I spent Monday, November 20, on the set of “Older Than America,” the independent feature being shot in and around Cloquet, Minnesota. I was lucky enough to be selected to be a “featured extra.” “Featured” means that the scene specifically calls for the character and “extra” means that you don’t have lines. I played a doctor supervising shock therapy on one of the film’s featured characters.
The scene, which centered around actress Jeri Arredondo, took five hours to block and shoot. Five camera set-ups were required. It was interesting to see a professional actress craft an emotional and physically demanding performance at closeup range.
After the scene wrapped, the extras were asked to hang around for an additional shot, which ended up being the day’s last, making for a very long session. The experience gave me a lot of respect for filmmakers, especially the technicians, production assistants and art department crew members, most of whom toll for long hours without a lot of pay or credit.
Late in the day, I had a conversation with a member of the crew that went like this:
She: Are you a doctor?
Me: No. (Unable to resist, I added) But I play one in a movie.
She: You look like a doctor.
Several people nodded agreement. Apparently, I do look like a doctor.
Me: I think that’s why they cast me.
To be fair, there were several doctors on the set, serving as technical advisors and playing other characters, so it was natural to assume I was a doctor.