You would normally hear the phrases “Extra! Extra! Read all about it!” in the US or Britain, when the main transportation means is through a horse-drawn carriage and when bowler hats were in fashion, announcing the headlines of the news paper so that passersby will purchase a copy. Well nowadays, it’s rarely used. You can get your daily dose of news via the internet via your computer/ tablet/ smartphone
Well this is post is not about newspapers. This is about another type of extras. I’m referring to those who appear in TV along side celebrities who most of the time are just walking by in the background. I became one for Belo Essentials “DIVAS” 30s TVC. And I had a BLAST! Check it out on youtube!
It started call from a friend who was working in Belo asking if I was available to extra. Good thing I had suspension from my tardiness from work so I said yes. The thing was, I was under the weather suffering from colds and asthma. Considering the call and opportunity, I decided to grab it (it’s not everyday you get a call for a shooting, right?). As I have mentioned in previous post, I have always wanted to be a travel talk show host right? That dream is still alive but I have come to terms that it might just be a dream. So this kind of opportunity should not be shrugged off.
So on the shooting day, we arrived a bit early at the location. The theater was being set-up: there were lights, smoke machines, mirrors, cameras, props with the director checking every aspect directing minute changes on every thing on the set. I had to stop right there and took a deep breath. This was one of the careers that I was considering to take: showbusiness. HAHAHAHAHA! (i wanted to be an artist/actor when i was in preschool, swear to God!). Bottom line, I wanted to be either on camera or off camera at one point in my life.
We had breakfast first as rest of the my friend’s office mates started arriving with their other friends who will be extras for the shoot. It was nice to meet new people and like me, are in our mid 20s and rocking it in their own professional careers. After breakfast, I checked the story board to know what scenes will be taken and found that the two endorsers for the day will be none other than Sarah G and Toni G, two of the brightest young stars of our generation. I am not a big celebrity fanatic but I idolize Toni Gonzaga for being her impeccable hosting! It must be the tone of her voice plus her witty adlibs that makes her a perfect host. Add her superb acting skills, then you have a force to be reckoned with! Sarah G on the other hand has her all powerful voice and sweet charms that got almost everyone captivated by her. I said to myself, it’ll be a treat indeed.
The extras were grouped in two: one who will be production people for Toni’s shots, the other for Sarah’s. I was with Toni’s group who were to shoot first. The production director had to give us specific tasks for the shot. I was to pull this rack of clothes after Toni walked passed with the thought of being happy since the concert was over and it was time for pack-up. Fairly easy right? Yes it was but the challenge was repeating it again and again to get that “money shot” as they say. We had a fair number of takes and most of them were good but it’s not up to us to decide but the agency as well as the client have the final say if that was the shot. The production director was always saying that we all should have high energy and animatedly talk and interact with each other. We gave him that but doing it repetitively would left us a bit drained. Toni was of course gorgeous. The cuts were mainly because of us the extras and not her. She was really good.
The next part of the shoot was Toni again. This time she was sitting on a chair and speaking lines. What we had to do was just pass quietly (and i mean shush, not a sound or word) in the background. This shoot was more meticulous since there are lines to be delivered. We had to do several takes for this too and it was a good thing that one of my friend belonged to the same group so I chatted with him every time they did a playback. Although there was one instance when I was prancing in the background…
Me: <prancing in the background>
Me: urgh (quietly) <hitting the knob>
Me: (mouth open as i saw the knob falling down)
Prod Director: Anyare dyan?(What happened there?) Quiet on the set.
I wanted to poof out of the theater but since I’m mortal, I just smiled and carried on. The director did not say “cut” and we don’t stop moving until they say “cut” (snaps with head moving side to side).
We had lunch after that scene. The stage needs to be rearranged for another scene. I honestly thought that being and extra was a means to get paid with minimum effort but I guess i was wrong. It has it’s own difficulties primarily because of the repetition that you had to do. Lunch with everyone was really nice mainly because everyone was nice. The fact that we were all of the same age group was a big plus too of us getting along well.
The next scene will show both Toni and Sarah waving to the crowd behind them, turn around and walks towards the camera as the curtains closes behind them. We were in the background cheering them on as fans with flashing cameras. We were given instructions already on what to do but had to wait for the talents who were taking their lunches so we had a few minutes to kill time. We took pictures here and there and ended up chatting a lot with each other. And it honestly felt like I was talking to friends whom I have known for a long time.
It was time to take again. With both endorsers on the stage, dressed in gorgeous gowns, I was like “OMG, they look breath taking” with a conyo accent with matching imaginary braces (imagine what it would sound like. i’ll try to demo it if you get to meet me). The scene was we are their audience who are cheering them on as the show ended. I can work that. We were cheering and jumping to our feet to the tune of Nicki Minaj’s Starships. The scene was easy but our throats were a bit dry after since we were cheering for a more realistic feel on the part of the endorsers. We finished it just in time for another break as the theater is prepared for Sarah’s shoot.