I have a Life List of things I want to accomplish during my lifetime. One of the things on my list is to be an extra in a movie. Last summer, a coworker told me in passing that she got an email about a casting call and I asked that she forward it to me. Mr. Fiancé and I went to the casting call, where we learned the movie title and some of the cast members. We were also told that most the extras would be in hazmat suits and thus unrecognizable. I thought, well doesn’t that figure? The one time I have the opportunity to be an extra, I won’t even have a chance to be seen. (cue: Alanis Morissette’s song Ironic.) A few months passed and I finally heard back.
I am an extra in a movie!!! And as a survivor!! No hazmat suit for me! Look out for me in Contagion due out September 9, 2011 starring Matt Damon, Gwyneth Paltrow, Kate Winslet, Jude Law, and Lawrence Fishburne, directed by Steven Soderbergh. I haven’t seen any trailers for it yet, but I’m guessing they should be starting soon!
The movie is about a contagious disease that wipes out the planet. Kind of like Outbreak. IMDB says, “An action-thriller centered on the threat posed by a deadly disease and an international team of doctors contracted by the CDC to deal with the outbreak.” As you will see in the movie trailer, Gwyneth contracts the disease and it spreads like wildfire. The opening clip talks about how germs spread so easily and how often we touch bacteria and grossness to our face. I might just become a germ-aphobe after watching this movie. But I have to go see it, I might be in it!
Mr. Fiancé couldn’t take that day off work that we were summoned for, so being determined to mark something off my list, I went to the filming all by myself. When I arrived on set, on Dec 10th, 2010, I had absolutely no idea what to expect. The holding room had long cafeteria style tables that were all completely full. and I even got a, “sorry that seat is taken,” snide comment. I felt like a little school girl trying to find a seat at the lunch table. A group of really great girls my age over heard this and made room just for me. The four of us strangers spent the whole day together as if we were long time friends. We had a blast! We made friends with other extras and set crew. People even asked if we came together. We made friends with a guy who looked identical to Professor Snape. Seriously, if he ever needs a body double, I found his match.
After over an hour of standing outside in the cold, half asleep without moving, we found out that the directors were creating a plan B. The original plan was to have an air drop of food to the survivors, but they couldn’t get the fans (simulating helicopters) to work properly so the directors, right there on set the reworked it to be a food truck delivery.
We were instructed not to wear anything bright, neon or something that would stand out. I had put on eyeliner that day (if I was going to be in a movie, I wanted to look good!) but the crew made me take it off. They didn’t even want me to have on nail polish (even under my mittens!) They wanted us to look cold and like sick, tired and starving survivors. We didn’t have to act real hard to look cold and we didn’t need makeup to make us look sick! Being out in the cold did that for us naturally! Instead of hazmat suits we all had on heavy winter gear and medical masks “to protect us from germs.” The girls and I realized we were in the line that kept getting shafted. We kept being moved further and further and at one point our line was behind bushes! We all decided, we went there to be extras so after lunch we very slyly ditched our group and made our way closer to the set.
I am in the scene where Matt (yes, I’m on first name basis now) gets in a fight with a fellow survivor. Then Randy, one of the survivors, shouts that there is another truck that might have food over yonder and everyone makes a mad dash for the truck. Be sure to look for him because I was right beside him during some of the takes. Depending on your birthday month, it determined if you ran for the truck or if you leisurely walked towards the food. This scene was filmed for probably 3 hours because it just didn’t look right. Finally, they told everyone to just run for it. I am very interested to see how these scenes turn out and what clip they use! After being out there for so many hours, I was legit cold. I kept to the earthy colors all day, but eventually I needed my thicker scarf! I took out my blue scarf to try to warm up. Plus, I kind of ripped my medical mask, so I needed to cover my mouth (from the contamination germs of course!). If you see a blue scarf, that might be me! Check out the trailer on IMDB and check out the scene at 1:33!!
Despite standing outside in the dead of winter for 7 hours straight with only a break for lunch (which was brought outside to us), I think we were pretty lucky. It was 30 degrees instead of 10 below zero and the sun was shinning. Even with snow boots, two layers of wool socks and winter gear, our toes were completely frozen. The celeb on site that day was none other than Matt Damon! (read: Matt DAAAMON) It was a long day, I’m not going to lie. But definitely one for the memory books.
I will admit, Matt was outside with us, in the cold, for nearly the entire day. Major kudos and respect for him now. Actually, I have a new respect for actors and the whole process. It can’t be easy to do the same one minute clip over and over and over again. It took us 7 hours to get probably literally one minute of film. He must have gotten in that fight for 30 takes. Can you imagine ‘being beaten up’ by Matt Damon? That would be AMAZING! To think this movie has been in the works for over a year now – the process takes so long! It was supposed to come out in late October, but I just found out that it got bumped up to September! No complaints here.
At the end of the day, everyone started packing up and walking away. One of the girls noticed Matt Damon still out and interacting with the extras. He so kindly took this photo with us!
I am glad to see my scene in the trailer! At least now I know it should be in the movie. So many scenes get deleted, I didn’t know what would happen! They took so many takes, I am very curious to know what clip winds up in the movie. I even have a lady date with one of the girls from the set to go see ourselves star in the movie! GO SEE IT!!
Question, so if you can’t see me in the movie, or they don’t use my scene, does that still count as being an extra? Would you still mark it off your Life List?
Have you ever been an extra in a movie? What was your experience like? If you see Contagion and you spot me, let me know!