I just finished up a couple days as an extra on the set of the new Bruce Willis sci-fi movie "Surrogates" which has been shooting in Massachusetts for the last month or so. I've been on a few film sets but never a "real" Hollywood set. When I first arrived on location in Taunton at 4:40am (which meant getting up at 3:20am!!) Thursday, I immediately began to see the differences between indie sets and major studio productions. Huge air conditioned tents made up the holding area, cooked to order breakfasts provided by a catering company, air conditioned bus rides driving extras from holding to the actual set, more fantastic food at lunch, 3 cameras rolling for every shot, dollies and cranes for every shot too, dozens of crew members and hundreds of extras. There were even a couple of guys on the crew that I worked with on "Illegal Aliens", I spotted Aaron and spoke with Robbie for a few minutes.
I was one of 275 extras but was part of a smaller group called the core Dreads - but being "core" never really amounted to much. I did meet plenty of cool people to pass the 15 hour day with while we worked on just one scene all day. We just stood silently listening to Ving Rhames speak to us all. Ving was very cool and I was amazed how much his low booming voice carried. Ving plays the leader of the Dreads; people who shun technology and live on reservations in a sort of post-apocalyptic society. Ving spoke to all his people from a stage in front of a funeral pyre with a body on top. Towards the end of the day, the pyre was finally lit and we all gazed on - getting bonus "smoke" pay for our troubles.
On Friday only 50 of us were called back so call-time was bumped up to 7:00am, practically a vacation after getting just 3 hours of sleep the previous night. Of course the downside of working today was that I went to sleep during the 3rd quarter of the Celtics/Lakers game so missed the greatest NBA Finals comeback in history - D'oh! But so did most people on set so we could at least share our misery. Friday was a continuation of the funeral scene and we all just did a lot of walking away from the fire, just filling the background. In the afternoon I just found a quiet spot to watch Bruce Willis do some work and take a beating from some of Ving's boys. I'll keep what I learned about the plot to myself so as not to spoil the final movie for anyone.
I was supposed to work today too, but they scaled down the scene so canceled the day for all non-union extras.
SWEET - as I was typing this I got an email asking if I was available next Tuesday and Wednesday, so perhaps my days of being a Dread aren't over yet.
Thanks to the Celtics and Surrogates I haven't had time to be hit with "Lost" withdrawals yet.