----------------------------------------------- */ ----------------------------------------------- */ ----------------------------------------------- */ ----------------------------------------------- */ ----------------------------------------------- */ ----------------------------------------------- */ The Fabulous Adventures of Astera: Writer/Actress for Hire: "Extra" Disappointment

The Fabulous Adventures of Astera: Writer/Actress for Hire

Meet Astera (aka: me), a star in her own mind. Our plucky little heroine has embarked on not one but two difficult, low-paying career paths: writing and acting. Witness the menial jobs! The unreasonable demands! The quirky friends and family! And the glimmer of success just ahead! Through it all, Astera maintains her core beliefs: 1) She is destined to be fabulous 2) Everything is more fun with a cocktail.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

"Extra" Disappointment

Remember way back a year ago when I did a long, cold grueling day's extra work for Memoirs of a Geisha? If you'd like to relive the agony, read about it here. You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll wonder if I'm insane, particularly since I then did extra work again on a Will Smith movie.

Well, anyway, extras usually just blend into the crowd and no one ever gets recognized. But Memoirs was a big-buget production and I was excited to see how my scene turned out, at least. So, I went to see the movie with my family and we were all sort of looking forward to the end, not only because it's a really long movie but because that's when my scene was supposed to be. So the movie is going on and on (the book is way better, in my opinion), and then it gets to the climactic point with Sayuri and the Chairman and then the screen goes white and the movie is over! They had a little rendezvous and that was it! There was no scene in New York circa 1948, or whenever it was supposed to be! I, and all those other extras, got dressed up in our period costumes and our uncomfortable shoes all for nothing! Most disappointing. I can't even get screen time as an extra.

So, for anyone thinking of doing extra work here's some wisdom I have gleaned:
  1. Extra work can be fun once or twice, particularly if you get to be on your favorite TV show or in a big movie. If nothing else, you'll learn your way around the set.
  2. Be prepared for obscenely early mornings and very long days. You'll earn that minimum wage they're paying you.
  3. You'll be sitting around for long periods of time, so bring a book. Or, if you want to be social, bring a deck of cards.
  4. Once in a while, an extra is plucked from a crowd scene to do a bit and have more of a chance of being recognized. This happens very rarely, though, so don't count on it.
  5. Extra work is not really considered "paying your dues." Since you are unlikely to be recognized, you can't put it on a demo reel. To pay your dues, you're better off working for free in student films or no-budget productions and demanding a finished copy for your reel.
  6. If you do extra work too often, you run the risk of being branded "just an extra," at least according to my agent.
  7. Do not put extra work on your acting resume. Just about anyone can be an extra, so it's nothing special.

Okay, that's it for the advice. I'm still on the lookout for legitimate acting opportunities. In fact, I have an audition for a low-budget commercial on Wednesday. But this is my solemn vow: No more extra work!


  • At 10:42 AM, Anonymous Sarah said…

    Have you watched Ricky Gervais' new show on HBO, "Extras?" I always think of you when I watch it. It definitely portrays all the sitting around well. Although he always manages to interact with the stars, but, of course, it is his tv show.


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