You Get Paid to Wait at Shawshank


When I tell folks I was an extra, most of them ask: Can I see you on screen?  The answer: SURE, kinda, not really. But I was on set, I know it’s me when I watch the film and it was a great experience.

The first thing about being in the movie was I had to get up very early — I think it was 3:30 a.m., to drive to Mansfield, Ohio, to a parking lot. In the parking lot were trailers where I changed into my costume and waited. Then a van took about 15 of us to the first filming location where we sat and waited under a sunshade.

Funny little tidbit: When they filmed that movie it was hot. VERY hot, and VERY humid. What’s neat is when you watch that movie, there are a couple “cold weather” scenes that they shot outdoors … and I don’t know how they did it, but it always *looks* cold. But it wasn’t. Trust me. 

Anyway, we were sitting on a little hill and at the bottom of the hill was an old grocery store that’d be closed forever. We didn’t know it at the time, but the scene that was being filmed was when Brooks, the inmate who got released, worked in the grocery store.

What we did know is that, after we’d sat there for a few hours, a limousine pulled up and an African-American woman and kids got out and walked in. “Who are they?” We thought.  “Are they famous?” We wondered.

Then after a long time, we went to lunch. And this was my first experience with unions. In our lecture, we were told that you, as an extra, can’t eat in the union area, talk to a union member, etc … and I didn’t think anything of it. Then a woman, waiting in our line to get her food, meandered over toward the union area and — crime of all crimes — Touched. A. Bottle. Of. Salad. Dressing that was meant for union members.

A union member flew out of the line, took the bottle out of her hand, lectured her almost to the point of making the woman cry, and pointed her back to her line. 

So lunch was great. I think I had a ham sandwich on white. 

But the biggest thing I remember is how some extras just looked amazing. Their costumes fit perfectly, their haircuts suited them … it all just worked. (My costume … fit. That was about all I could say about it.)

My little group of 15 had formed a bond during our wait at the grocery store and two people  — a man and a woman — really looked fantastic. They just looked like they “belonged” in the movie. The man actually has a part where he’s walking through a square while James Whitmore, the actor who played Brooks is, and he looks amazing. Nice guy, too.  

The woman ended up in “my” scene, walking up a street with her back to the camera. To this day, I believe it’s because she was — no kidding, just an honest opinion — the most beautiful woman, with the prettiest face, that I had seen … and they didn’t want to put her on camera to distract from the stars. 

But, that’s for later. After lunch, we split up. The good-looking guy was taken away (we didn’t know where, but it was the square) .. and we all went to sit on top of another hill, under another sunshade.

Next up: My Star Turn. 

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  1. Addiction Is A Choice Member
    Addiction Is A Choice

    Totally diggin’ this series!

    • #1
  2. Ekosj Member

    For years I worked in Brooklyn across the street from the Old Williamsburg Bank building and it’s iconic interior that shows up in lots of TV and cinema.
    Every few weeks there would be someone filming something in the neighborhood.   Beside the actors, it seemed that there were dozens and dozens of people involved, but very few seemed to be doing anything.    The camera, lighting and sound folks were working.   But most of the staff seemed like their only job was  standing around with radios clipped to their belts while eating Chinese food out of cardboard containers.   Hey.   I like Chinese food.    I can hang out.   How do I get one of those gigs?

    • #2
  3. BillJackson Coolidge

    Addiction Is A Choice (View Comment):

    Totally diggin’ this series!

    Thank you!

    • #3
  4. Charlotte Member

    Addiction Is A Choice (View Comment):

    Totally diggin’ this series!

    Same! Lots of fun.

    Aren’t people like the salad dressing enforcer kind of… embarrassed to do stuff like that? Sheesh.

    • #4
  5. Randy Weivoda Moderator
    Randy Weivoda

    Charlotte (View Comment):

    Addiction Is A Choice (View Comment):

    Totally diggin’ this series!

    Same! Lots of fun.

    Aren’t people like the salad dressing enforcer kind of… embarrassed to do stuff like that? Sheesh.

    No.  There are people who live to put other people in their place.  Nothing gives them greater satisfaction than catching another person making a mistake.

    • #5