Statesman Journal - October 4, 1996
THE EXTRAS-CREDIT KID
He’s just 19, but Danny Stoltz has moved into the spotlight casting extras for movies and TV filming in Oregon
By Ron Cowan
Portland - There will be some stars waiting to be born Saturday as Portland-based Extras Only holds an open casting call for a new independent movie, “Verse vs. Vice.”
Extras Only also will be looking for people to fill small roles in a slew of commercials, infomercials and industrial and training films that are made in Portland each year.
These are roles for people happy to be seen, if not heard, and to share in the glamour of show business, however peripheral.
The dynamo driving Extras Only is 19-year-old Danny Stoltz, a fast-talking and ambitious entrepreneur in denim shorts, plaid shirt and backward baseball cap.
In just three years - he founded his business with a partner at age 16 - Stoltz has cornered a large chunk of the local extras business, in spite of competition from four rival casting firms.
Rachel Jahn, a Chemeketa Community College student from Monmouth, had no idea what she was getting into when she decided to be a film extra through Extras Only.
“Now, I’m doing acting,” she said. “One thing led to another.”
Jahn, 18, appeared as a non-speaking extra in three episodes of “Nowhere Man,” the UPN television series, and the feature film “Foxfire,” as well as turning up in an Izzy’s Pizza commercial.
Next Thursday, she’ll step up the next rung of the ladder, playing the second lead in the independent feature film “Verse vs. Vice,” which will be filming in Portland for a month.
Jahn will play the “evil character,” a manipulative teen-ager trying to wrest the editorship of her high school newspaper from another girl.
“It’s a lot of waiting,” said Jahn of working as an extra. “(But) it’s exciting work even though it can boring at times.”
There are cautions for people interested in being extras, said David Woolson, director of the Oregon Film and Video Office.
“I think it’s an opportunity for people to get a behind-the-scenes look,” he said. “Are you going to get rich being an extra? Very Unlikely.”
Woolson also warns that people interested in a show business career will not build it through a casting director for extras, nor should they expect to be picked out of a crowd and made a star.
They also should be careful not to pay more than the normal fee to a casting director.
Extras Only charges $25 for listing a client, and takes from 10 percent to 30 percent of the extras’ pay off the top - fairly common in the business, Woolson said.
In addition to the “Nowhere Man” series and “Foxfire,” Stoltz also cast extras for the features “Ox and the Eye,” with James Earl Jones, and has cast for commercials ranging from the Oregon Lottery to Les Schwab tire stores, Hewlett Packard and Fred Meyer.
Stoltz will be casting extras for 25 projects this month, drawing on a pool of some 3,500 Oregon clients, a group he hopes to augment Saturday.
“The average extra works two or three jobs a year,” said Stoltz, whose office in Old Town Portland buzzes with incoming calls.
“It kind of depends on the look and the attitude, too.”
Wholesome, all-American and business types are in high demand, although all types are needed, including ethnic types. Ages 22 to 43 are the most in demand.
“We want people who are down to earth, who have fun, who are outgoing,” he said - helpful qualities when you have to sit around waiting for hours.
Another downside: Extras can work long days for little pay, can be summoned or dismissed abruptly pending schedule changes, and may not even end up in the finished product.
“It’s a frustrating business for people who don’t understand it,” said Stoltz, who provides a free two-hour training course for his clients.
“If they’re not patient, it’s not the business for them to be in.”
Stoltz promises a better than average chance of getting work, plus pay that can range from $40 to $1,000 a day.
“A lot of people don’t understand that they can do it, they can be in movies,” he said.
For Stoltz, show business has been a passion since the eighth grade, when he got his first job as an extra.
He dropped out of high school in his sophomore year and landed a job at Thumbs Up Casting, another extras casting firm in Portland. He was an assistant casting director on the feature film “Mr. Holland’s Opus” and by 16 started his own company.
Extras Only has become one of the busier casting offices in Portland, according to the State Film and Video Office, which has referred projects to Stoltz.
“I just turned 19 three days ago,” Stoltz said.
He recently bought himself a new mustang - and paid cash.
“It’s a shock to me to be where I am right now,” Stoltz said. “I think the reason we’re doing as good as we’re doing is we have integrity.”
But Stoltz also has something just as valuable in this fiercely competitive business.
“I’m a kid. I have fun doing it,” he said with relish. “I put my heart into it. It’s not just a job.”