Autumn makes me feel nostalgic, thinking about all the characters that I’ve dressed up to be for Halloween, fall plays, musicals, madrigals and otherwise. Once, I wore a saucer sled on my back to become turtle. Another time, I stuffed a pillow up a nightshirt to become the pregnant wife of a 9/11 firefighter. I’ve worn a wedding dress to became a bride… twice.
Not many people know about that one time I made my big screen debut, fresh out of high school, in a real movie, as an extra, wearing elf ears.
…and I don’t exactly remember how it came to be. Somehow, I got wind from the classifieds, Craigslist or some desolate radio station, that there was a demand for movie extras who were to be dressed in Halloween costumes, ages 18-25 who like to party and/or “look like they’re having a good time.” Naturally, I fit the bill and recruited my new, outgoing and equally naive friend to star in this movie with me.
The gig was that weekend, so we had little time to prepare but she had matching fairy costumes and I was up for anything. So after driving almost two hours on that frosty Saturday morning through drizzling rain and an eerie fog, we arrived in the middle of nowhere on the movie set- which, to our amusement, was inside of a gigantic dilapidated barn with a massive gambrel style roof. At this point, I couldn’t even fathom a way less glamorous to “get discovered,” until I walked inside…
We were greeted with a lengthy Actor Release and Assumption of Risk Form. “I (insert name here) voluntarily agree,” sign here. “Acknowledge the risks […] hereby grant […] use my name, image and likeness […] in all forms […] for all lawful purposes […] but not limited to,” sign here, here and here.
At this point, my friend and I assessed the situation. We were out in the middle of nowhere, inside a barn that looked like it was going to collapse at any second, with strangers asking us to sign some shady waiver. What would you do? We couldn’t sign the document fast enough.
Next, we were ushered to the “holding room,” which was really just one drafty corner of the barn sectioned off for us street rats looking for our big break. For about 99% of the 8-hour day, we hung out in some other dimension of Holding Room Hell but the other 1% was thrilling! We walked into a night club scene about seven or eight times after, “lights, camera, action,” instructed to, stand here, walk there or not swing our arms as much. (That last direction was just for me.) Which was really too bad, because I had done some pretty elaborate character development in the outhouse while waiting to go on. I was portraying a really cool socialite, wearing some really cool elf ears, arriving at this really cool party, to meet a really cool guy or something.
We have no idea what became of the footage or if the movie even came to fruition. For all that we know, it was the introduction to a pornographic independent film. But at 18, you’re not going to want to pass up the rare and exciting opportunity to sign your rights away and become an extra in a movie. Certainly not! I did that one time, wearing elf ears.