Of all of the under-appreciated workers on movies, and all the thousands of people that come together to make a film happen, extras often get the short end of the stick when it comes to the film shoot. Not only are they often type cast and work long hours for minimal screen credit and even smaller pay, but there are often situations where long choreographed sequences, uncomfortable costumes, and incorrigible weather or special effects make for a very unpleasant experience. In order to counter these circumstances it’s worth looking at films in which it would be incredibly fun to be an extra. After all, there are certain kinds of ‘magic’ that only the cinema can provide, and as an extra, you would definitely be privy to it all. The following can also serve as inspiration for the types of jobs you should aspire to if you’re looking to be an extra in Hollywood (and honestly…who isn’t?).
“Spring Breakers” (Harmony Korine, 2013)
The copious wild party scenes that take up a good chunk of this exploitative neon starburst wonder of a flick would have made for an insanely fun shooting experience. It wouldn’t be surprising if Korine’s directions to his actors were literally: ‘party like it’s spring break.’ The slow motion camerawork captures everything from topless girls dancing by the beach, to keg stands flanked by drug-sniffing partygoers and girls with phallic popsicles. If you’ve got to be employed…partying out of control on command certainly seems like the best way of doing it.
“Perfume” (Tom Tykwer, 2006)
Ok, ignore the Victorian scenes where the extras are either overly dressed in uncomfortable period wear or stripped down to rags as bums. I’m thinking here of the climatic scene (pun most definitely intended) where Jean-Baptiste’s perfume unleashes the ravenous libido and uncontrollable sexual impulses of all those around him. The massive, writhing orgy that follows is an impressive feat of filmmaking and extra co-ordinating, and would certainly have made for an awkward/awesome acting experience. If anything, all the embarrassment of undergoing sex scenes would evaporate in lieu of the communal nature of it all; now there’s an ensemble acting gig not easily forgotten!
The “Harry Potter” Series (Various, 2001-2011)
I don’t know many fans of the Harry Potter series who wouldn’t skip town in a second if they were given the opportunity to be a Hogwarts student, even if it meant they might not necessarily get sorted into the house of their liking (Hufflepuff, anyone?). Regardless of the fact that the magic would be emanating from green screens rather than their wands, those extras seemed copiously well-fed at banquets, had the privilege of ‘taking classes’, and were able to enjoy the incredible world of Hogwarts in a manner many readers of the series and viewers of the films could only dream of.
“The Party” (Blake Edwards, 1968)
This classic gem of a film from the 1960s focuses on one of the most hilarious transformations in all of cinema as an elegant, upscale Hollywood dinner party slowly deteriorates into a rowdy and wild house party, all thanks to one unconventional mistakenly invited guest, an Indian Hollywood extra by the name of Hrundi (played by Peter Sellers in one of his most memorable performances). Things take a turn for the scandalous when an Elephant is brought into the party and the house becomes the site for a major foam bath – you can’t make this stuff up. The extras in that lavish house must have had the time of their lives taking their fancy cocktail wear and drenching it in bubbles before dipping into the gorgeous outdoor pool. Plus, the protagonist itself is meant to be an extra — this could thus be perceived as the epitome of how awesome extra’s experiences can potentially be in Hollywood.
“Zombieland” (Ruben Fleischer, 2009)
This goes for most zombie movies in general, but who wouldn’t want to spend their time chasing A-list celebrities covered in gore? Forget the “Walking Dead” photo app; professional make-up departments can make your zombie face look so realistic you’d be afraid to catch a glance of yourself in the mirror. Being a part of this mass villainous group would doubtlessly have been spectacular. At any rate, those hours spent in hair and make-up would be worth it just for the bizarre profile picture that would come of it.