The Oregonian - October 29, 1998
FUN, FANTASY DRAW PLENTY OF EXTRAS FOR MOVIE SHOOT
People of all ages and walks of life flex their schedules to appear in “Night Ride Home,” to be filmed by a Wilsonville company.
By Linda H. McCarthy
Pioneers, happy couples and laughing families walked quickly into the basement of Canby Christian Church. And they waited.
People read, played cards, talked and played with hand-held video games. It could be minutes. It could be hours before they would get a call to the set.
About 200 extras recently filled in background scenes for a short segment of a movie. Wait Park, across the street from the church, was transformed into fictional Elk Springs, where a founder’s day picnic was being filmed for “Night Ride Home,” a Hallmark Hall of Fame TV movie. Wilsonville-based McGee Street Productions Inc., is doing the filming, and the movie is scheduled to air on CBS in February.
Kjirsti Hordon, general assistant for Extras Only in Portland, said when a movie production company asks for background people, the agency has a list of 2,000 to choose from.
She said the agency looks for different visual types, real people with flexible schedules and positive attitudes. The extras pay the agency 10 percent of what they earn.
For some, it was a new experience, and one that they won’t repeat. But for many, it is something they have done many times.
Started with lottery
Richard Eiden Sr., 75, of Aloha didn’t break into acting until 1995, when he was picked for a lottery commercial. Like many extras, he works with an agency to find jobs. He started after he heard that movie companies were looking for older men.
He was paid $900 a day for the lottery slot. On the “Night Ride Home” set, Eiden was paid $50 for each eight hours worked.
“I’m retired, and it’s something to do,” Eiden said.
Carole Hansen, 63, of Portland has been working the extra circuit for four years. She’s seen many stars, including Kevin Dobson and Sylvester Stallone. Like others, she enjoys the job because of the people.
She likes to watch the movies she works in to see whether she made the final cut. Hansen and her husband, Al, once worked on a 10-minute scene for two weeks, and it didn’t get in.
Ten years ago, Evelyn Ching, 65, of Portland retired as a lab tech and found a part-time job as a movie extra. Her husband, Bill, 70, joined her when he retired as a head chef at the former Henry Thiele’s restaurant in Northwest Portland.
Early Movie Fan
Evelyn Ching’s love of the movies dates to her early years in Portland. During World War II, she would go downtown hunting autographs from movie stars who came promoting war bonds. Gene Kelly’s autograph was one of her first, but Rock Hudson’s was her favorite.
The Chings have been in dozens of movies and figure they will be in plenty more as production companies look to the Northwest for scenic backdrops. They also work on commercials.
“For me, it’s a fun, fantasy thing to do,” Ching said, “but I tell everyone it’s boring, and you don’t make any money.”
Being an extra is a big commitment. It’s a job made for people who have a flexible schedule. One small scene might have to be filmed again for several days, making it mandatory that everyone return.
Julie Lord, 36, of Molalla, is a real estate agent and a part-time server at a restaurant, but she still finds time now and then for a role as an extra in a movie or commercial. She spent two days on the set of “Night Ride Home,” but most of her jobs have been in commercials in Southern California, where she signs up for work when she visits her dad.
She was in Canby for the fun of it. It didn’t take long for people to figure out that Lord was a veteran. She knew where to be when the assistant director was looking for volunteers.
“It’s fun to visit with the other extras, and this has been an enjoyable shoot,” she said while waiting for word on the next scene. “The stars have been approachable.”
Keith Carradine, Rebecca De-Mornay and costars Thora Birch and Jordan Brower were on the set most of both days of shooting. Extras were able to stay on the set between shoots as long as they were quiet.