Dig Baton Rouge

Extra! Extra!

By Tara Bennett

I vividly remember the heat as I waited for the bus to pick us up, and how I teased the officer standing there in front of me by asking him what life was like on the outside. Once I finally left the gate, I called out to my friend Chelsea that I would wait for her. I made a joking remark as I left to the guide about whether or not I could make it, but I was comforted by the response from him that it was paradise on the other end.

No, I wasn’t recently released from prison. I was an extra on the set for “Pitch Perfect 2,” and thus began my journey to extras holding, where I was given the blessed relief of water and free Domino’s and Raising Cane’s chicken fingers. I was so relieved to be free from standing in the heat that I even chuckled at the groan-inducing comedian Chris Trew who was tasked with keeping us entertained until we were called to be on set. Imagine a guy who sounds like Olaf from “Frozen” challenging a guy to an arm wrestling fight and you’ll have just a hint of what I experienced.

Due to a binding contract, I’m not allowed to give away what I’ve seen filmed for the movie, but I can tell you this: The director Elizabeth Banks (who wore a fetching updo that would make Effie Trinket proud) knows what she’s doing, and the movie is going to be phenomenal when it comes out on May 15, 2015. With films such as PP2, Jurassic World and the new Fantastic Four currently in production in Louisiana, it stands to reason that film culture has become commonplace. The film industry has created fantastic opportunities for locals to earn extra money while being within 15 feet of one of their favorite celebrities, but for first timers they may not know what to expect on set. To help make sure you have a well-rounded experience and put yourself in a position for future extra work, here are my top “Do’s” and “Don’ts” while on set.

Do…

1. Be respectful. The film industry is a business and while they will take good care of you, they do not have to cater to you. You should always be respectful and listen to anyone who may be over you or equal to you.

2. Follow instructions. Time is money, especially when it comes to filming a movie. Directors give out instructions with great purpose to achieve their vision. If someone has a hard time following instructions, then the process is slowed down. Always pay attention, take direction, and listen to what the casting office tells you, especially in regards to what to wear. Don’t be surprised if you don’t make it into the film when you were asked to refrain from wearing logos and you came sporting your university T-shirt.

3. Show up early. It will give you time to prepare, and looks good on you as someone who takes their work seriously. It will also help you in the long run in case of traffic and the time it may take to find out where you need to be.

4. Bring something quiet to do. Time as an extra includes a lot of waiting. In order to help pass the time, you should bring a book to read or a crossword puzzle. Just make sure that whatever you bring doesn’t keep you from hearing when the director calls for you.

5. Stay cool and hydrated. If you’re working on a summer shoot, this is especially essential. While the crew will do all that they can to ensure your health and safety, you also need to be responsible for yourself by drinking lots of water and keeping a small portable fan on hand. The last thing you want is heat exhaustion.

Don’t…

1. Don’t be impatient. You will have to wait while they set up for their next shots. They will also make you wait while they figure out which of you will go first on background. And you will also have to wait while they take scene after scene of the principle characters. Don’t bother making a fuss about how long you’ve been waiting.

2. Don’t disturb the talent. If your project has high end Hollywood actors, be respectful and leave them alone. They’re there to work, and shouldn’t be harassed. However, should an actor approach you, feel free to engage in small talk just like you would a regular person.

3. Don’t look directly at the camera. Have you ever watched a movie and noticed someone suddenly looked straight at the camera for a moment? It looks weird, right? Looking at the camera breaks the fourth wall and takes away from the realism. So remind yourself to ignore that camera. Most directors will stop and do the scene over again because it just doesn’t look right.

4. Don’t be loud or flashy. Unnecessary noise can require a scene to be redone, which costs a lot of time and money. This is another lightening-fast way to get fired. You’ll be given simple instructions such as walking, standing or sitting. Just follow the directions and you’ll do a great job.

5. Don’t take pictures. Especially if you signed a contract. If you get caught taking pictures, you’ll quickly find out how replaceable you are.

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