Movies were my way of coping with the solitude of being an only child. By the age of 10, I had memorized every line of every raunchy 80’s movie. As destiny would have it, I went on to marry a movie man. Without him, I probably would have never made the decision to be a movie extra.
My husband’s desire to be a screenwriter morphed into a yearning to be a famous Hollywood writer/director. We found a great deal on Craigslist for a Panasonic dvx 100b. It wasn’t long before we were handing over our “hard earned” audience money to a shady guy in a Burger King parking lot for a camera we knew nothing about.
After a few days of tinkering with the controls, ChadO felt he was ready to shoot his first movie on the Panasonic. He developed this idea about two children who meet at the park, and at the fault of self-centered parents, only one makes it home alive. Without money, he wasn’t able to hold castings sessions like he did with his first short. Instead, the parts would be played by our children, and the two of us would be parental extras.
On the day of the shoot, we arrived at the park, happy to see no one else there. While ChadO set up the shot on the Panasonic, the kids and I unloaded the other two mini cameras and sound equipment from the Nissan. By the time we were finished unloading, our faces had turned blue, and our hands were shaking from the cold. We piled into the car to warm up and go over the shot list.
With the camera focused on the lonely child on the playground, I was the stubborn mom in the background, intent on reading the diary of the making of Kill Bill by David Carradine. Not long after we arrived, a van full of church children arrived at the park. Many became very curious about the camera’s presence, which made it difficult for me to do anything but pretend to read. I don’t know if it was that the glitz of my book-reading became boring, or if it was the children’s acclimation to film production being an every day event in California, but they quickly lost interest and went on to play as if I wasn’t there. The cold air ripped across the snowcapped San Bernadino mountains, sending a coldness through my body that I thought would never leave.
That little movie made it onto IMDB, and is among one of the many forgotten movies available for purchase on Amazon. Even as background in a short film, my character experienced a life-changing moment, from selfish parenting to achieving exactly what she always wanted. To be left alone. I never wanted to be a movie extra, but I enjoyed helping my husband learn about his camera, while spending quality time with the kids.
From what it lacked in script, planning, and budget, the film is s proof that my husband can make something out of nothing.