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.
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…
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.
The final word in vanity searches…?