Winsted-Lester Prairie Journal, August 31, 1998

Lester woman tells of being a movie extra


The life of a movie extra, Doreen Aldrich found out, is hurry up and wait.

Aldrich was one of the many who signed up to be an extra in the movie Herman USA, being filmed in New Germany.

"That was an exciting night, we didn't know what to expect," she said.

Aldrich and others filled out a personal biography, and left pictures of themselves. Aldrich also left pictures of her two children, Paige, 7, and Josiah, 2, because child extras were also needed.

"We met at the city hall and the room was full. More people turned out than they expected. They ran out of forms in about 10 minutes.

"The director talked a little bit about what the movie was based on, which is the bachelors in Herman. He didn't say too much because he didn't want to give the plot away.

"He said they were looking for a lot of women over the age of 21, but he wasn't sure exactly how many they would need for extras," Aldrich said.

"It was exciting to be (at the meeting) and it was exciting they were shooting a movie so close," she said.

She was called by the casting agent and arranged to be on the set Aug. 14.

Aldrich was told she would be on the set from 10 a.m. until midnight, but she wasn't called to do a scene until 6 p.m.

"We were told to wear summer casual clothes and bring a bag or a suitcase to make it look like we were just coming in to town," she said.

Aldrich and 25 others, about 21 women and three men and one eight-year-old boy (whom, she noted, was very well behaved while sitting for eight hours at the movie set) were told to meet at the New Germany Fire Station.

At about 11 a.m., five people were selected for a scene, and Aldrich waited for seven hours for her chance to shine. During the interim, the extras were given snacks and pop, lunch, and supper. While the scenery was being changed, the extras waited at St. Mark's and St. John's School.

Aldrich's first scene called for her to walk down the street within a group of 10 women. In it, the women are checking out the town of Herman while the townspeople are checking out the onslaught of women.

"We did that scene about 15 times. They would rearrange us and they wanted different shots," she said.

Her next scene was to mingle when a bus load of women arrived in town. That was only shot two or three times, she said. "There were about 50 of us in that one."

Aldrich's final time on camera was in the street dance scene, for which a bandshell had been constructed. She and two others were to be listening to the band.

Then, when the mayor tried to speak, they let him know they wanted to see the single men, not to hear the mayor make a speech.

Aldrich returned home after midnight and the long day, combined with taking care of her children early the next morning, left her exhausted for several days.

"I don't think I would do it again, but it was a lot of fun," she said.

"I was so curious to know what happened (on a movie set) and how things were run . . . I don't think the crew ever takes a break. The ones a saw when I got there were still working when I left. You visualize that making a movie is a lot more glamorous."

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