Being an Extra

embarrassing
dancing
extras
acting
unpaid

#1

Anyone here been an extra? You know, those chumps in the background who are just glorified scenery, like a tree or a rock.

I have sketchy memories of it now, but I did a bit of extra work back when I was a teenager through my aunt who had started to get into that sort of thing. Was a bit of a laugh at the time, I remember being an enthusiastic audience member in the background clapping during an episode of Pobol Y Cwm.

The weirdest one though was some two-part BBC Wales drama whose name I’m not sure I ever found out. Not weird in the sense of its subject matter, which as an extra I may never know, but weird because the scene we were extras in was of a big night out in Clwb Ifor Bach. So there’s me, a self-conscious teenager dancing (I never danced back then) with a glass of flat pepsi in my hand, pretending to be drunk and having a great time.

It was fucking traumatising at the time. Crew members would dance up to you and say things like “go dance with that group over there” where I’d have to mosey up to complete strangers and dance with them like we went way back and it wasn’t a fucking weird thing to do in any way. It was bad enough that dancing played to every insecurity I had, but the fact that we had to do it in silence was eating me alive. No-one addressed the fact that if there’s no music, there’s no tempo, so everyone would be dancing to their own arbitrary beat. Instead, each group just kind of synchronised with themselves, shutting the rest of the room out as they strained their forced-relaxed smiles on their faces.

Kinda wish I knew what that program was now, as I’m morbidly curious to see if I even made it into the background of it, or to see how awkward that scene looked with people dancing to non-existent rhythms.

Anyway, any of you lot been extras in anything?


#2

I was an extra in a film that lost about £100 million I believe. It was pretty great, loadss of free food and all.


#3

What film was it?


#4

This explains so much about night club scenes in films and TV


#5

Yeah, in whatever the sequel to A Fish Called Wanda was called. Never even seen it.


#6

I was asked to be part of a police line up if that counts? Got paid a fiver.


#7

Yeah that counts, did you get picked?


#8

City of ember


#9

If you disliked “Wanda”, you’ll loathe this!

Nice.


#10

Yes, got 5 years. Worth it for a fiver though.


#11

Had the option to be an extra or work in the wardrobe department on Band of Brothers. Choose the wardrobe department. Good pay, good food, didn’t have to get cold and dirty for half the day.


#12

Yeah I’m not saying what though
It’s a boring job


#13

As mentioned before my mum did it for years. Here she is:

Used to get really good money sometimes and worked quite a bit (10-15 days a month).

She was an extra in the Phantom Menace and got paid for autographs at a convention, was even offered to be flown out to the US for a convention. It took a still from the film for even me to be able to spot her.

Used to be weird watching TV and she would crop up somewhere unexpectedly, very distracting.


#14

Smell my cheese, your mother


#15

Yup, fuck knows how many times I have seen that episode and my bloody mum is in it. She’s also in the audience of the Dante Fires presentation.


#16

BTW, I can get you her autograph on a Phantom Menace still? £12


#17

THEO DID A GOOD JOKE!


#18

I haven’t, but a friend of mine does from time to time. Remember him telling me he was in something involving dogs a while ago. The dogs got paid more than the extras.


#19

It’s alright mate: you gave chosen to be an unknowable enigma. I wouldn’t want to risk jeopardising that.


#20

Gotten dragged into it a few times but usually on things I’m editing so i make sure to edit myself out.

My voice appears in a number of tv shows as ive mentioned previously.