Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Being an Extra on Public Enemies

There are so many reports from the making of Public Enemies, mainly due to the fanatical interest there is in the enigmatic personality of Johnny Depp. I think one of the best Public Enemies behind the scenes coverage comes from Rod Melotte's experience on set and his daily blog depicting his adventure(includes exclusive pictures). Click here to see it.

Here is another perspective of the Public Enemies shoot seen through the eyes of an extra in a courtroom scene. Read an excerpt below. For the full story click here:

On the set of Public Enemies with Michael Mann and Johnny Depp in Wisconsin
One extra's experience from a movie shoot in Darlington
Zac Shipley on Sunday 03/30/2008 2:04 pm , (46) Recommendations

Director of Photography Dante Spinotti and the photographers shot with two top shelf cameras, covering the scene with wide shots and close-ups of every actor from multiple angles. The scene was repeated for the entire day, with only a short break for lunch. While some of the extras groaned there at repeating it over and over, I gained a new appreciation for how intensely difficult it is to get the right shot and delivery.

Eventually the extras in most of the courtroom were dismissed as they moved the cameras to the perspective of the gallery. Luckily remaining in front, I dutifully continued my role, staring at Dillinger as he entered while casually whispering to the gentleman sitting beside me. For continuity purposes, it was important that extras performed the exact same actions for every take, so in the event of a quick camera cut there aren't any unexpected continuity difficulties. Of course I was somewhat nervous when the camera was settled right over my shoulder for a shot of the prosecution and the judge. But then I remembered, I'm a professional and a star now!

With the arraignment scene completed, the dozen or so extras remaining in the room had to wait before being dismissed, as another scene was about to be shot in the rotunda of the courthouse. Here, Depp as Dillinger was led down a hallway and into the courtroom under armed guard. Some minor movie magic was employed as the camera followed him into the back of the room though the scene we spent most of the day shooting showed Dillinger entering through the front. This was the only shot of the day I got a chance to see from behind the cameras, as I watched a monitor along with Spinotti.

After a couple quick takes, the clock struck 8 p.m. and Mann called it a wrap. Public Enemies was finished for the day in Darlington, though it would be retuning to Columbus the next day, Crown Point itself last week, and on to the Chicago area and various other locations around Wisconsin in the coming months.

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