10 Things We Learned While Working as Movie Extras

Aubrey Plaza and Jake Johnson in "Safety Not Guaranteed"

Recently, the Seattle mag team piled into a minivan (yep, that’s how we do it) to watch a preview of Safety Not Guaranteed, an adorable romantic comedy about a man’s mysterious mission to find the right partner to travel back in time with him. Bonus: it was shot in Washington state (go film incentive!).

As I’ve mentioned before, Seattle mag plays a starring role in the movie, along with Mark Duplass (Humpday; The League) and Aubrey Plaza (Parks & Recreation).

Plaza’s character is an intern at a fictional version of Seattle magazine. So, in addition to borrowing our magazine's name, the filmmakers shot a few scenes at our SoDo office/secret headquarters and several of our staffers (not including me, sigh) got to be extras and hang out with the actors.

After listening to several of my colleagues' stories about hours spent repeating the same action over and over again and nervous attempts to not “walk too loud,” it became clear that certain perceptions about both the magazine and film industries are way off. After seeing the film, here's what I can discern:

1. Fake nodding is hard to do convincingly.

2. Real editors should conduct staff meetings by standing at the front of the conference room and shouting “Ideas, people!”

3. Pitch meetings are supposed to have no less than 25 people in attendance. Furthermore, each story idea should have its own power point presentation prepared in advance.

4. Interns aren’t really people. They hover somewhere between “indentured servant” and “self-loathing sidekick.”

5. The fake alcoholic beverages they’re drinking in the background in movies? Yeah, they’re a mixture of rum and Lysol. We’re not surprised they cut the scenes in which our staffers are openly grimacing.

6. All editors should have unlimited travel budgets and drive Escalades.

7. Repeating “watermelon, watermelon” over and over under your breath doesn’t always pass for real conversation on camera.

8. Most actors are super nice; they will also eat all of the peanut M&M’s if you let them.

9. Organizing a co-worker’s desk is a great way to look “busy” on camera. (You’re welcome, Leslie.)

10. Apparently the way some of our editors dress “doesn’t look like someone who works at a magazine.” We’re still not sure what that means...

Safety Not Guaranteed plays at Seattle International Film Festival May 23 and May 25. Times, prices and locations vary. siff.net

 

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