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April 3, 2014

Today I got to be on set doing extra work. It was the first time I had done extra work in a while, and I quickly remembered why. There are lots of downsides to being an extra.

Before I continue, I’ll mention that I’m non union (and am in Chicago). Last fall, the Mothering Actor wrote a cool post about what she learned from being a union extra in New York.

As far as the downsides go from today, here were a few of them:

-I got four hours of sleep last night and had a 6:45am call time.

-My check in number got changed without my knowledge. Check-in was less than pleasant.

-The first scene was shot outside. It was incredibly windy and cold. Not only were we not allowed to warm up inside, but we had to remove hats, gloves and jackets whenever we were shooting.

-We had an extremely late lunch. Eating was very difficult because of the limited time spent in holding.

…are you sick of the bitching yet?

I met lots of wonderful people on set today and couldn’t be more grateful. Not everyone is a whiner. That being said, I find that I frequently encounter extras that are constantly looking for something to complain about.

Fortunately for me, I just finished up “My Big Year” – an accountability group with Courtney Rioux. There were two big things I learned through Courtney that helped me with today:

1) You can choose to be happy, or you can choose to be right.

2) Focusing on the negatives means only seeing the negatives. But focusing on the positives will mean only seeing the positives.

Despite some undesirable set conditions, I made a point to continue looking for the positives. Here are some of the ones I found:

-I got paid an extra half hour because of the time mix up.

-Depending on cuts/angles that the director chooses, I might get some pretty sweet camera time! Doesn’t always happen as an extra.

-It may have been very brief and rushed, but I was one of about ten extras on a set of a hundred that got to grab some quick breakfast snacks. (NOTE: There was an option for bacon. Due to a new diet, I didn’t indulge. This is a big deal and I want all of Chicago to know. Please proceed.)

-We got a solid two hours of overtime pay.

-Mentioned this earlier, but I met some new friends on set!

Whether we’re extras, actors, or working any sort of gig, the same theme applies: Sometimes we forget that we applied for this job ourselves (or through agents). No one forced us to do it. Having done a fair amount of extra work over the past two years, I’ve learned that there are awesome days where we get fed and have lots of breaks….and then have days where we go eight to ten hours without food…or breaks. It’s not fun, but it’s part of the job. We can either continue to focus on the negatives and previous set conditions that felt like Christmas, or we can continue to bitch.

Which route would you prefer?

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