I never thought much of acting for film or video when I was a thespian in the 70s/80s. I was a theater guy.
Yes, Minnesota was NOT the hotbed of filmmaking. The few indies that sprouted up just didn't seem appealing when one was drawing a weekly paycheck to act on stage.
But occasionally a buddy would mention the need for some "atmosphere" people for a day or two. So, would show up and hobkonb.
In order to get a speaking line in a film, you pretty much needed agency representation. Which means you had to be available. Which means you also had to be unique (I was taller, but still looked like thousands of other dashing and good-looking men in their 20s).
Extra work is quite boring. You stand around a lot. You really can't move. You walk in circles. It might take 3-4-5 hours to shoot a minute or two of film. Very tedious. And you must look, act...be the same every time they turn on the camera.
I would drift over to the church, the stadium, the ice arena, the mall, when the schedule permitted. Again, I decided not to be a "film" actor because I was happy with theater.
I'm in a lot of films. That's the back of my head in Ice Castles. That's me walking across the yard in Deer Hunter, as well as standing waaaaay up by Northrop Auditorium in The Heartbreak Kid. My parents and I didn't make Airport, unless you believe we are the fuziness at the other end of the terminal, although our car got snow dumped on it in the parking lot.
That's me, at Central Lutheran Church, for Foolin' Around with others from my congregational home. I'm moving around in the light booth at First Avenue in Purple Rain. My shoulder made a shot, my butt another. Recently I spent all morning at a commercial shoot and all I have to show is my hand filling a cup with pop. No matter how hard you try to be around the camera (but never looking at it) there is no control. Editing destroys many a career. At least stand-ins get paid big bucks.
So, as I applaud from the viewing audience in A Prairie Home Companion, or look over my shoulder at a guy disturbing my drink at a bar in Lambent Fuse, know that I now look at the chance to sit and not say a line as a blessing, at times.
I now happily do extra work. A lot of film, commercial, music video work is non-speaking atmosphere. Filling in the scenery. You meet so many interesting folks. What makes being an "extra" really unique is the great number of people that don't want to act, don't want to speak...just want to be a part of the filmmaking experience.
In California, I'm told, you can make a pretty darn good living as an extra if you have the wardrobe and can blend into the background.
In Minnesota, you can do a lot of extra work because people want free actors.
This BLOG will be my personal exploration into the World of Performance Art. Follow me as I return to an Adventure started in the sixties to be An Actor!