Monday, July 23, 2007

On Being an Extra Extra. . . .

I was looking forward to today! I was booked to work as an extra (more properly called background talent) for the TV series Boston Legal which began shooting the new season's episodes about 2 weeks ago. And I was booked to work in the "law offices" rather than the "courtroom" which suited me just fine. There are fewer actors in the offices and they can work all season. Courtroom spectators, reporters, etc. can work one trial and then have to wait a month or two before they can work again.

And I really enjoy working Boston Legal. . .for a couple of reasons. As I found last season, it is simply a fun set to work on, even if you are a lowly extra. And, what is even more important for me, they shoot at Raleigh Studios in Manhattan Beach, which is an easy 12.5 mile drive for me (all on surface streets).

So, I arrived at 10:00 a.m., a very civilized call time. Courtroom personnel had been there since 6:30 or 7:00 a.m. and were finished by 11:00 a.m. There seemed to be a rather slow pace to the startup of the season's shoots. Well, the 9 of us called to work in the law offices sat around for 2 hours before we were called to the set. Then 7 of us were placed in the scene being shot. I was told to wait in the set's conference room along with one other extra. At 1:00 p.m., shooting paused and we were given an hour for lunch. We returned at 2:00 and were called back to the set at 2:30 where the same 7 extras completed the scene and the other 2 of us sat. At 3:00 p.m., the scene completed, we were sent back to "holding," where we sat and socialized until they released us for the day at 4:15 p.m. Getting done that early was unusual. And for me, not getting to participate at all in the shoot was a first.

Oh well, I now know what it is to be an extra Extra. But I'll be back on the set when they give me the next opportunity. The pay is lousy if you're not yet in the union but it is generally a lot of fun. And it also let's me get caught up on my reading which had been put aside during rehearsals for this summer's CCPT plays.


Eric Valentine said...

Wow! Let me tell you, I would be over the moon at such a thing as that extra. Congratulations on your selection and good luck for the future runs.

I remember years ago being used to demonstrate a product on a TV show. I came home & told everyone, family and friends, so we all waited for it to be aired.
Imagine my dismay when all they showed was my hands! At least I can say my hands have been in something. LOL


Leon said...

When you work as "background talent" aka an extra, you quickly learn to come prepared with plenty of reading material. The real pros also bring their own chairs (folded up in a bag) so they don't have to sit on rickety plastic folding chairs. I have been lucky to have more than my hands appear on air. But this time, I was just out-of-sight.