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Movie Extra

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Kasey Emas. Credit: F1 Photography/Minh Q. Nguyen Kasey Emas. Credit: F1 Photography/Minh Q. Nguyen

By Thomas Morrison | LSU Student

Louisianans in need of a job may be in luck. The state's current movie boom is creating a need for movie extras.

Extras are people seen in the background of movies without prominent or any speaking roles. A good example would be the crowd running from invading aliens in the Baton Rouge produced movie "Battle: Los Angeles."

Melissa Hatten is a graduate student at Louisiana State University from Winnsboro, La., who has spent every summer since 2007 working as a movie extra. Her resume includes such as "Harold and Kumar 2" and "Green Lantern."

"It's a really great job for a student because there is so much down time on set you can study and do a lot of homework."

Actress, model and LSU undergraduate Kasey Emas said the best way to get into acting is to join a talent agency and go to casting calls. "They aren't really looking for talent with the extras. They try to keep us actors separated."

Extras typically make about $100 for a day's work, but extras can expect long shifts, sometimes a much as 12 hours.

"Most of the time it is just sitting down or walking around," Hatten said. "But in a few cases, such as for scenes in movies like Green Lantern, we had to run sprints for a few hours in the heat."

Hatten warned that even though one might see movies filming around town, such as the comedy Pitch Perfect on the LSU campus, the movie industry, growing or not, remains relatively small.

"You might not get work here for a while. I wouldn't rely on it as my only source of income but it is great for extra money."

Emas has had small parts in the Louisiana productions "Breakout Kings", the MTV movie "Worst Prom Ever" and the Jonah Hill comedy "21 Jump Street."

"On the lower budget shoots some of the actors will come and introduce themselves," Hatten said. "But most of the time you aren't allowed to approach them."

Those looking to become a future movie star, however, may be disappointed in a lack of actual screen time when the movie is completed.

"Screen time is hit or miss since you are being booked as ‘background,'" Hatten said. "If you are familiar with the scene and remember where you were, you can usually spot yourself. I've seen the back of my head several times in movies I've done."

New Orleans native and 2010 LSU graduate Andrew Herbert has worked as an extra for several movies and said he happened into the business by chance. His first movie was the comic book adaptation of "Jonah Hex" set during the civil war.

"My family and I were participating in a local civil war reenactment," Herbert said. "The film production was taking pictures of us ‘reenactors' and they took my picture. Three months later I got a call to be a featured actor."

Herbert said he gets most of his extra work from the same production company's mailing list and said Craigslist is a good tool in finding jobs. For Herbert, extra work is a great secondary income and said he knows not to expect full time work in the field.

CONTACT: wmorri9@tigers.lsu.edu 706.405.5260

"They are looking for very specific people for each movie, and it would be hard for one person to meet every expectation that different movies want. It would be hard to be a full time extra."

The government run web site Louisianaentertainment.gov lists jobs opportunities for extras and those interested in movie production.

For those interested in being an extra in "Pitch Perfect" visit www.open-casting-calls.info/2011/10/universal-pictures-open-casting-call.html.

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