Want to know what it’s like to be an extra in a film, including how to audition? Here are the details from a Birmingham local who spent two days on the set of “Embattled”.
1. It’s An Indie Film About MMA
“Embattled” follows the story of a high school judo prodigy (Darren Mann) who battles his ultimate rival (his father, played by Stephen Dorff) during a mixed martial arts (MMA) bout. The film is being directed by Nick Sarkisov, and it’s his first English-language debut. Sarkisov is from Tbilisi, Georgia. David McKenna (American History X, Get Carter) wrote the screenplay. They’ve been filming in Birmingham since September.
2. The Grind Is Real, But Extra Glorious
Your experience as an extra all depends on the needs of the movie, so you have to be up for an adventure, no matter what. To get the scoop on what it’s like on the “Embattled” set, I spoke with Kristina O’Quinn, a Birmingham photographer and all-around creative mover and shaker.
You may know her as the wife of Birmingham City Councilor Darrell O’Quinn, but we like to think of her as a fellow Bham Nower around here. She writes and takes photos for us on occasion, and we can always count on her zest for fun in Birmingham. Check out her latest Bham Now series that spotlights small businesses.
She told me she wanted to be an extra because she wanted to see how the magic happens.
“The days are at least 12 hours long,” O’Quinn said. “One of the days I was there they asked for a costume change. They give you some guidelines up front, and for us that included bringing changes of clothes.”
The Silent Treatment
Kristina was part of a crowd watching an MMA bout, and she spent her days filming at the Legacy Arena at the BJCC, along with lots of other folks. Her role was right up front, so she saw a lot of what was being filmed. She said that the director would tell the crowd what they were about to see and how to react to it. Then they had to repeat their reactions over and over and over again.
“The weirdest thing about it is not the long hours or anything,” O’Quinn said. “But, being in the crowd and looking around, seeing all these other people pumping their fists and shouting without making any noise.
“They’re clapping, but they’re stopping before they put their hands together. It was surreal. 300 people, jumping up and down, shouting, pumping their fists—all without making a sound!”
O’Quinn did get the opportunity to meet Dorff, the film’s star, when she ran into him at Fiesta, the annual Hispanic cultural festival that’s held at Linn Park. He thanked her for being in the film, and they spoke about the scene(s) they recently shot together.
“Our conversation was something like, ‘Hey! Do you remember the scene where you’re leaving the arena? As people are throwing beer and popcorn at you? The first beer that hits you on the head as you come down the chute—well—I’m on the other side of that. So, every time you got hit, I got hit, too.”
3. There’s Still Time To Audition
If you’re interested in being an extra, you will get paid and fed. O’Quinn said that there are raffles, too and prizes for the extras to encourage them to stay all day (or night). To find out what’s available for extras, follow Extras Casting Birmingham on Facebook.
You can also send a photo and an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. They’ll be filming through November. Film Birmingham is a place to stay connected about what’s filming in Birmingham, too.