Posted on Tue, Jul. 16, 2002
Philadelphia Daily News
A 'Hack' survival guide
So you want to be in pictures? Or maybe you'd just like to get your house on television. Here are a few things you might like to know:
What do casting directors look for in an extra?
"It depends on the needs of the scene," said "Hack" casting director Diane Heery, of Philadelphia's Mike Lemon Casting. She's in charge of recruiting "Hack's" extras and day players. "If it's a bar in Manayunk, that's a different kind of face than a stockbroker in Rittenhouse Square."
What's a day player?
"A day player is someone who speaks," said Heery. "There's no line limitation. It could go from one line to pages. It just means it all gets shot in one day," she said. "There's obviously acting skill involved...the actor who can play a doctor is probably not the toothless homeless guy as well."
What's the workday like?
Extras "should expect long days, 10 to 12 hours," said Heery. "If it's a day shoot, you could start at 5 or 6 a.m... .or if it's a night shoot, we could start at 6 p.m. and go till dawn."
What will they pay me?
Union extras here - for which each production has a quota - get $115 for an eight-hour day, while non-union extras are paid $75 a day. There's additional money for those who are asked, for instance, to provide their own cars.
I want to be an actor. Will working as an extra hurt my chances?
"In L.A., there's a stigma," Heery said. "If you do extra work, you'll never get considered for a speaking part. In Philly, there's no such thing. The line is crossed all the time in Philadelphia."
I don't even like having my picture taken at family weddings, but I live in a great house. How can I let "Hack" know about it?
"Hack" location manager Demian Resnick would be happy to consider your property - and it doesn't have to look like House Beautiful, either. "It's not always the nice and beautiful things we're looking for - sometimes we need things as plain as an empty building or a vacant lot...or as nice as a Society Hill townhouse," he said.
Send a picture and brief description of the property, along with a way to contact you - phone numbers are best - to:
Hack Location Office
c/o Greater Philadelphia Film Office
100 S. Broad St.
Philadelphia, PA 19110
do's and don'ts
"Hack" casting director Diane Heery offers these tips if you're chosen as an extra:
Be on time, because they're trying to keep to a shoot schedule and lateness puts everyone behind.
Be prepared. If they told you to bring certain kinds of clothes, bring them. If you've been asked to bring your car, make sure there's gas in it.
Bring busywork: a book, deck of cards, something quiet to get you through long stretches of down time.
Pay attention. Make sure you understand what you're being asked to do, and don't be afraid to ask the production assistant assigned to the extras if you don't understand, especially if it's your first day.
Leave your cell phone on. Heery said she's seen people fired because a phone or pager went off, ruining a scene.
Leave early. "We always tell people to count on 10 to 12 hours, and after five hours they're saying, 'I've got to be at work now.' "
Expect to be "discovered." Heery, a former actress herself, recalled participating in a movie scene years ago that took place outside, at a funeral. A girl she knew wore open-toed high heels on a wintry day that cried out for boots "because she really thought she was going to be discovered. And she got frostbite."
You can reach Ellen Gray by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, by fax at 215-854-5852 or by mail at the Philadelphia Daily News, Box 7788, Philadelphia, Pa. 19101.
Copyright (c) 2002 Philadelphia Daily News