The Extras Bringing Out the Extra: Remembering the Forgotten Background Artists
A film is recognised by its charismatic leads and its euphonious music… but never by its ‘extras’. No beating around the bush, we all turn the television off the moment the credits roll up because we are intrigued by each second of a film… until the story ends— happily ever after, for the characters, at least. The viewers, on the other hand, have to deal with the teensy, trifling names of the credited people and we all think, ‘Who even puts up with these credits? I mean, I’m out.’ The point is, let’s call a spade a spade. ‘Extras’ don’t get credited enough. The name itself is so incredulously demeaning! And by the way, if you think that playing a background role is a fantastic chance to talk to the literal actors, I am so sorry to break it for you but background artists are strictly prohibited from talking to the actors. So… no encaptivating autographs? Sadly, yes. The disparaging treatment is not only given on-set but we, as viewers, do contribute to it as well. Oh, before you exclaim modestly (or rather, mendaciously) that you never shamed an extra, recall all the times you found such jobs menial, whether you voiced it out or not. These so-called “inglorious” errands are actually adding all the cinnamon and pepper to the mix and you’ll never even know! Imagine what a laughing stock the actor would look like dancing with no supporting artists! Well, you get the picture. So, what do you do? Uh, no, you don’t really have to rally about it on the streets (let’s hope I didn’t just give maniacs another crazy idea!) but let us all start to change out standpoint! Let us all notice the next time we watch a film and think, ‘Hmm, that artist there has honestly done an incredible job.’ And also, let’s suffer the menace of the credits from this point on because it feels seriously terrible when no one’s interested in knowing that the amazing work you did was done by you (saying from many experiences). You might think that in a world where climate change and global hunger are problems awaiting to be tackled, such problems are a waste of time discussing upon. But I bet, you never felt what’s called as ‘sonder’. A feeling of eccentricity on the realisation that everyone is the lead of their own life, the centre of their own story. And the ‘extras’ are not the ‘extras’ of their story. They too want to be applauded and recognised but we instead choose to devalue their work. The bottom line is, let us make up for all the times we condemned the work by ‘Remembering the Forgotten’.