The Lowe Down: Being “Extra”

By: Grace Lowe

Something I’ve always been interested in is film and acting, but it wasn’t anything I thought I’d pursue and if I did, I’d have to wait until I could move somewhere like California or New York. I was skeptical of production companies that filmed in less mainstream areas. However, this summer I was able to work on a set as an extra without traveling at all. I was surprised to find that the entertainment industry, being only on the coasts, is an outdated idea.

Munfordville Middle School isn’t a place you would expect to see large production companies set up to film. When I spent eight hours one afternoon working as an extra and observing “hipster” directors working with hundreds of people who had never been around this fast paced entertainment lifestyle. The whole time I wondered why they would move out to a random town in Kentucky to film with severely inexperienced actors. After a very shallow Google search, I quickly found that there are great production tax incentives for moving out of Southern California to film and that seemed to be the main reason for things like the Southern Kentucky Film Commission popping up recently.

This led me to wonder why movie and television production companies were so deeply rooted in Southern California to begin with. In the early 1900s as film and photography were becoming more accessible Thomas Edison had a patent on his cameras that was difficult to obtain therefore pushing many filmmakers to run off into the hills of California to evade being forced to buy his cameras.

The director of the most recent movie filmed in this area, Mail Order Monster, Paulina Lagudi said, “Coming from LA,[and] making a film in KY is very different, in a good way. The scenery is unique and breathtaking, but it’s the KY people’s hospitality that makes the KY moviemaking experience one to come back to.”
Through all of this research, I decided film in small towns was innovative and I became less critical of movies that weren’t filmed in a traditional manner and I decided to go to an open casting call in Cave City. The convention center was packed with small town kids only hoping to get to read sides for supporting roles and be chosen for the absolute least glamorous roles possible. As it turned out, most anyone and everyone with a clean shirt would end up getting a role as an extra. Nonetheless, I was excited when I received a call asking me to be an extra. Being on set was quite the experience regardless of my location.