Extra job: long waits for short, thrilling moments
A hush fell over the crowded, humid room as a man with a walkie-talkie strapped to his hip entered the Holbrook Masonic Lodge in downtown Forest Grove.
"Alright, rolling!" he cried out to the room full of extras — background actors hired to fill the scenes of the television show "The Librarians" with realism and color.
Thursday, July 6, was the first day of filming for an episode of the popular TNT show and extras, actors, film and set crews overran Main Street between Pacific and 21st Avenue.
Outside, the crews quietly bustled about their work. Silence was vital so the actors could rehearse and film without interruptions. A huge sun screen elevated on a blue mechanical lift shaded the unfolding scene below as extras and actors worked under the gaze of cameras.
Within the lodge, which served as the extras' holding room, people were strewn about in a disarray, sitting in silence at long fold-out tables and waiting for their turn on set. Several mirrors lined with light bulbs leaned against one wall, transformed into a makeshift hair-and-makeup area.
Against the opposite wall, "small-town folk" extras sat on the floor or on fold-out chairs, slouching down to nap in the heat. Nearby, "marching band" extras in blue uniforms fiddled with their musical instruments, including Sierrah Edwards, a 16-year-old from Banks who plays tenor saxophone.
Edwards said the uncertainty of it all has put her on edge but she's having fun anyway. Communication hasn't been great — the extras didn't find out they'd be needed on set that day until 7:30 p.m. the night before so she'd had to email and call a lot. But as a fan of the show, Edwards is enjoying herself. It's been a totally new experience for her.
Forest Grove teen Grace Malloy loves theater and has been involved with Theatre in the Grove since she was 5. Grace will turn 15 in two weeks and Thursday was her first day on an honest-to-goodness filming set. She was brimming with excitement.
"Its really cool as soon as you walk in. You immediately see a lot of people and I've never gone to wardrobe hair and makeup. I do theater so it's completely different," she said.
Malloy, who also sings, said the experience on the Librarians set has encouraged her even further. "I hope to be on Broadway someday."
Michelle Robles also lives in Forest Grove and brought her daughter Emily, 14, and her son Matthew, 16, to work on the set as "town kids." They were some of the first extras called to work on a scene.
During his moment in the background, Matthew said, he was pretending to eat ice cream and the prop they provided seemed almost real enough to eat.
Now they'd been waiting for hours to be called for another scene.
"I expected more time on the set walking around and less time waiting," said Matthew, who was still happy to be there.
Although it was a new, exciting experience for many of the local extras, others wandering the set were seasoned television workers.
Marie Welsh, who helped organize the extras, works for Marinella-Hume Casting, which finds the background actors for shows such as "Librarians," "Leverage" and "Grimm." She said she got her foot in the door for the better position when she unexpectedly received a call-back as an extra for the show "Leverage."
Although TV stars such as Noah Wyle, who is directing this particular episode, and Lindy Booth are on set working, it's protocol for extras to avoid interacting with them unless directed to do so or spoken to first, said Welsh, whose young daughter is working on the current set in Forest Grove as an extra. But that doesn't take away from the thrill.
"Just being a part of something big and exciting, getting to watch a TV show or movie being made — it's a lot of fun," she said. Seeing herself on film, Welsh said, even for just two seconds, is an indescribable feeling, so she understands the excitement some of the new extras are feeling.
"They work long days and you have to be patient waiting for your turn, but when you're on set it's like magic."