Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Quiet on Set - The Life of a Television Extra

Has it already been over two weeks since my last post?!?! It's amazing how fast the days go by even if you don't have a full time job! I've been working on several different projects lately, so it's time to bring you up to date on my latest & greatest adventures (even if they occur less than five miles from my residence).
there haven't been many sunny days lately so I don't hesitate to bring out the camera when there's a break in the clouds
Rolling... Speed... Background... Action... Cut... Back to One... That's a Wrap!
Greg & I have been working as extras on Grimm an average of one day per week. As I wrote about in previous posts, I was cast as a restaurant patron for episode 117 (which hasn't aired yet). Then we both worked as street background as well as joggers for two scenes of episode 118. We were also cast as non-descript street background for episode 119, but never had the opportunity to get in front of the camera. This week we were cast as cops for episode 120, and for the first time got to work on the permanent "precinct" set. Next week we will be working as Crime Scene Investigators.
don't mess with us! (episode 120)
There is nothing glamorous about being an extra. We make minimum wage, which is $8.80 per hour in Oregon. We provide our own transportation to & from the set and usually wear our own clothes. We often have early call times (meaning when we have to arrive on set) and long days (12+ hours is not unusual). We have minimal interaction with the stars of the show, although there are many times that I've been standing a few feet from them for several minutes. We do a lot of sitting around & waiting, although we're allowed to bring books, computers, etc. to keep us busy as long as we don't take photos of the set or reveal plot details. We have to be quiet while they're filming, so we really don't get to socialize too much with the other extras.
Greg gets makeup applied in the Grimm holding area for episode 119
On the positive side, I'm learning a lot about how much work goes into making one 45-minute TV episode. I like to watch the directors and camera crew as they coordinate different shots & camera angles for each scene. And I love how the "First Team" (principal actors) gets called to the set only when they're ready to film (there are stand-ins marking their places the rest of the time). If we're on set long enough, we get fed a wonderful, freshly-prepared, buffet meal (care of Frenchy's Catering) that eliminates the need to eat again for the rest of the day. In the meantime, we get unlimited less-than-healthy snacks to munch on!
this is our reward after a long day on set
Since my last post, I also had the opportunity to work as an extra on TNT's Leverage. I was cast in a specific role (as a reporter) and thus was only on set for about an hour, although I "worked" for about four hours. My understanding is that Leverage pays a minimum of eight hours per shift so I think it's a win-win, plus I'm pretty sure you'll be able to spot me in Season 5, Episode 1 pretty easily.
my TV reporter outfit - although I ended up wearing a black trench coat on camera!
All of this time on TV sets prompted me to research other local opportunities in this line of work. Not that I ever expect, or even desire, to be a movie star! But I was curious as to what I might have to do to get a speaking role on one of these shows, or even to get cast for commercials. My research led me to PIMA Management (acronym for Pro-Image Model Actor). They are relatively new in Portland, and the biggest differentiation from other agencies is that they don't require a contract nor charge exorbitant fees.
a fun headshot from 2003
I met with PIMA staff for the first time last Tuesday (13MAR) and immediately booked a photo shoot with Patrick Smith for Saturday. I originally had headshots done in New York City in 2003 and since you pretty much have to have current headshots and a talent resume if you want to audition for speaking parts, then I knew this was the first step in the process. After the photo shoot, I attended a two hour modeling workshop followed by a two hour acting workshop in PIMA's studio. I learned how to walk a catwalk properly, practiced diction, and performed original, impromptu skits. I left the studio feeling confident in my abilities and eager to take the next steps to prepare for an audition.
I returned to the PIMA office today to pick up the DVD of my photos and talk about what happens next. While my photos certainly weren't bad, I could use some more practice in front of a camera! I've already been working on my talent resume, which lists all of my skills, education, & training that are relevant to this line of work. In the next 24 hours, my profile should be "live" on PIMA's website as well as another casting site, and hopefully I can start auditioning sometime next week.
one of my "athletic" shots

1 comment:

  1. Too cool, even if it is a lot of standing around twiddling your thumbs!