Wednesday, November 16, 2011

3 or 6 Ways to Recognize Me on the Silver Screen

I might have been in a movie on Saturday.

Last week my boss forwarded an email looking for volunteers to drive 60 miles and sit in the wind for free to be extras in an independent film. My other options for Saturday all involved responsibilities or personal betterment, so I immediately RSVPed to the casting company.

We played the audience at a horseshoe tournament, which is 90% of what I know about the movie. There’s also a guy who is planning to jump off of a bridge, and (SPOILER ALERT) one of the horseshoe players has a little dog with a vest on.

It’s difficult to tell where the camera was pointed or which footage will be used, so I’m providing this useful guide to help you look for me in the finished work.

Girl Who Is Really, Really Into Horseshoes
The extras’ main job was to cheer wholeheartedly for the horseshoe game, which was apparently the most exciting thing to happen in the known history of this little town. We clapped, we whistled, we stood up, and one little girl kept shouting, “Is it okay to talk yet?”

Pretend enthusiastic clapping is considerably more tiring than real enthusiastic clapping, since you don’t have the actual excitement to lend you strength. As a result, we may be the only group of people in history who can honestly say, “Watching that game of horseshoes wore me out!

Of course, we weren’t actually watching a game. We reacted to a professional horseshoe thrower hitting all the ringers, and then to the actors throwing shoes wherever they happened to land. Thanks to the confusion, I didn’t know who won the tournament until just after I finished applauding for it, setting me up for a long-running role as Girl Who Has Been Cheering for the Wrong Side.

Girl Who Just Stole That Frozen Hamburger
This film didn’t have a lot of spare money lying around. As a result, all of the extras were paid in sack lunches and the possibility of a half-second of screen time. We did get some exciting perks, though, including food props that we were allowed to nibble on for increased realism.

Crew members started salting the crowd with hamburgers and sides at 9 a.m. I was not among the chosen, which was fine because Breakfast Coleslaw is not an accustomed feature of my morning routine. By about 11:00, though, the abandoned plates littering the bleachers started to look pretty enticing. I finally located a burger with no obvious bite marks and did my part for authenticity.

Fifty-degree temperatures and several hours of wind do no favors for bottom-shelf meat products.

On the upside, outdoors was even safer for food storage than a refrigerator. Also, the experience prepared me for another role, later in the day, as Girl Who Really Appreciated That Free Turkey Sandwich.

Girl Who Is In Six Places Causing Continuity Problems
The scene needed about 200 extras, and 70 showed up. We started the morning with the instruction, “Remember this seat because it’s your spot for the whole day.” After half an hour, it changed to, “Try to take up a lot of space.” Finally, the crew gave up and started moving groups of us to whichever area of bleachers was in camera range at the time.

This approach means that every shot of the crowd includes the same people in a slightly different arrangement. I’m particularly looking forward to the sequence in which I am standing behind the two championship horseshoe throwers and simultaneously looking on from the bleachers 30 feet away. If the editors cut back and forth between those two shots, I’m planning to start internet rumors about a cloning conspiracy plotline abandoned in the final version.

Then again, they may cut me out entirely thanks to my brief cameo as Girl Who Totally Looked at the Camera Just Then.

Anyway, if you have a chance to see a film called Stars with a horseshoe-related subplot, keep an eye out for me. I’ll be the one clapping, gnawing, teleporting, and otherwise lurking around looking like this:

Also, don’t forget to prepare your glowing compliments for my inevitable IMDB page. I’m currently seeking copious uses of the words “witty” and “brilliant.”


  1. At least you're not the girl who kicked the hornet's nest or whatever. :)

  2. I see a shrike bag!! Please tell me it will also be an extra in the movie!

  3. Sarah, I brought the shrike bag to the set on purpose so that it could be in the movie. It got its own seat during the times when we were supposed to spread out and look bigger. Chances are good it will get more screen time than I do--that shrike never once looked at the camera.