Extra, Who Shines a Star

Lee Chanl승인2010.08.31l수정2015.05.11 11:03l300호 5면






“Would you try an extra on a TV drama?” It was a phone call from my friend. I answered “Yes!” Likewise, my first footstep toward being an extra was started simply and ridiculously. You can say that it is very easy to become an extra. However, people who first experience being an extra, tend to give up easily. It means extra work is very hard. Extra, like its own meaning, takes a perfect role of being a background for the star. For that reason, extras can’t get respect and they are used something like film items. So, they get lots of physical and mental stress. Despite these problems, for people who think ‘I really want to try on extra!’, ‘I want to feel the attractiveness of being an extra!’ I want to tell you some stories about my experience about being an extra.

▲ This is a scene of drama Kim Su-Ro. I was pulling a rope behind an actor Ji Sung.

To start an extra

There are lots of companies which collect and manage extras in Korea. Each company has different conditions like pay, charge, entrance fee, and etc. So, you
have to search enough time to choose a company that is fit for you. Next, call the company that you have chosen and visit there! Simply fill out the entrance sheet and answer the question like ‘When can you work for it?’ Now you’re becoming an extra!

Meet at the Yeouido Station

Then, what should we do to participate in an extra work? A manager (a person who gives us work) gives us a call at first. And she or he tells us about the meeting time and place. For example, she or he says “There is a work for a TV drama ‘Kim Su-Ro.’ Come at 11:30p.m, the Yeouido Station exit number 5.” Then, you just have to arrive at the right time. Most of the meeting places are at the
Yeouido Station or near the broadcasting stations in Yeouido. The leader(a person
who leads the extras) gathers extras, checks the number of people, and finally
we are going to get on the bus. And then we’re ready to leave!

Arriving at a set

The first thing to do after arriving at the set is checking the number of people.
Next, the leader gathers extras and divides roles by nobles, commoners and slaves. After sharing roles, we wear the clothes for our own level that we received from a dresser. I was a slave. Of course, I wore dirty and ripped clothes and painted my whole body to be like a dirty slave. I also wore a wig and put a mustache and a beard on my face. It is not difficult. I just had to wait for a staff member to help me to adorn it.

While shooting a drama

Scenes can be different from many kinds of TV dramas. There might be very tough scenes or sometimes there can be very simple scenes. Unfortunately, I was
involved in very difficult scenes even though it was my first go at extra working.
That situation is natural because I took a slave role. I acted for scenes like
walking in line while cuffing my wrists and ankles, being sold by the nobles at a
muddy place, laboring like lifting a log and pulling a rope and carrying some
rocks, screaming because of a burn. Labor scenes were really tough enough to think that it is a real labor. I'm sure that I experienced the real taste of laboring. However, there were not only tough moments but also, a surprising chance to see actors and actresses in front of my eyes. Also, thanks to a leading actor ‘Ji Sung’ who acted a slave just like I did, I saw him very close.

After shooting all of scenes, remain or go home?

After the one day amount of shooting, the leader gathers extras and divides remaining people into leaving people. If you want to remain, you would sleep at Jjimjilbang. And the next day, you will get up early at daybreak and restart the shooting. It’s depending on your freedom. If you want to go home, you would get on the bus, arrive at Yeouido and go home! 

Me, myself insed on TV screen

The scene I cated as an extra at TV dramam 'Kim Su-Ro' was boradcasted just around that weekend. So the drama was on TV too fast that I couldn’t see right away. Later, I saw the scene that I was appeared only ten minutes even though I acted an extra for two days. In that short ten minues, i came out much more than I thought. In the scene I labored, I showed up very shortly that I was the only on that could find me. But, in the scene, I was pulling a rope just behind as actor 'Ji Jung'. I was showed up at the TV screen many times. Seeing an appearance of myself at TV, i felt funny and embarrassed. Because I looke like slave not dressing up that but being born on the TV.

Final stories, I didn't mention

I felt lots of things during working as an extra. That is, this job is not good for
us; university students to work for earning money in short time. After the first experience of extra, I worked for an extra about five times more. I can say an extra working in a word. “It is really, truly, surely hard working.” So, simply think
and just accept an extra as an experience of your life. When you act as an extra,
you can see not only actor and actress but also process of shooting a drama. We will know the fact that two days of acting scenes are only used for ten minutes in TV. Also, we can feel amazed and surprised at searching for me on TV. (I’m going to skip other advantages because there are lots of advantages like those that I mentioned.)

Therefore, extra is an attractive job that is good for your experience. Let’s throw away the thoughts of ‘I’m the background of a star.’ If you are firm about your thoughts like ‘There are no stars if there are any extras,’ I’m convinced that you will feel attractive at a hidden hero, EXTRA.

Lee Chan  dkherald@hotmail.com
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