I’m shooting a video for class soon and we have a scene where there’s two people talking with a crowd around them and I’m really worried because we’ve done sceens in the past with extras and since most everyone is a student it’s hard to get them to actually stay quiet. We tell them to pretend to have conversations but there’s always at least a few people who ignore us and ruin takes and I don’t know how else to explain it! How do you keep extras busy so they follow instructions??
Sometimes people say it’s too hard to fake talk because they think it looks fake so they think talking quietly will be ok but that’s not how it works and our mic always picks it up
what I would do is take a risk and have more extras than necessarily needed, and if someone repeatedly disobeys your direct orders and ruins takes, kick them out. prove a point.
you also need to be ruthless-- yell “quiet on set”, command attention, glare down people who are talking, tell them the sooner they shut up the sooner everyone can leave. you don’t have to be harsh about it if you don’t want to be, but you need to make it clear that this is your set and they play by your rules. if they don’t listen to that, switch people around in the crowd. if it’s the same two people having a conversation, separate them. if the conversation persists (one of them keeps talking), call that person out by name or specifically pull them aside/have someone pull them aside. if they’re publicly shamed for not listening, they’ll probably feel guilty and start listening.
Thank you!! Is there… a nicer way maybe, at least at first? Something I could give them to distract them? A lot of people are friends of mine they just don’t it
You could maybe try to make it into a game? Make a bunch of little scraps of paper with conversation topics on them and have everyone pick one (but don’t show anyone else!) and at the end of takes have conversation partners try to guess what the other person was mouthing. It adds, like, another reason to not say anything out loud cuz it’s a rule of the game. Like charades almost.
Sometimes you gotta do extra work so that your day of goes smoothe
that sounds like a great option! the only problems I can see with this are the extras getting too invested and drawing attention away from the actors, and if you’re working with teenagers, they might be apathetic about it. but it’s definitely an idea that deserves some testing!
Oh shoot I didn’t think of that because yeah, teenagers mostly. Is offering a prize to whoever gets the most right too much? Maybe it’s getting too complicated now… it’s just that people are helping us for free so getting bad at them might mean they won’t help again… or they might not be my friends anymore which would also not be cool
Honestly, what’s the point of them volunteering if they aren’t actually doing the thing they volunteered for? I like @kmd’s idea about bringing too many people and then firing people if they screw around. Definitely a power move (which I LOVEE) but it also covers your bases and gives you the flexibility.
You can also make a crowd look busy with less people. Just add movement and maybe have people leave frame, put on a hat and a different jacket, then walk back across! It depends on what kind of scene it is, I guess, but that’s a trick I’ve used before!
I agree with everything that’s been said so far! And to @Meg’s point- crowd scenes are pretty easy to fake, especially if the frame is tight and you play with perspective (some people closer to the camera, some further away) and movement (movement makes an empty frame seem fuller because the eye assumes spaces are filled since things keep moving into them). We once filmed a “full cafeteria” with about four people- we just added movement, spread people out, and added crowd sounds and dining sounds in post.
I guess that’s true… I just feel like I’m asking too much especially if I’m going to be snippy.
I think a moving crowd thingy might work though! I will have to look at our story board but thanks for the tip!!
Is that episode 8??
It is! It also helped that we moved the camera to a corner of the room about halfway through, so we wouldn’t need to keep swapping people out.
Worth mentioning it was an apocalypse show, though, haha. Could just be a population thing that it wasn’t a very busy cafeteria.
what you need to be clear about if you decide to be sharp with the extras is that on set, you all have a WORK relationship. your friendship is on the back-burner. anything that happens on set-- whether it be you yelling or them distracting-- should not affect your friendship. when they’re on your set, they work for you. during downtime or after the shoot you can be friends again.
Thank you, everyone!!