have a nice big turkey sandwich, a bottle of water, a bunch of carrot sticks and some M&Ms. We chat with the mother of one of the child actresses. The girl’s resume is already impressive: professional plays, competitions, sometimes beating out 300 other girls for three spots. Now her mother is considering hiring an agent for other movie and commercial opportunities. I feel as though I have done very little with my 20 years of life. Scott, the director, comes up in conversation. He directed Jane Eyre on Broadway, which was nominated for several Tony Awards, and he is currently directing two off-Broadway shows which are highly praised. This is his first film project. We are lucky to be working with such a talented and up-and-coming director.

1:02 PM: We are positioned for the next scene, and the air has warmed up considerably. To have a different appearance, I change my bathing suit and go bare-chested. I suddenly regret not having done 500 sit-ups a day for the past six months. Again, I am reading my book, this time in the hot sun on the opposite side of the pool.

1:34 PM: Since I only got four hours of sleep, I am quite tired. Lying in the afternoon sun creates a real struggle for me to stay awake. I relax my eyes in between takes, but luckily I maintain consciousness. At least I am getting a last little bit of sun before the long New England fall and winter set in.

2:09 PM: It dawns on me that I should perhaps be insulted that I have the right look to be a preppy anti-Semitic country club member…

2:45 PM: Another break. I drink a Coke solely for the caffeine burst. In the next scene I am a golfer walking in the background behind the central actors. I put on my khakis and polo shirt. Luckily, I have some caddying experience so I can carry a golf bag and look like I know what I’m doing.


3:05 PM: We begin shooting the next scene. I remember how golf bags are extremely heavy.

3:23 PM: My shoulder begins to get a little sore from all the walking back and forth with the golf bag.

3:40 PM: My right shoulder is killing me; I am forced to put the bag down between takes.

3:45 PM: I am told that the golfer is being cut from the scene. My four minutes of fame are down to two. Oh well. I sit in the shade to watch the scene with a cup of water.

3:54 PM: Suddenly, some of the crew are calling for the golfer again. I scramble to get the bag again, tripping over a lounge chair in the process. I am back in the scene, though a little more in the background this time.

4:30 PM: The crew is still filming the same scene, but now close up on the actresses. I get to relax and go sit down. I hit the Skittles on the food table, which melt in my hand and leave a sticky rainbow.

4:57 PM: Sarah thanks all the extras for our work. They are planning on filming a bit more but they have finished with the scenes requiring extras for the day. I thank her and Daren for this cool opportunity and leave, ending my brief brush with fame.

Spending the day around a pool is not such a bad use of a Sunday. I have a newfound respect for the complexities of making the films which we enjoy. For just a few minutes of mindlessly watched footage, countless hours of preparation, shooting and editing are required. Most audience members associate movies with Hollywood glamour and red carpet awards shows, but those who work on films still have to do a lot of very unglamorous work before a project is complete.

I’m told that Exclusive will be available on the Internet once editing is completed in a month or two. It will be cool to see the completed product of everything I experienced this past Sunday. Look for me, I’ll be the “Man by pool” or the “Man carrying golf clubs.” But I’ll still have my four minutes of fame…