Being in a Hollywood film: Reactions of local extras on the set of the film “42”
by WILLIAM WRIGHT
May 27, 2012 | 4043 views | 0 0 comments | 50 50 recommendations | email to a friend | print
ESSICA BROWN, co-founder of the casting company Southern Hollywood Events, is inviting more people to come out and enjoy being an extra in Harrison Ford’s latest film, “42,” through June 1. The final days of shooting in Chattanooga is set for June 4 and June 6.
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Cleveland residents were among the crowd of 500 extras featured at Chattanooga’s Historic Engel stadium for the filming of the Hollywood motion picture, “42.”

The latest Harrison Ford film is about Jackie Robinson’s rookie year as the first black baseball player in the major leagues. It also stars Chadwick Boseman as Robinson. The title refers to Robinson’s now-retired uniform number.

Ford plays Brooklyn Dodgers executive Branch Rickey who signed Robinson. The film is directed by Oscar-winning screenwriter Brian Helgeland (L.A. Confidential, Mystic River). Filming at Engel Stadium will continue daily through June 1, with shooting expected to wrap up in Chattanooga on June 6.

Extras are still needed on the set, according to Jessica Brown and Donna Kream, founders of Southern Hollywood Events & the Feature Film “42.” The hotline number to be in the movie is 1-800-913-8563.

All extras are asked to call the day before to get their arrival time, where to park, how to dress and other instructions. There will be raffled prizes given away daily, including iPads, a featured extra role in the film and all-inclusive trips to Jamaica, Cancun and much more before filming is complete.

Mara Grisham of Cleveland became the first prize winner when her name was picked in the very first raffle giveaway on May 21. Grisham, a reading interventionist at Stuart Elementary School, said she read about becoming an extra in the film in the newspaper and also heard about it on the radio. She won an Apple iPod Shuffle, the world’s smallest digital music player which allows you to wear your favorite songs on your belt, sleeve, lapel — anywhere.

“You can play all of your MP3 and your downloaded tracks on it,” Brown said. “It’s like a mini iPod. You can make your own playlist.”

Grisham said being the first winner of the day was “surprising” and added, “It makes me want to come back all the rest of the days. It’s been great so far. I’ve had a wonderful time. It’s been just lovely.”

Other giveaways included two tickets to the Chattanooga Zoo and iPads each day. Upcoming giveaways will feature all-inclusive trips to Jamaica, Cancun and more.

Ernie Malik, media relations director, said, “We have two banks of extras. We have people who were paid and we have the promotional ones. The difference is that we’re giving away prizes to the promotional extras because they’re giving us their time for nothing. We have all sorts of exciting prizes.”

According to Malik, everyone gets a “coupon” when they walk in and every 42nd person gets “a little something extra.”

“They’re also auditioning some of the extras to possibly sing the National Anthem in the movie on camera,” Malik said.

“Every time I’ve done a sports movie and I’ve done several — mostly football — you have a bank of extras who you’ve paid for the whole day. They are in your employ. But the promotional extras — you can entice them to stay, but we can’t make them stay. In order to keep them around we try to make it fun. We feed them. We give away some big ticket items.”

Malik said the shoot has gone very well so far with very little weather interruptions, but added, “We don’t ever shut down for bad weather. We have to have an alternative. We call it a ‘cover set.’ If they can do something in the stands they’ll do something under the overhang.”

Brown added, “We want to make this a fun event. We thank the people for coming out and donating their time. If anyone shows up with an extra person, we give them 10 extra tickets for every additional person, which increases their chances of winning those extra prizes.”

Having a well-know wardrobe stylist from L.A. to work with the extras for that “authentic look” in 1947, was very important to the cast and crew, Brown said.

“That means no bright reds, bright white, bright yellows or crazy patterns are accepted in dress attire,” she explained. “We’re looking for muted, more earth tones — taupe, greys, blacks, navys and tans — that sort of thing. Conservative is always best if you’re an extra on the set.”

Keith Staggs of Decatur made his feature film debut on the set of “42” and was seen on WDEF News Channel 12 in 1940s attire.

Afterward Staggs said, “It is really exciting to be part of this great movie, ‘42.’ It’s fun being right there to watch this hollywood movie come alive. I love being right there in the action. I have met some of the production team and they are really nice. I would love to do this again if the opportunity presents itself.”

Anita Gaddy is also making her background performers’ debut as an extra in “42.” She said she saw a request on the Internet for some extras and thought it would be great fun.

“It has been!” she said enthusiastically. “It’s wonderful — very interesting. All the costumes are great and the staff has been wonderful.”

Sisters April and Melanie Kent from Lookout Mountain, Ga., said this is their first time being extras in a film. Their father drove them on the set.

“We’re really excited,” said April, 21, and Melanie, 19. “These are our respective grandparents clothes,” Melanie added. “I’m wearing my grandmother’s hat and her wedding suit. She got married in this.”

Jodi Williams, with Southern Hollywood Events, said being in the film promises to be an amazingly fun time and anyone who wants to be an extra in the movie is still welcome to call the hotline number or visit www.beinthemovie42.com to register.

“It’s a totally free event, it’s fun and extras will be entered to win amazing raffle prizes,” Williams said. “Students, moms, dads, grandparents, grandkids — are all welcome. We need extras of all shapes, sizes and ages. Movies can’t be made without people in them. They create atmosphere and background in every movie made. That’s why we need everyone to come out and be a part of this amazing film.”

In the meantime, hundreds of inflatable figures dressed as fans are used to fill the seats, but real extras are preferred, according to the staff. Being involved in a film is a wonderful experience, according to Malik, who does three movies a year and explained his personal enjoyment for working in motion pictures.

“Some people go to the same office or factory for their entire life,” he said. “But three times a year I have a job in a different location with a different script, a different story — with a different group of people, although you may see people you’ve worked with before. The variety of that is still interesting to me. I enjoy my work.”

The movie is scheduled for release on April 12, 2013, to coincide with major league baseball’s “Jackie Robinson Day,” held every April 15 to commemorate the date when Robinson broke the color barrier by playing with the Brooklyn Dodgers.