View Full Version : Extras question

Jim Brennan
01-05-2005, 02:15 PM
I'll be doing a shoot at the end of the month (hopefully) that will involve a number of extras. The scenes that I am most concerned about take place in a bar. The location I have is great. It's the back room of a club that they only use for live bands on Fri and Sat nights. We plan to shoot on a Sunday. Anyway, I am not sure how to direct the extras. I plan to get some help from an AD so I don't have to worry about it too much on the set. I was going to situate them in groups or pairs (depending on the needs of the scene) and tell them to basically stay in the same spot for continuity purposes. I was going to tell them to converse normally (or at least appear to). I am concerned about the audio. Should I have the whisper? Not talk at all? The place is a good size and acoustically pretty dead due to the nature of the venue. Anyway, any insights would be appreciated. Thanks.

01-05-2005, 02:19 PM
My limited experience with group shots is this: if you're dealing with real people and not actors...it's best to tell them to talk as quiet as possible...litterally, as quiet as they possibly can. Often times this makes them struggle to hear each other and actually pay attention to each other rather then where the camera is.

Often times, if you tell people to "mouth" the words, or talk but make no sound...you'll get a whole bunch of people over-emoting to each other and gesturing when unnessecary.

This only works if you can mic your talent as close as possible, so that the background noise is reduced.

Watch out for people that might steal the scene. Nothing is more annoying then an extra that is more interesting to watch then the actor.

01-05-2005, 04:55 PM
What kind of bar? You may want to get the strippers out of the frame...

Nothing is more annoying then an extra that is more interesting to watch then the actor

Hey, best of luck!

01-05-2005, 10:44 PM
Also a problem is that extras alot of times when they're younger are more likely to bust out laughing when mouthing words to eachother. For some reason they seem to think the joke they can't hear is funny.

01-06-2005, 05:10 AM
first, i would book twice as many as you need as half usually bail at the last minute.

have them just mouth the words. i had a scene with a telemarketer group and wrote up little things for them to say (dialogue for 4 phone calls). I first had them mouth it without talking. Then i recorded a scratch track of them reading - i had one start on the first, another on the second, another on the third, and had them read them in a loop for a few minutes. This gave me clear audio on my actors with a background track that can be mixed to my liking. I would avoid having them whisper. If your mics pick it up it will be distracting.

01-06-2005, 05:38 AM
watermelon watermelon watermelon velocipede watermelon velocipede sasquatch spondee...

That's all the extras need to be saying. :)

Jim Brennan
01-06-2005, 08:44 AM
Great tips. I think one of the things I'll do (which will also help with a shallow DOF), is to put as much distance as possible between the principals and the extras. I'll be adding some ambient noise and background music as well, which should help.

01-07-2005, 08:47 AM
Singers don't actually sing in a shot. Musicians don't actually play during a shot. And extras don't actually talk during a shot. The background noise will be overwhelming if all are talking at the same time, even at a whisper, which could mean some ADR for you. GenJerDan had a great suggestion, except I would add they should be mouthing the words, not saying them.

01-07-2005, 09:05 AM
Singers don't actually sing in a shot. *Musicians don't actually play during a shot. *And extras don't actually talk during a shot. * The background noise will be overwhelming. . .

Little story: when my bud was making Taps, they spent 2 weeks teaching him how to drive a jeep. (He never drove a stick before) Practice, practice, practice.

Comes the shoot and..."damn...the engine is just too loud, guys. We'll attach a rope and tow the jeep, instead."

Yep. All that stuff you hear in the movies? It's not there during the shoot.

Well, at least he learned how to drive a stick. ;D


01-09-2005, 04:27 AM
Lecture, lecture, lecture your extras to NOT look in the direction of
the camera (especially if it's their first shoot)

I know this sounds TERRIBLY redundant, but I had umpteen shots
BLOWN by one wedding guest in 'La Sposa' that continually fixed her
eyes into the camera lens from the background.

Sometimes it's the little things that will kill you.