Being an extra
There is a specific procedure that each extra follows every day:
- Arrive on set at the designated time. (Before you leave set the previous day, you are told when your call time is for the next day.)
- Get in line at the Pavilion tent and pick up your voucher. (You can’t get paid without your voucher!)
- Get in line at wardrobe. Exchange your voucher for your wardrobe.
- Go inside the changing tent (one for guys, one for gals, and the only area that is HEATED) and change into your wardrobe.
- Go out and do your acting thing. :)
- At the end of the day, go inside the changing tent, and change back into your own clothes.
- Get in line at wardrobe. Exchange your wardrobe for your voucher.
- Get in line at the Pavilion tent, sign your voucher, and turn it in.
Here’s the breakdown of extras (according to the call sheet):
- 26 Utica: 15 employees, 8 friends/family, 2 teens, 1 child
- 26 Albany: 15 employees, 8 friends/family, 2 teens, 1 child
- 22 Nashua: 15 employees, 6 friends/family, 1 child
- 27 Corporate (NY): 15 employees, 9 friends/family, 2 teens, 1 child
- 27 Buffalo: 15 employees, 9 friends/family, 2 teens, 1 child
- 15 Scranton: 12 friends/family, 2 teens, 1 child
- 10 Akron: 10 employees
- 10 Rochester: 10 employees
- 3 bar/drink servers
- 4 caterers
- 6 other children, 6-8 years old
- 3 other children, 3-5 years old, for Utica, Albany, Nashua
- 3 other children, 3-5 years old, for Buffalo, Corporate, Scranton
- TOTAL NUMBER OF EXTRAS: 182
While this isn’t the most number of extras ever used in an Office episode (someone told me that honor belongs to ‘Dwight’s Speech,’ which employed around 400 extras), ‘Company Picnic’ is definitely the most logistically complex, with both a large number of extras PLUS an outdoor location shoot.
This was the first day of picnic shooting, and I arrived woefully under-dressed. And by under-dressed, I mean, I was dressed for 70 degree weather, when it was actually below 40 degrees most mornings!
I was clearly not a “professional extra,” but I was surrounded by them.
You could tell who they were, because they brought their own carry-on luggage, replete with outerwear for every possible weather condition. During those freezing cold mornings, I could see extras wearing floor-length down coats, hats, scarves, and gloves.
What did I have? Jeans, t-shirt, and light canvas jacket. I was freezing my ass off. I would go to the food truck, fill up a cup with hot water, and use it to warm my hands.
All extras were given the instruction “Wear one outfit for the week, and come hair and make-up ready.”
When it was my turn to receive my wardrobe for the week, I received an apron. “You’re going to be a grill cook.” Cool!
About an hour later, though, as I was wandering around the picnic grounds, one of the Office staff walks up to me and says, “Jennie, we’re changing your assignment, you’re now going to be a Buffalo employee,” and hands me the bright orange t-shirt. They grinned and said, “you’re part of a special branch.” Haha.
I can’t remember when or how I found out that “special” meant “eliminated,” but by the time we started shooting our big scene, I knew exactly what was going to happen.
I talked to quite a few extras, and determined that the majority of them were NOT Office fans. Many had never watched the show, and a few didn’t know who Steve Carell was.
All, however, were very happy to be extras that week, because The Office staff had the reputation of treating the extras well. Much better than on other shows, it seems. And one extra told me, “…and to be able to be an Office extra for an entire week, well, I feel like I won the lottery!”
I didn’t take any photos of the food this time, but just let me say, we were fed very, very well. As in a hot breakfast buffet with a breakfast burrito truck on the side, fully catered lunch with beef, chicken, fish, pasta, salad, and dessert for lunch, plus a hot snack and trays of sweets in the afternoon. We were not lacking for food. Ever.