I'm the dark red blur in the lower right
So I just spent 8 days hanging out with Brad Pitt, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, and Jonah Hill on the set of Moneyball at the Oakland Coliseum. Once again I was unable to come on board as a PA or other crew, so I settled for being an extra.
Have to admit, I had some trepidation about getting the job, as they were only hiring roughly 150 paid extras (they would rely on volunteers for the fans in the stands) and all my previous extra gigs were on large shoots with 200+ extras. But not only did I land this, they put me in a select group of 15 or so to play members of the press. And to preserve continuity, we press folks got to be there for 8 out of the 10 days of filming.
So they had me play a camera operator right down there on the field. It was a BLAST. They stuck me in this far off corner on the 3rd plate side of the Oakland A's dugout, and they almost never shot in my direction, which meant I chilled and hung out with my fellow extras. Met some really cool folks. One guy, an actual journalist, who found out about the casting through an intercompany memo, even got bumped to a speaking role and got to play a journalist interviewing PSH. It's always hilarious when some guy who has never done extra work before and has no lofty ambitions to act, gets bumped, because you know there are about 50 other "serious career actors" doing background who are just PISSED that some noob came waltzing in and succeeded without trying. C'est la vie.
I even got to chat with the crew, most of whom were very genial. I had the pleasure of speaking with 2 PAs, 3 grips, 2 set designers, 1 wardrobe supervisor, 1 prop master, and 1 legendary stunt coordinator. Most were very open about how to get in the business, or at least how they did it - serendipitous stories of how they fell into this industry in the years before the recession ("Well, I saw a newspaper ad in the dumpster, and I was the only person who applied, so..."). But speaking to one of the PAs who was closer to my age, it seems what I need to do to land a job in film these days, instead of going pro bono on all these indies and shorts, which are generally hit and miss, is get an internship with an established production company. I'm gonna take some classes this fall at a community college so I can qualify for student internships. I've already shot one resume out.