What’s in a Title? – II

“Only in Hollywood would the title “Best Boy” be given to an experienced and highly skilled technician.”

-Someone who’s name I can’t recall.  Terry Pratchett, maybe?

There’s a common title in Hollywood that I’ve always disliked.  (Well, there’s two; I’ve already complained about “talent.”)

“Extras.”  It’s so demeaning.  They’re already getting paid less than PAs to basically be set dressing.  They’re forced to sit in holding pens like animals.  Their job is mind-numbingly dull, and pretty much everyone on the crew assumes they’re morons, or thieves, or both.  (They often are, but that’s beside the point.)

Do we have to call them “extra,” too?  At a certain point, an AD told me not to call them “extras” at all, but rather “background actors.”  That seems more fair, to me.  At least it’s acknowledging that they do something.

Some might say this is pretentious, elevating their position to “acting.”  But then again, I don’t really consider acting to be that impressive, so I’m okay with that.  🙂

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12 Responses

  1. The term “extras” has been eliminated per the SAG contract – I think there was a memo sent out a while ago. We are to refer to them as “background actors”. I prefer “scenery that eats”. They can be very annoying but I do see some of the best names amongst the vouchers… De De Troit? Angelic Ho? Really…

  2. Sorry I missed your “DP.” link, I’m still rolling on the ground after (sorry) coming across the part about “sometimes called making her airtight”.

    Even though the term extra really applies, with extra meaning “more than you really need to do something”, I still vote for the use of atmosphere, as in “the best of the craft service stuff just evaporated into the atmosphere”.

  3. Yeah, that was the joke. Click the link. It’s called “meta text.”

  4. Are you aware that the term “DP” has more than one meaning? at least when you’re on an adult (some might still say porno) film set.

    It means you’re in the dual penetration zone if you don’t have a camera in your hand.

    Maybe even then, if it’s a P.O.V. shoot.

    And extras? Try “atmosphere” for a bland group name for them.

  5. Well I’m on record as basically thinking of extras as the bane of my existence. Really, their goal in life is to add work to my day. I couldn’t care less what they’re called (but I usually say background).

    I once had a woman ask me where she was supposed to park — picture Lovey Howell on Gilligan’s Island in a Mercedes — and when I asked her if she was one of the extras, she replied, “I am a BACKGROUND ARTIST“!

  6. It’s often truncated to simply “background,” as in “Action, background!”

    I don’t mind that; it’s no more demeaning than abbreviating “director of photography” to “DP.”

    1. I’ve always heard BG…but maybe that’s an east coast deal? I had my head put on a spit by some angry BG and learned quick! It wasn’t meant as an insult, but I never used “extra” beyond my first day as a PA

  7. i never really thought about it but “extras” suggests they aren’t necessary as in “i have an extra pair of shoes.” i have all the shoes i need but these are backup shoes but not as important as the ones i am wearing.

    “background actors” is too long. i am going to start calling them “bactors.”

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