The People I Find: Filmmaking

This week’s post is on Elizabeth. We first met during our freshman year of college at Utah State University. Our apartments were right next to each other and we were both in the leadership house. Elizabeth was always on the go and ready for the next adventure. I was always envious of her endless amount of energy and her will to get things done. Today is her birthday, and so I wanted to tell her happy birthday and share her story. She is a great role model to many. Follow your dreams and your passions, and you will be happy!

Here is Her Unknown Story:

Clare asked me to write about being a movie extra and hopefully I can show you the good the bad and the extensive work of filmmaking!

I began acting in eighth grade. I took acting classes and got an Agent. For about five years I would go on auditions and work as an extra on any film I could. There are hundreds of websites and casting agencies that you can sign up with to become an extra.

HighschoolThe first film I worked on was High School Musical. The first day I worked on this film was miserable. (So my 8th grade self remembers) It was the middle of summer and everyone had to wear winter clothes and backpacks. We were shooting in the middle of the day under blazing sun with no shade in sight. One thing you learn early on while working on movies is that there is a lot of hurry up and wait. There is a lot of standing around doing nothing, especially as an extra. When they finally start filming, you have to do the same actions over and over for each take and shot. Lets be honest it can be boring and tedious. The best part is getting paid for doing almost nothing.

A few weeks after this experience while they were wrapping up filming I decided to work two more days. The first day was pretty easy. We were inside and all we had to do was dance and pretend we were having fun. I was pretty lucky on this day; an extended family member of mine was one of the choreographers for the film so while they were setting up all the extras they put me in a spot where I was the only one on-screen for a while. After a 12 hour day of listening to the same song I can still sing every word! I worked the following day and it was a night shoot. We showed up at 1pm and I literally sat in a tent and played solitaire while we were waiting for it to get dark. It finally got dark and we started shooting. We worked for maybe 3 hours and then got to go home. These are the better days, not a whole lot of work and a good amount of fun.

As an extra you get paid the same amount whether you work 3 hours or 12 hours. Once you hit 12 hours you get paid overtime so they try to never have you go over.

After High School Musical I worked on Everwood and Dadnapped. I also got a radio commercial. Commercials are great because you get paid for every time the commercial plays. For this one it took 20 minutes of recording and I was done working.

ElizibethAs it was time to go to College I decided to take a break and attend Utah State University. I got my Bachelors in Journalism and Communications with a minor in History. After I graduated I moved to Spain and then NYC. I then worked as an Event Production Manager and Designer for 5 years. After getting more involved in high-end weddings I struggled with my work and what I was doing. I felt there was more for me to do and more I could do for the world than help people spend money on parties.

After 5 years working in a job that I thought was my career I decided to leave and let go.

I tried to figure out what I wanted to do with my life and what I wanted to accomplish. I had a friend who had packed up her car and moved to California. I asked her about her experience and told her I was trying to figure out what to do, to find something that made me happy. She said “What does your heart of hearts tell you? Your very, almost childlike core? What do you want to lay on your deathbed and think “ yup, it was worth it.” Discover that and do whatever it takes to make that happen.”

What she told me was one of the most beautiful and most inspiring things I had ever heard. I immediately knew what I was supposed to do. It took me a few months and a lot of things to fall apart. Then everything came together. I was contacted by a few companies about jobs in Los Angeles. I drove to Los Angeles, interviewed with the companies and had the overwhelming feeling that I needed to move to Los Angeles. I drove back to Utah, packed up my car, and moved my whole life to California.

I did not get the jobs I had interviewed for but I hit the ground running. The first weekend I was in California I was lucky enough to work on a feature film. Then jobs kept rolling in. On every project I have worked on I meet incredible people who inspire me. I have met some great friends and great contacts and coworkers.

FilmThis life was meant for me! Everything is changing, everyday and every film is different. I can work hard and have fun. I love to look back and see my start in film to where I am now. I am so grateful that I have been able to be part of the film making process from start to end. Starting as an extra, and now designing and producing films. I am able to understand the hard, long hours everyone puts in. Every once in a while I will work as an extra still. I think it is fun and it keeps me grounded.

I recently was an extra on Greys Anatomy. I have been watching Greys since the beginning and it was so fun to see the set, to be a very small part of the great show that it is. In the episode I worked on I was playing a patient. Nothing is cooler or weirder than walking around a studio lot in a hospital gown with people around you in hospital gowns and fake blood everywhere. I worked for 16 hours and a lot of it was sitting around waiting. If you are ever an extra just know it can be boring and bring something to do in your down time.

I have really good days, really bad days, I have easy days and backbreaking days but what makes the bad days worth it is knowing that I have a purpose. I tell people all the time that I am poorer than I have ever been but I am happiest I have ever been! I would not have had the capability to pickup and move my whole life had I not had the support and love of my family and the knowledge that I know I am supposed to do more in my life.

You can check out the fan page of the Movie Elizabeth is work on now. Love.Meet.Hope

Don’t forget to like THE PEOPLE I FIND!


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