Week 3: Onset as an Extra for a Commercial.
"I never said all actors are cattle, what I said was all actors should be treated like cattle" - Alfred Hitchcock
What did I do:
Harsh words from the great Alfred Hitchcock. Although, I don't think the sentiment is shared by many. The illustrious entertainment industry is glamorous, lucrative, and a whole lot of fun. Who wouldn't want to be a part of it? But wait! It's extremely competitive, volatile, and shines a light on your deepest insecurities. You may be a star on a successful sitcom one year and later struggle to make ends meet.
Living in Hollywood, I couldn't pass on the opportunity to jump in and see what it's all about. This week, I took on an unpaid role as an extra in a commercial for The Original Wine of the Month Club. My friend, who owns Embold Media (production company responsible for the shoot), said "just come dressed for a dinner party." Easy enough!
Who was with me:
To my surprise, it took a village to shoot a 1 minute commercial, somewhere around 25 people. From talent, to grip, to the above the line team (producers, directors, cinematographers), and of course don’t forget the extras. We had a lot of fun cause many of the extras were actually our friends.
What did I learn:
For starters, extras aren’t treated very nicely. Almost as if we are not human. But that didn’t stop me from being myself on set. I used my humor and charm to break down the tough exterior personality of the first AD and eventually had him calling me by my first name instead of “hey you.” I also learned a lot about how a scene is shot, all the different players behind the camera, and how directors coach the actors.
Would I do this again:
I would be happy to play an extra in a movie, TV show, or commercial again as long as I am friends with the people in charge. That way I get the special pass. Otherwise, no thanks.