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Members of film crew on Pont des Arts, Paris

When I bumped into this Paris film crew a while ago, I remembered my ‘adventures’ as an extra, some 10 years back, while at university. No, I have never ever aspired to become an actress nor have I ever wanted to become famous  – I only did it for the money;)

Easy Extra money

And, let me tell you, it was very easy to make a few extra bucks by simply sitting in a bus, walking by a store, hanging out at the bar or the like. And, yeah, there was free catering as well and the occasional opportunity to have a chat with a B-list celebrity over lunch.

We were all talent-free

As an MA student with a limited budget, I was lucky to actually live in an area of my city which provided for a popular location for cheesy television series  – so whenever my flat-mates and I spotted the film crews in town we stopped by and offered our services as incredibly talented extras. Needless to say, we were all talent-free, never spoke a word on camera, and usually only appeared as part of the blurry background scenery. However, being an extra was so much less stressful than working as a waitress or delivering pizza. Usually it involved about three to four hours waiting time and 35 seconds of action (‘action’ as in sitting at the bar) for about 100 USD + free lunch. Not too bad.

The Business of ‘Art’

The ‘second-row’ film people (such as the people in the photograph above) always came across as somewhat stressed and borderline-frustrated, despite being cognizant of their elevated position as members of the CREW. Their apparent frustration struck me as rather understandable given the quality of the series. Who knows … they might have started out with the dream of making art and ended up producing semi-intelligent soap operas. I never took their grumpiness personally and really enjoyed those occasional breaks in between my lectures and seminars.

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