An extra at the Houston FNL set, who wishes to remain anonymous, emailed a very interesting report. We've already heard about Peter Berg and 2nd assistant director Dave, so here's another take.
Love the site. I took my son down to be an extra for the Houston shoot and ended up working as an extra myself for a week. What a great time! I can tell you nothing improper went on within the Permian extra group. Everyone seemed to get there on time; appropriate lunch breaks; and did everything expected, etc.
There were hundreds of extras a day in the Dome, and they had "wrappered" foods available for us all day long. I would say things were pretty clean considering that. Extras seemed to take photos whenever they wanted and hollered to stars to come over and sign autographs. It made me nervous to watch all that, but I never once heard anything said nor did I ever see a star not want to come over to an extra that called them... unbelievable. You wonder how they ever completed the shoot.
I even had a scene as an extra in the Permain Booster suite where some of the paid actors came up and introduced themselves to me... again unbelievable.
My thought on Peter Berg is that he is better working and communicating with professional talent. By the time they got to Houston I think his patience had pretty well "had it" with this massive group of non-professionals running around the movie set. On the other hand, I think 2nd A.D. Dave did a tremendous job of working with the bottom of the barrel and getting their best. Extras don't like being told to move here and there after sitting in one place for three hours; or not being chosen for a particular scene. But I thought Dave was very political in his handling of all that crap, and I have to especially admire how he took the time to memorize literally hundreds of "extras" names.
In the movie the championship game comes down to the very last play (about a 30 yard run after a pass) and Permian gets stopped at the six inch line. They did a couple different endings of Billy Bob's reaction. The second one they shot, Billy Bob turns to his wife in the stands, and you see a close up of tears coming to Connie Britton's eyes. The problem is that the second version was shot on a different day with a different set of extras. A lot of work had to go in to making the extras look like the first set of extras (including painting beards and faces).
Thanks! Those first hand reports really bring it home. He emailed back to add the following:
Also, there was quite a long article on being an extra in the FNL movie about two weeks ago in the Houston Chronicle. It might be found on their website. I can't remember the day now but the lady they interviewed was a Permian extra that worked the whole Houston stint. Although she was quite quiet among our group I remembered her.
Another interesting thing about the Houston extras is that quite a few were from Austin and worked both locations. What some people won't do to get their face on the big screen.
Yeah, we've heard about those "professional" extras. Anyway, thanks again! By the way, that Houston Chronicle article was mentioned in these pages, and the whole thing can be seen here along with a falsh photo gallery. It's worth a look.