Cinema extra’s and Charity

July 19th, 2011 by Gareth


I have been noticing lately a change in the way extras do their business on film. In the olden days the extra would be say, in a crowded scene like a train or a bus and have to pretend to be watching the world go by deep in thought, trying not too look directly into the camera, or at the lead actor.  A couple of extra’s can have a conversation with each other but this can not too animated as too overshadow the main action. An argument between too lovers would be wrong, or someone laughing at the others joke would be frowned upon. Generally a interaction between two extras would consist of them just nodding at each  other vacantly.

Things are changing

Now with iphone, ipods and every other communication device. Extras in films are plugged into their multi media communication device of choice, looking away into the distance listening to Podcasts or Lady Gaga. Or they are looking down playing Angry Birds. Watch carefully in the films now, you can see it a lot.  My questions are as follows:

I wonder if they really do get the chance to play angry birds for real, or are they acting? Do they bring their own communciation device of choice or are they provided one? How do they they cope when they have do a period piece?

Film vs Real Life

I sometimes get confused about my actions in the real world are affected by my experience of films, especially when most of my itunes consist of soundtracks. For example do these things happen in real life.

1.  Staring at a gravestone of a deceased love one deep in thought. Rain optional.

2. Speaking into the speakerphone instead of putting it too my ear.

3. Wearing long black coats.

3. After a bout of coughing looking at my hanky for spots of blood.

4. Running in the rain without a coat.

5. Laughing with a loved one on a selection of fun time activities.

6. Saying the line “things change’ while staring out of windows.

7. Disarming a nuclear bomb in under 30 seconds.

Just wondering.


I am running my first 10k race for the british heart foundation on the 20th August in greenwich park. Please if you can sponser me a quid and here’s the link

Also I am currently in a wetsuit around bus stops in the London area promoting this:

One last plug: Bernadette is writing a play for this lovely company below in Edinburgh festival.

see you



  1. Brilliant. Thank to so much cd for your insider information.

  2. ah, speaking as a former extra for the best part of 25 years i can address some of these for you. as far as playing ‘angry birds’, no, they would have to act it as you need to be listening to what is going on and not lost in the world of vexed flying wildlife. doubtlessly they would be using their own ‘equipment’, more than likely… as far as period pieces… well, it happens. i remember filming a piece that was set around 1918 and forgot to take off my pop-swatch (very popular in the late 80s and early 90s). there were around 500 other extras, so it was able to go unnoticed – phew! on another set (on a very popular programme) a fellow extra and i decided to run our own sub-plot in different shots, that flowed quite nicely if you like to watch the background. we met in the street and fell in love, later, we smooched on a car bonnet (all very family friendly, don’t worry), finally he waited for me on the street corner…. i never turned up…. i’m glad you’re watching the background gareth – sometimes it is more entertaining than what’s going on in the foreground!

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