Monthly Archives: October 2012

#6 Become an Extra in a Film or Telemovie

Have you ever hankered to have a moment, however brief, on the big screen?

If, like me, you’ve no discernable acting talent, this has probably seemed like a pipe dream, but now, I may have found the solution:

#6 Become an Extra in a Film or Telemovie

Extras don’t normally speak, so voice projection skills aren’t necessary. In fact, extras play such an unimportant, unskilled role in the background that they’re barely noticeable until – and this is the vital point – there are no extras present and it becomes glaringly obvious that something important is missing. That ‘something important’ is definitely a skill I thought I could bring to any film.

So when a recent advertisement in our local paper called for extras for the filming of a telemovie called ‘Cliffy’, I immediately put up my hand.

The film is about Cliff Young, a 61-year-old, unheralded potato farmer from Western Victoria who became famous when he won an ultra marathon race (or shuffle as it turned out) from Sydney to Melbourne in 1983.

His tortoise-and-hare approach to the race, where he beat out all the other showier, younger but ultimately slower contenders, was a real feel-good moment for the nation. Here was a chance to snatch a small role in a classic telemovie and live the dream.

After completing the registration forms, I awaited The Call from the Extras Casting Director. When it came I was slotted to play an audience member seated in a television studio as ‘Cliff’ was being interviewed after his race win.

So I plucked my best 1980s-style jacket from the back of my wardrobe  – no need for me to visit the wardrobe department on set – and arrived ready for action.

And waited.

And waited.

Because that’s what extras do. They wait.

Finally my moment arrived, but rather than play a part of the audience, I became what’s known as a “featured extra”. I was to stand in the background pretending to be a studio manager ‘chatting’ to another extra, as the actor playing Cliff was about to go on set for his interview. A real acting role!

My new colleague clearly had great acting aspirations too.

During the repeated shootings of that 10-second scene, he gesticulated in such an exaggerated and unusual manner that I just stood there open-mouthed, perplexed at what he was doing and wondering if I should be doing the same. So I did.

I now have an uneasy feeling that we’ll both end up on the cutting room floor…

***

STOP PRESS

I didn’t end up on the cutting room floor!

If you look very carefully behind Cliffy’s shoulder in this shot from the film, you’ll see the vital role that extras play.

Cliffy 2

The final word in vanity searches…?