Extras! Extras! Read All About THE WALKING DEAD
Published: October 22, 2010 - 12:28pm
For most of my life, I was in sales and management. The closest I got to film making was writing, directing and filming a teaching film for a concrete company I worked for over 20 years ago. I really enjoyed doing it though and I guess the feeling stuck with me all these years.
Back in May, a friend told me about a TV show, The Walking Dead, being shot in Atlanta and he said they were looking for extras to play the part of zombies. He thought I’d be perfect for the part and urged me to apply! Well I am fairly tall and slight of build and I figured what the heck, why not…so I sent in a couple of pictures and my info to a local casting company, Extras Casting Atlanta.
Now usually when someone does this sort of thing for the first time, you don’t hear back from them at first. You sit, wait and hope, but lets face it…there are probably hundreds, sometimes thousands, of people out there who also sent in their info and are waiting. The chance of them picking YOU really depends on what they want in “a certain look and/or size to fit their costumes (if that applies)” and how you look to them in your picture. But you keep trying till “your look” is needed!
This time I must have had “the look” though, because I heard back from them in a matter of minutes.
I was VERY surprised and secretly ecstatic! More than I honestly expected I would be. Just the thought of possibly being in a movie or TV show was….well, for lack of a better word, Exciting! ME, on TV! Wow… It wasn’t long before I found out exactly what all that meant. The hours on a set are usually VERY long…for everyone – cast, crew and extras! 12 to 14 hour days are common. You’re lucky if most of your scenes are shot in one location.
If you have a lot of makeup to put on (and take off when you are through), as was the case in The Walking Dead, you have to add 1 - 3 hours on top of that (sometimes longer)! All for a few of minutes of exposure on the big (or little) screen, if you are very lucky and that part does not end up on the editor’s floor.
In my first scene (I call it the gas station scene) I came in before dawn for makeup. I wasn’t the only one who had to be made up and by the time my turn came and they finished with me, it was about 9am. At that point, I waited till they decided to shoot my scene. And waited…and waited….. Then it was time for lunch.
Do you have any idea how hard it is to eat when you have latex makeup around your mouth?
Well it’s not easy, let me tell you! The good part was, I seemed to have lots of time to learn. When I finished I went back to… you guessed it… waiting some more.
About 3 o’clock we were taken from the extras’ holding area, over to the set. They especially liked the way a few of us looked, so we were taken aside and some still shots were taken in front of a green screen. That was different, but I’ll have to explain what that is later. Then it was back to waiting a bit more. Some of the other extras told me that they had been on sets all day long and were never used and I was beginning to think that was going to happen to me as well, when suddenly, around 7:10pm that night, a few of us were told to hurry up and get our contacts (our eyes) back in. They were ready for us on the set!!
Speaking of contacts let me tell you about these. They were full eye contacts, meaning they covered ALL of the white part of the eye too, and if you were not used to wearing contacts (something I’ve never done in my life), they can be quite uncomfortable. In my case, I could only wear them for a short while, or they would sting, plus everything was very blurry as well. Doing the scene was not as easy as I thought it would be. I had to rely on others to lead me to my spot and then tell me where to step so I did not fall. All this took place after waiting for over 14 hours. In all honesty though, extras don’t normally have to wait as long as I did that day. Usually it’s only for 4-6 hours (laughing).
The waiting was well worth it though! It seems that I had the “right look” they wanted that day, because now that look has been shown all over the US and abroad by AMC and Fox International in their advertising for the new TV Series.
What started out as a “fun thing to try on a whim”, wound up with me being a “featured extra” and receiving great exposure from that one scene, as well as a few other featured promo shots being used. You never know what might be just around the corner for you in this business! Be ready for ANYTHING…because it might just change your life!
From that, I’ve gone on to being a featured extra in an upcoming Cartoon Network movie called Neverfail.
The fight scene in that one was awesome…and “we did our own stunts”, but that’s another story for another column.