A Day in the Life of an Extra – Escape at Dannemora

Okay, so I need to fill you all in on an update on a blog post I wrote last year.  When I wrote about what the audition process was like for Showtime’s limited series directed and executive produced by Ben Stiller, Escape At Dannemora,  I had given up hope of being asked to be an extra because I knew other people who had already been contacted and some had already started shooting scenes.  Literally, within a week of writing that post, I was called asking if I was still able to be a part of the show! Of course, I jumped on that opportunity!! And a week later, I was on location at the local hospital, Alice Hyde Medical Center, in Malone, NY, as a “patient” extra.

I had a late morning call-time the day of the shoot and my mom and I were so excited, we were all smiles while driving up to Malone.  We couldn’t contain our happiness and excitement! This kind of thing never happens in our small community, so this was a big deal for us.  Anyways, once I got there and checked in, it was basically a waiting game in a designated waiting room for the first couple of hours. They were finishing up filming a few other scenes before we could shoot our scene.  So, while we waited they had a couple of tables set up for all of us extras to sit at and I met a lot of cool and interesting people while we waited. It was really nice to meet new people and get to talk to them and learn their stories.  A lot of people knew a lot of the real people involved in the escape and a lot of the law enforcement involved in the manhunt and investigation, which was pretty interesting to learn and see through different perspectives.

After waiting for a few hours, some of us started getting hungry.  So, we grabbed a bite to eat in the cafeteria before heading back to our little waiting area.  By the time I got back, some of the production workers that were with us had gotten word from the other group that they were finally over at the hospital and getting ready to set up.  That’s when people from the wardrobe department also came by to give some people costumes such as doctors or nurses, even some law enforcement attire as well and looked the rest of us over who were just dressed in normal clothes.  The e-mails that we got saying what we should wear said something along the lines of fall attire and which colors to avoid wearing. The wardrobe people were told something different, though, since the actual crime/escape took place in the summer they were told that we should be in summery clothes.  The problem with that was even though this video shoot took place at the end of August, it was unseasonably cold! So, they let me borrow a green and white plaid short sleeve button up shirt to wear and my maroon puffer vest that I brought with me. I was still cold, but once we started officially rolling and I was given the task that I had to do, I honestly didn’t realize how cold it was anymore.  The only thing that I was aware of during “resets” (basically between takes) was how cold my hands were getting lol.

Once we all figured out the wardrobe situation, we were lead outside of the hospital and we were all given certain tasks to act out when we were told “action.”  We were all put into small groups or given an acting partner to interact with, I was placed with this other girl and before we were told where our starting point was, we were standing on the sidewalk chatting when we noticed a few feet away that Ben Stiller was sitting in the backseat of a car with the window rolled down talking into his walkie giving direction to the production crew.  We thought that was so cool! A few minutes later one of the Assistant Directors (ADs) told us that we would be walking out of this little enclosed area (normally an authorized personnel only entrance and exit) and we were told to start walking like we were exiting the hospital and talking to each other and when we see the police car enter the parking lot and the police coming out to question people, for us to act all surprised and try and sneak and eavesdrop on the conversations to try and find out what was going on.  What they didn’t tell us was that our starting point was also Patricia Arquette’s and Eric Lang’s starting point as well! So, every time we had to “reset” the scene (go back to our “1”) we got to meet and talk with Patricia and Eric a few times! It was so funny when my acting partner saw Eric dressed as Lyle Mitchell because she thought it really was the real Lyle (who she knows in person/knows the family) and she started freaking out and said, “Oh my God! What is he doing here?!” at first I thought she was joking haha.  The production assistant then chimed in and said something along the lines of yeah hair and makeup really did a great job, right?

Then a few minutes later Patricia walked in where we were which I wasn’t expecting and surprised me.  She’s actually not that much taller than me and when she first walked in, I smiled at her, but I got nervous because it looked like she was just staring me down!  I was internally freaking out for a minute there, but turns out she was just reading the sign behind my head! After she got done reading she started laughing and made the comment of, “Well, I guess not today!” (the sign basically said the authorized personnel thing).  Eric joined us shortly thereafter and he was really cool to talk to, you can tell that acting really is his passion and he loves talking about the craft. Everyone was all really personable, friendly, and very nice. It was a great atmosphere. I even at one point held the makeup bag for Patricia while the Makeup Artists reapplied touchup makeup haha.  I had a blast!! I’m really glad that I got to be a part of this whole experience.

The shoot that I was a part of was about a year ago and the series officially kicks off with the first episode airing on TV this Sunday (11/18/2018) on Showtime!  They announced a few weeks ago that one of the screenings of the first episode that they were going to do was going to be premiered here in Plattsburgh at one of our local movie theaters.  Tickets were on a first come first served basis and even though I applied for tickets the night that it was announced on the news, I got put on a wait list for tickets. On Twitter, I saw a few contests and giveaways for free tickets for a few of their NYC showings (which is like 5 or 6 hours away from me) so I applied to one of them and of course what do ya know, I won two tickets to the Lincoln Center Priemere!  I can get into the Priemere in NYC, but not the local one! Go figure! Haha I’ll keep you guys updated on how things go, but in the meantime, you should check out the trailer for the mini-series! It’s a lot darker and grittier than I thought it would be, but it looks good!

Let me know your thoughts!


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