Profile: A Day in the Life of an Extras Co-Ordinator
Since joining The Production People family, I have been keen to learn as much as I can about the various interesting and exciting jobs for which we provide production staff. One day we could provide a Broadcast Co-Ordinator for a live sporting event and the next day, it could be a PTZ Operator for a corporate event. Anything from production runners to editors to AV technicians, we work with a hugely diverse and skilled pool of people. No two jobs are ever the same and we take great care to ensure we are placing the most suitable people in the role. There’s nothing more satisfying than making a client happy by providing them with the perfect person for the job!
One job title in particular came across my desk recently and caught my eye…’Extras Co-Ordinator’. ‘Well, what’s that all about?’ I thought to myself. I reached out to Oisín, who is currently working for us as an Extras Co-Ordinator on Ireland’s favourite soap, Fair City. Extras are used in the background of the action to make scenes look realistic and it is the Extras Co-Ordinator’s job to make sure the extras have filled out their paperwork correctly, have the right costumes and props, are in the correct positions and are ready for their scenes.
Oisín very kindly let me ask him some questions about his job and what it’s really like to work on a soap set. So, here is a little insight into what it takes to be an Extras Co-Ordinator.
Hey, Oisín! Thanks so much for talking to me. Would you mind telling me what is it you do?
The job title I have on Fair City is ‘Extras Co-ordinator’. Essentially what it involves is directing extras where to go and what to do in the background of various scenes. It’s great because you get to communicate with all the different departments: directors and assistant directors – to get an idea of how many people to place, cameras – to see frames, sound – to convenience boom operators, wardrobe – to dress extras appropriately, staging – to have extras going into different ‘buildings’ and props – for when extras need various beverages during bar scenes etc.
Sounds like a really interesting and fast-paced environment. What does a normal day look like on set?
No day on set is ever the same. One day you might be shooting on different sets in a soundstage. Another day you’ll be out on the lot filming in the Carrigstown street. At the start of the day the whole crew will arrive and start setting up equipment. We will get a running order and a script which lets us know what we have to get done for the day. Then we’ll dive right in, and tackle each scene, and the different challenges they bring.
What’s the most fun part of the day for you?
I love the moment when the director and the cast start blocking the next scene. It’s the time you get to see the space you’ll be working in and get creative with where you’re going to place the extras and what you’re going to have them doing. It can give you a really good buzz when something clicks perfectly.
What does it take for shooting to run smoothly?
A lot of factors go into making shooting run smoothly. Most importantly, when the time comes for each department to go to work, they have to be ready. There’s plenty of time to have a chat on set; you just have to make sure you’re not still chatting when it’s time for you to do your part.
What qualities and abilities are important for someone to be an Extras Co-Ordinator?
I think the ability to think ahead is quite important. If an extra needs to be in her cashier outfit for the third scene of the day, don’t have her run to change five minutes before the camera rolls, have her change a scene previous. You need to be on top of the game, and make sure you’re not the person that’s stopping the camera from rolling.
So, there you have it! A great insight into the role of an Extras Co-Ordinator which is just one of the many production roles for which The Production People provide hard-working, skilled people.