3 things to know about being an extra in the movie ‘Embattled’ that’s filming in Birmingham, including how you can do it, too

Birmingham resident Kristina O’Quinn shakes hands with Stephen Dorff, who is starring in the film. Photo via Kristina O’Quinn

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

From top left: Actors Darren Mann, Elizabeth Reaser, Karreuche Tran and Saïd Taghmaoui are also in the film. Photo via Shutterstock/Deadline

“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

Veteran actor and Atlanta native Stephen Dorff talking with Kristina O’Quinn at Fiesta, the Hispanic cultural festival at Linn Park. Photo via Kristina O’Quinn

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.

Birmingham AL
Kristina O’Quinn with some of the Bham Now Crew at the Pizitz Food Hall . Photo by Kristina O’Quinn

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.


Kristina O’Quinn

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.

Here’s a peek of what it’s like being a face in the crowd for the movie “Embattled: Photo via Kristina O’Quinn

“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 embattledextras@gmail.com. They’ll be filming through November. Film Birmingham is a place to stay connected about what’s filming in Birmingham, too.