I am extra … hear me roar!

July 7, 2014 11:00 AM

Johanna Gretschel

When Jurassic World hits theaters next summer, look out for a blonde girl who loses her shoes while leading a pack of tourists running away from pterodactyls. Listen for her killer scream.

Jurassic Park

The highly anticipated Jurassic World, the fourth movie in the Jurassic Park series, is slated to open in theaters in June 2015. (Image from youtube)

I worked as a background artist — the industry-preferred term for “extra” — in June on the set of what is the fourth installment in producer Steven Spielberg’s hit dinosaur series. After glamorous shoots in Hawaii, the Hollywood crew built what is purportedly one of the largest sets in film history at the abandoned Six Flags and former Jazzland amusement park in New Orleans East.

I attended a casting call in April at Grace King High School in Metairie, where I filled out a tax form and smiled for a mug shot. All hopefuls had to fill out a questionnaire that included space for special skills (running, twerking) and acting experience (orphan with dance solo, Annie, sixth grade).

My impressive resume was enough for a callback, as the casting director booked me for eight days of filming in June — the first with a 5:30 a.m. call time.

Without revealing too much top-secret information, here are a few things I learned: 

1. Don’t wear green: it blends in with the green screen.

2. There is no alcohol on set. The colorful “cocktails” on camera are lukewarm Gatorade and the “draft beer” is O’Doul’s.

3. Sunscreen during a New Orleans summer shoot is critical. I have never sweated that much in my entire life!

4. Prepare for a long day. I rose at 4 a.m. to make the call time and checked out at 7 p.m. — and the crew stopped filming two hours earlier than scheduled. 

5. It’s really easy to make friends on set and everyone has an interesting story. I made friends with a former NFL player and a professional photographer from Uzbekistan.

6. Perks include free breakfast and lunch buffets as well as a check with overtime pay.

A great resource for students interested in working as extras is Batherson Casting Co. Fill out an online profile and you’ll start receiving email messages about casting calls around New Orleans and Baton Rouge.

Johanna Gretschel holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Tulane University. She is a freelance writer living in New Orleans.

Tulane University, New Orleans, LA 70118 504-865-5000 website@tulane.edu