I took a couple extra days off last week. Life has been hectic, so the idea of a couple days off with nothing to do sounded perfect. Let this week’s column warn you to be careful what you wish for.
My text alert goes off Thursday night that would grant my wish over the next 24 hours, yet turn my week upside down. The text came from the casting company that hired the extras for “The Mule,” the movie directed by Clint Eastwood that filmed a few scenes here in Augusta. I didn’t get the role of ‘DJ’ for “The Mule.” However, the same casting company needed about 350 extras for a different movie filming in Covington. I just so happened to have that Friday off, so I responded: “Sure, I can make a noon call time, no problem!” I don’t think I’m supposed to give any details about the movie, so I’ll just say that it features pretty much the biggest action star around.
They informed me that cellphones would not be allowed on set and if I didn’t leave it in my car, it would be collected as soon as I checked in. With my phone secured safely in my car, I boarded the shuttle that would take us to the set. I tried to hide my excitement and act like this wasn’t my first time. The only problem was, I had no clue what to do, what to say, where to go or how long I would be there. Luckily, everyone was very friendly and very helpful.
The scene when I arrived was almost chaotic. Huge lines of people everywhere leading to registration, wardrobe, makeup or hair. To be honest, I had no clue where any of these lines went or which one I was supposed to be in.
I finally found my way to makeup. They gave me a quick shave and slapped some tooth makeup on. Side note: Tooth makeup is a thing. The movie is set in 1920s London, so they put some stuff on my teeth to make them look worn, I guess. Honestly, it just looked like I ate a whole bag of Doritos using just my front teeth and never drank anything to wash it down. After the tooth gunk, I was off to ‘extras holding.’ It was a college cafeteria that I would call home for the next 10 hours.
Yes, you read that right. Ten long, agonizing hours. There’s really no way I can express just how agonizingly boring this was. Imagine being in a strange place with 350 strange people with no phone, no TV, nothing to read, limited seating and you can’t leave for 10 hours. Oh, and you’re dressed in a wool three-piece suit because, y’know, 1920s London. At least we were indoors. I mostly just stood around and stared. Sure, I struck up conversations here and there, but those only last so long. I can’t think of anyone on this earth I’d want to talk to for 10 hours straight … other than the dude that voices the Arby’s commercials, of course. However, I did find out how to put in for work as an extra on some of my favorite shows: “The Walking Dead,” “Stranger Things” and “Ozark,” to name a few.
They were filming other scenes during that 10-hour stretch. One in which I thought I’d be in. They needed 15 extras, and I was No. 15. When they walked us over to the set, they grabbed 13 of us and sent me and another guy back. Almost made it! It was like being picked for a softball team but being told to sit on the bench immediately after you run out onto the field.
Right around 10 o’clock, they finally called all 350 of us to the set. It was time for our big scene! We were told to act like an upset group of people. Piece of cake! My placement in the angry crowd is pretty sweet, so hopefully you’ll be able to pick ol’ baldy out on the screen. An hour and a half later, I was free to go. Yep, 10 hours of waiting for an hour and a half of work. Was it worth it? Let’s just say I’ve already sent off for a few other opportunities to be an extra, but this time, I’ll bring a crossword puzzle or something.