Casting Call for Coen Brothers Film
My wife and I went to Scottsbluff August 1 to try out as extras for an upcoming miniseries by the Coen Brothers (Fargo, No Country for Old Men).
Our treatment at the casting call was significantly different than others, along with what happened after we left (keep reading), so we’re hopeful.
Originally, my wife was not interested, but after encouragement from scores of people here at Little Green Footballs and at Wonkette, she was encouraged to give it a whirl.
Today was National Night Out Day, which is celebrated as a town party during the day in Scottsbluff. The Midwest Theater, where the tryouts were held, was right in the middle of that. Even without the casting call, it was a mob scene in the street.
Several people here suggested such things as bringing up extra skills that might be useful to the film-makers, though it turned out the way the casting call was structured, that was not possible.
The details as put out by the theatre for the casting call are available at the Midwest Theater Website:
After my wife told some of her Internet peeps over at another Website about this, they suggested dressing not as XIX Century pioneers on the Overland Trail (lots of people would do that), but as recognisably as possible.
Thus, my wife was in a Sixties-style red dress with giant white polka dots, and I was in a button-down shirt with pictures of orchids.
When we arrived, the line went down the block, around the corner, down that block to the alley, then down the alley for a block. Wowsers, a lot of people were interested in this.
The Coen Brothers specifically put out they were only interested in people who live in the Nebraska Panhandle for this gig. As such, people from all over the country were in line.
Staffers for their production company periodically came up-and-down the line telling people how to fill out the placard they would hold up for the photo shoot. Placards had to display your name, your telephone number, your E-mail (if you have one), and your hometown. (I’m guessing that’s how they weed out those who aren’t from round here.) Staffers for the theatre managed the mob scene in and out of the theatre.
Each time the staffers came down the line, they stopped specifically to talk to us (shooting the breeze), which seemed hopeful to us.
When we finally got inside the theatre, we filled out the placards, and were handed a slip of paper telling what the requirements are. The paper reads:
The Coen Brothers will be shooting in Scottsbluff from September 8 through September 27 and we will expect the same people to work every weekday during that time, for a total of thirteen days. We shoot very long days, at least twelve hours a day and the rate is $10/hour with overtime after eight every day. Please note that shooting can be very fluid and can change.
There is a wagon train scene on the prairie, so some walking will take place. There will be night shoots with campfires. We will have one scene crossing a river, so this shoot is not for the faint of heart, but it will be lots of fun. We feed you breakfast and lunch, lots of coffee and snacks.
We will show your photo to the directors and they will choose our cast. We will call you about the third week of August.
Please do not shave or cut your hair. Men must have hair two inches or longer and a full beard. Women must have long, naturally-colored hair, grey is great, we love grey hair, and should not pluck their eyebrows. Children should have longer hair. No shaved cuts or shaved heads.
My wife has waist-length grey hair (her hair has been grey since she was thirty). I have long hair past my shoulder blades and a beard that is growing in (which I started when I read about this in my regional newspaper, the Scottsbluff Star-Herald here).
My wife and I were led out of the group along with a few others for a briefing by the production company, followed by photographs. The bulk of the crowd waiting was shuffled off to a side line to wait (I am not sure what happened to them, but all people were promised they would be photographed).
It was suggested here that we give those running the casting call information about useful crafts or skills, but they weren’t taking that sort of information. The only skills they wanted to know was if you played fiddle or could clog dance. They also wanted to know your weight and height. (Perhaps I will be able to play a teen or something considering my height and extremely slight weight.)
When we left, there was still quite a crowd. My wife and I retired to a restaurant in Scottsbluff, where we dove in to large meals (that was hard work standing in line).
When we left the restaurant, a woman called out “hey you guys, how are you doing?” It was one of the two photographers calling to us. They were coming in to eat. They managed to remember us out of that giant crowd of people.
We stood around and chatted for about ten minutes, mostly asking how their day went: For us this was a special thing but for them this was a lot of work. One told us they had screened over 750 people today.
I suggested to them I would be putting up our experience on a political blog (this one), and one of the photographers enquired “Why? This isn’t a political movie.” I noted that scores of people here were instrumental in convincing us to try out, and were interested in how that would go.
After conversing for a while, we excused ourselves so they could get inside to eat. We didn’t want to keep them.
We just got back home. So here you are. If we make the cut, we’ll be writing more about being an extra on the High Plains.