Film officials say more extras needed for scenes

Published 12:13 am Saturday, October 12, 2013

NATCHEZ — While the first round of casting of extras for the James Brown biopic “Get on Up” has been completed, those involved with the film’s production say they still need more locals to sign up.

“Get on Up” will depict the rhythm and blues legend’s life from when he was 5 until 1993. Tate Taylor — who directed “The Help,” an Academy Award-nominated film — will direct.

The film’s casting director, Tammy Smith, spoke about her work Friday at the weekly Friday Forum.

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Smith said she’s looking to hire 2,500 people from the area to be extras for the film, but to make that work she’s going to need nearly double that number of people who are willing to appear in the movie.

“When you are hiring 2,500 people, you need about 5,000 people because someone might not be available for that day or their hair style might not be stylable for the time period we’re looking for,” she said.

“I need more people of all races — I need more African American people, and I need more Caucasian people. I need more young people.”

In particular, the film needs a number of upscale-looking people for a country club scene, Smith said, as well as “salt of the earth” black people for a scene set in a fish house. Children are also wanted.

“For every one person I need, I have to make four phone calls, because someone may be willing but not able to be there the day we need them,” she said.

Those who are chosen as extras will be called approximately a week in advance of when they are needed, she said, and will be fitted for costumes.

And while extras won’t be making the big money, Smith said they’re an important part of the recipe that makes a good movie.

“People always say, ‘I was just an extra,’ but there is no such thing as ‘just an extra,’” Smith said. “The people have to sell the period. Ninety percent of the time you might be in a room where everything might not be just right, where they have had to cheat a little with a prop, but you might not notice because the people look right.”

Actors likewise perform better when the extras look the part, Smith said.

Filming in Natchez will start Nov. 4 and will continue through the end of the year. A few scenes will be filmed in Jackson in January.

Smith said she will set up office hours soon to allow additional hopeful extras to sign up.

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