This photographic portrait series provides an intimate look at background actors who are pursuing their dreams of cinematic acclaim in an unforgiving industry.
For two years I worked at a boutique-booking agency by the name of Booked Talent. The company had several extras registered with them. I worked closely with casting directors who would book people on major motion pictures, commercials and television shows. This body of work was driven by the fascination of the human spirit and the lengths one will go to for their dreams.
Hollywood is a haven for dreamers; an oasis people flock to with a half promise that their dreams can be met. They fill buses and trains; cars are packed and planes point west, all with travelers anxiously anticipating their leap to stardom. All are hoping to become an integral part of the mythology that is Los Angeles.
As a first step towards their goal many first become "extras". These are the silent background artists in television and film who are paid to stand, sit or walk, to blend in and become the benign backdrop of, say, a nightclub scene as they repeat the same task for take after take, hour after hour. They are the pedestrian that walks across the street. They are the cab driver who sits in the car driving around the block, the waitress who stands behind a counter pouring coffee. They are the lowliest rung on the totem pole yet the most essential to the production: Their presence creates the crucial illusion of real life in motion pictures.
These Tinseltown workers come from all stations of society --- from wealthy adventurers to ex-cons --- but all of them are hoping to be “discovered,” hoping to hang in there until they get that “big break”: But, ultimately, it is often about the perusal of dreams that are all too often unrealized: the typical lifespan of an extra is only 3 months. Though extra work is a means to an end, it is not an easy one with up to 16-hour days and minimal compensation. The stark reality is that vocation is not invariably a fruitful one.