A Note to Extras
Posted by Dirck on 22 April, 2016
Back when this province had a flourishing film industry, I occasionally found myself joining my wife as a background extra. This is not acting, as such, because one doesn’t need the layers of character and motivation nor the deep well of skill and well-honed craft which makes people like… well, pretty much everyone on Downton Abbey or Sherlock so fascinating to watch. It does, however, take a little attention to the notion of creating a fictional reality. For example, the scene is set in July, so you need to ignore the fact that it’s late April and bloody cold as you walk idly through an amusement park in a t-shirt and believe it’s a nice summer day, otherwise too many people who want to watch an actual actor do interesting things will be distracted by the cranky, slightly blue person rubbing his arms as he passes between Ferris wheel and merry-go-round, incongruously freezing to death in the middle of a heat-wave.
Also, as a background extra, even if you in fact walk in front of the big-name actors in the scene, do not look at the camera. It is a visual challenge to the viewer, and draws them away from the story they came to enjoy. Here, check this out:
See? You want to see what life in Paris a century ago was like, but you end up in a staring contest with someone’s ghost.