Rumblings of the new Batman movie, "The Dark Knight Rises", have been frequent around the Pittsburgh area in the last few months, though the anticipation has far outshone any actual information on filming, at least to me, before earlier today when I learned that the Warner Bros. tentpole will be filming on Saturday, August 6th at Heinz Field, home of the Pittsburgh Steelers. I found out about this from the website of the Pittsburgh Film Office, which posted this casting notice and a link to this website.
This is set up to be a scene with thousands of extras, which will be a pretty big undertaking on the part of the movie crew. I'm a little surprised that this will be filming at Heinz field, which is a fairly recognizable stadium - when I first heard about this, I thought this scene might take place indoors at the nearby Consol Arena, home of the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Arena Football League team, the Pittsburgh Power. It seems that they're going big for this scene, though, and that's just fine with me. We're told to expect special effects of the explosion variety, which will be a interesting to see.
While I am absolutely excited to sign up for this and get a chance to be in this scene, what stood out to me most was just how awful the "Be in a Movie" website really is. The pictures I'm posting up here are all screenshots from the website. If you take a few seconds to read some of the actual text that appears on this site, I think you'll see what I'm talking about.
Beyond looking like a high school PowerPoint presentation, a lot the information on this site is exactly what gives people the wrong impression about what being an extra is like. That is to say, when people first show up to be an extra on a show or movie, it's not uncommon for that person to expect a party. My best response to that mentality is this: even production scenes that are supposed to take place at a party are not like a party. Or maybe they're like the worst party you've ever been to. My point is, being an extra is tedious work over unreasonably long hours. It can be fun, but it's not the type of fun that this website seems to be promising.
Just look at the abundance of exclamation points and unnecessary capitalization. The picture at top starts simply with "YES!!!". The next has one line that just says "WOW!", followed by the pseudo sentence "This will be an action packed unbelievable fun day of Movie Making Experiences You'll Never Forget". In the photo directly above, you'll see that as part of appearing on set, everyone will receive a more than 30 page booklet on how to become a paid extra. Thirty pages?! Here, free of charge, I'll tell you how to become a paid extra in one sentence: SHOW UP AT THE DAMN SET WHEN A MOVIE NEEDS EXTRAS. Oops, now I'm using too many caps.
This next screenshot might be my favorite, because beyond promising to send "drivnig" directions (and improperly using "you're"...my goodness, people), the site gives you a preview of how popular you will become by being an extra in this movie. Under the heading "Here's Some Things People Will Say After We've Made This Movie With You!", the following conversation questions are posited: "You really got to hang out on the set with all those stars?" The answer is supposedly "Yup!", even though I will guarantee absolutely zero extras will get to hang out with Batman or any other main actor. The next question you're sure to hear is "Hey! I saw you in that film. Way cool. Was it fun?" Again, the answer is sure to be a dopey "Yup!" In reality, there is no chance that you'll be seen other than for a picosecond in a blurry pan across the field.
My goodness, I'm full of vitriol tonight. I guess I'm a little miffed at the fact that this website is going to mislead thousands of people about this opportunity to be an extra in what is sure to be a cool scene and a great movie. Though this scene may be the closest thing anyone will ever get to having a party during the filming of a movie, it will most certainly not be a party. It will be lots of waiting around for setting up, shooting, re-shooting, re-shooting again, re-shooting a dozen more times, moving equipment, rehearsing, rehearsing with stand-ins, rehearsing with principle actors, rehearsing with sound, rehearsing without sound, shooting, re-shooting again...you get the point. This is going to take all day and there will be a hours and hours of downtime.
In case anyone's wondering, HECK YES I will be doing this. It's the Batman movie, and it's filming in Pittsburgh! How could I stay away? Man, I think I've been too hard on this whole process and this website. Look at me, getting all worked up over nothing. Oh, there's one more picture from the website, I wonder what it --
"Where did you here about this"? Where did you HERE about this?! HERE?!? ARE YOU KIDDING ME>!?!1?! Holy crap.