I spent a day this week working as an extra on a film being shot here in St. Louis. It was fun for awhile but got old after 8 or 9 hours. The movie actually takes place in Minneapolis in the Fall so I had to wear a denim shirt and a sweater. The scene we did was shot in an empty building downtown that didn't have air conditioning. They had big tubes pumping cool air into the building but it didn't help all that much.
The set was right across the street from Jen's office. She said everyone at her office was freaking out and calling her in NY because they knew I was in there and wanted to know what was going on.
I also ended up doing a bunch of stand in work. I stood in for 2 different actors while they set up the camera shots and lights. That was not easy. Standing under hot lights for long periods of time in a sweater. We worked from 6:30am until 7:30pm and only got 3 shots with different angles of each shot.
Aaron Eckhart plays the lead character and was there for all of the shots that day. His character is troubled by his deteriorating personal and professional life and I think he tried to stay in character all day. He seemed annoyed and angry, but I am going to reserve judgement on whether he is a jerk or not. He did yell at one of the extras during a scene for making too much noise and distracting him, but the extra was a pompous ass so I was cool with it.
There are a couple of kids in the movie that are on tv shows I've never seen like Jack and Bobby. The guy I did the stand in work for was in High Fidelity. He played one of the record store clerks, Barry, along with John Cusack and Jack Black. Jessica Alba is in the movie but had completed her scenes by the time I was working on it. Jason Sudeikis and Kristin Wiig from Saturday Night Live are also attached to the film but, again, weren't in any of the scenes I worked on. Timothy Olyphant from Go and Deadwood is in the film. He plays a news anchor named Chip Johnson and they actually erected a billboard of him on highway 270. Wish I would have gotten a picture of that.
I spent most of the day standing in line at a bank. The wardrobe lady said I'd be the "cool guy" so the prop guys gave me a video ipod to wear while standing in line. Unfortunately it didn't actually have anything on it. We came up with a funny back story about how I was the assistant manager at a night club and my boss was a drug addict so I have to do all of the work and that's why I kept going to the bank to make deposits. I stood in the same line for scenes that were supposed to take place at different times of day. You come up with anything to pass the time.
While on set you have a lot of time to think about what you are doing since there are so many takes. On the first take you shift from foot to foot like you are impatient with how slow the line is going. The second take you shift from foot to foot and look at your watch. The third take you shift from foot to foot, look at your watch and sigh real hard. If there are 5 takes then by the last one you look like a neurotic freak with a bunch of tics.
Not surprisingly Ricky Gervais hit the nail on the head with his HBO show Extra's. It's totally like that. You keep trying to find ways to get in the shot. Just so you can prove that you were on the set. Then the rest of the time you spend sitting around talking about stupid things. It was a fun change of pace and a good experience. I made $100. Woohoo. I don't think I'd be doing it again real soon though. Maybe if Jessica Alba were in any of my scenes I would have had a more enjoyable time?