When students are at the movies watching “The Visiting,” being filmed on campus this month, they might not only see Nicole Kidman, but also some of their fellow students.
More than a dozen students have been cast as extras for the filming of the science fiction movie starring Kidman, said junior Adam Linet, who was cast as an extra. Kidman plays Carol, a D.C. psychiatrist who discovers the origin of an alien epidemic.
While some students have a positive preconceived notion of making an appearance in a major motion picture, sophomore Alex Tatum, who was hired to be an extra last week, said the work was not as glamorous as expected.
“Extras are just bodies,” Tatum said after 10 hours of filming on 23rd Street Tuesday. “You have to hurry up and get ready, get into your position, and then you have to stand there and wait.”
Senior Laura Feder will be filming with the crew of “The Visiting” this week and said even if she is just an extra, she’s excited to be in the film.
“This is my dream,” said Feder, who will earn a theater minor in May. “Even though I’m only an extra, this will bring me one step closer.”
Feder said scores of GW students applied to be extras by going to a casting call, getting a head shot and then waiting for a return phone call weeks later.
Tatum, a sophomore member of the student drama club Generic Theatre Company, said inclement weather Tuesday may have contributed to the less-than-stellar experience. She said being an extra requires a great deal of patience.
“They paid us to just stand there and exist,” Tatum said. “They filmed the scene for about 10 hours, and they probably only got about 10 seconds of footage.”
Extra acting does not necessarily mean schmoozing with the Hollywood stars either, Tatum learned.
“The guy standing next to me accidentally bumped into Nicole Kidman,” Tatum said of her closest encounter with the actress.
Even though extras do not have a major role in a given movie, Alice Ellis, president of Alice Ellis Casting Agency, said extras are cast to specific requirements.
“If we were filming a beer commercial, we would hire different extras than we would hire for a Mylanta commercial,” said Ellis, who is head of the Los Angeles-based casting agency.
Ellis said some productions may seek “rocker-type” males between the ages of 20 and 25, and some may seek elderly women, depending on what the filming is for.
Extras are not paid the big bucks like their on-screen Hollywood partners either. Ellis said extras who are members of the Screen Actors Guild, an actors labor union, have a minimum wage of $36.50 an hour, but non-SAG extras are paid “much less.”
“I don’t know exactly how much the pay will be, but I have a feeling it’s close to minimum wage,” said sophomore Ben Casper, who also attended Tuesday’s filming session.
The rainy weather seemed to dampen not only the ground, but the spirits of the extras as well.
“It was a lot of waiting in the rain and doing nothing,” Casper said. “After seven hours of freezing my butt off, they sent me home.”
Casper will be filming with other hired GW students Nov. 9 and 10 at various D.C. locations.