On September 15, 2011

EXTRAS


So I’ve been pretty swamped this week and haven’t had much time to write. Next week I plan on starting a new blog series for a few weeks about Jesus and celebrations but for this week I’d like to share this.

This is a video that we showed at Highland a few weeks ago as we kicked off the new series EXTRAS. I read an article last year about the myriad of people who are in front of the cameras but behind the scenes in all of your favorite films and TV Shows. Most of them will never get discovered, they work hard and are paid little. And the question that kept coming back to me was…”Why? Why would anyone do this?”

So that’s what I went to find out. I’ll write more about my experience after I get further along in the series at Highland, but I will say this. I will never read the Bible the same way. There are hundred of tiny characters in the Holy plot of the Scriptures who just show up for a sentence or two and faithfully play their role to advance the story. They never knew how or if they would be remembered, but the story couldn’t go on without them.

I’d also like to point out that I am doing this series with one of my best friends in ministry Josh Graves, and that experience alone has been worth everything. There is something about having someone studying and praying and writing and dreaming together that makes ministry and its fruit so much richer. I don’t ever want to do a series again by myself.

Sometime in July, we asked Caleb Todd, a former student and current professional EXTRA in New York to describe why he did what he does, and he gave one of the best descriptions I could ask for of this profession and their dreams. I hope you see yourself in this paragraph. May you come to know you are appropriately small, and may you come to accept and flourish as a minor character.

The extras are the backbone in production. Our job is to fill the scene, create ambiance, provide a struggle for the Principals (main actors) and so on. We provide a world full of interest that, without us, would be extremely bland and we know this and . . . we use it to our advantage when necessary.

The payoff is mostly very little. You stand out in the cold all day in the street while arching your head way up at the top of a building where, supposedly, Sam Worthington is going to jump off (Man On a Ledge). Youget a boxed lunch, you wait in line for 2 hours to get your papers signed, and then see you only made $150 that day. Not worth it, no payoff. Then another day you’re with Will Smith or Steve Buscemi and eating a feast and making good money. I think, deep down, what makes me do it is the continual appreciation for my craft and everything that goes into it.

I’ve worked so hard to get to where I am and I had no clue what the other side of the industry is. So, for me, I figured I would venture out on my own ledge and try it. Whether it’s Movies or Tv or Theatre, people depend on these things to get them through hardtimes or to pick them up and it’s this give and take of acting that makes it work it. Knowing that I may or may not be seen doesn’t stop me because I know I am part of the bigger picture. Whatever the experience, I know I am at least working and trying to make something of my life. It’s been incredibly eye opening which is the greatest payoff. Story telling is such an ancient art and it’s important that we continue to do so. All artists are story tellers and a story cannot be told simply by its main characters. You have to have the best friend, or the crazy co worker, or the dreaded in laws to really grasp the whole picture. One of my favorite painters is Georges Seurat and he’s most famous for his painting A Sunday Afternoon on the Isle of LaGrande Jatte. He was a pointillist painter and his huge piece of art depicting this park full of people is made up simply of tiny dots. The painting as a whole is really beautiful, but to move in closer and look at the intricate display of colored dots create the actual picture is nearly breathtaking. I love and live . . . to be that dot.”

-Caleb Todd

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  • Maynard

    I liked your self-description, very handsome guy.  Nice quote, too, from Caleb Todd.