My wife and I were fortunate enough to be invited as extras for the film “The Legend of Hell’s Gate: An American Conspiracy” in Granbury Sunday.
It was an eye-opening experience to say the least.
First, one sometimes hears about the arrogance of those in the movie business. I can’t speak about others, but this group of people, from the producers, directors, cast, crew, extras – everyone – was extremely nice at all times. They treated everyone with friendliness, courtesy and professionalism. It didn’t matter that we were there only for one day, it didn’t matter that we weren’t professional actors, just a couple of locals that were invited to join. It made an extremely long day much more bearable.
We arrived at 8 a.m. and waited and waited and waited. Finally we were sent to wardrobe where we waited and waited and waited. Once it was our turn, it only took a few minutes as those handing out costumes knew where everything was and what was needed.
From there, we headed to the set. There were minutes of filming followed by hours of waiting for our next scene. It wasn’t that the crew was disorganized, it was that it took so much time to set up shots – lights, reflectors, the director’s instructions, a rehearsal or two, adjustments – getting everything just right.
Then there would be more than one take and everyone went back to the start and did it all again – perhaps three or four times. A lot like taking photos for the newspaper – an insurance shot to make sure they got the right angles and the best action.
But perhaps the most amazing thing about the day was the fact that the scenes were not shot in the same sequence they would likely be shown on the screen. A piece here, another there, then go back and do another scene. It changes one’s perspective on what it takes to make a movie and the reason they are so expensive.
Tanner Beard, who wrote the script, has a role in and directs the movie, never raised his voice and never lost his cool while all around him there appeared to be chaos as assistant directors called for this scene or that or went to prepare for the next one.
Next will come the editing. The music, sound and putting the pieces into a cohesive and complete motion picture. That will take several months.
It was interesting, it was in many ways a lot of fun, but it was a 10-plus hour day. My wife and I had been on our feet almost all day – we hurt, we had trouble walking and we still had to return home. As for the cast and crew, they only had to drive to the local motels – but they had to plan for the following day and there would be another 14-hour day, and another and another.
It gives a whole new perspective to actors and crew members who spend their lives making movies. I came away with a whole new respect for those who entertain us.