One Tree Hill, like Dawson’s Creek before it, films in Wilmington, North Carolina. Often, students from UNC – Wilmington get drafted into being extras on shows that are taping in town. My sister, Stephanie Marcus (who pops up occasionally around these parts), a UNCW alum, did a couple of rounds as an extra on One Tree Hill. Blink and you’ll miss her – she’s at the 27:32 mark in this episode. The episode, “Just Watch the Fireworks,” is from season three. (She’s the one on the right in the jeans and pinky-orange top.)
Extra work is a great way for students (and, really, anyone who has a couple of hours to spare) to get a tiny taste of working in the entertainment industry. I asked my sister for some of the pros and cons of being an extra, and here’s what she had to say:
- Getting to meet celebrities. It depends on what you’re filming and when, and it’s possible that you might be in a crowd scene that doesn’t feature any of the main actors. But Stephanie reports that she met most of the One Tree Hill cast members (including Chad Michael Murray and Hilarie Burton) at one point or another.
- You get paid! It’s not a ton, but you will be compensated for your time. Sometimes you luck out: even if you only end up working for two hours, you will be paid for a minimum of eight.
- There’s free food. If you’re there for more than a couple of hours, you’ll get free lunch. It’s not the best food in the world, but it’s decent.
- People sometimes recognize you. Stephanie says she once got a phone call at 3 AM from a friend who watched this very One Tree Hill episode on TV and spotted her in the background.
- There’s a lot of “hurry up and wait.” You often spend hours in the call room just sitting around just to film a thirty-second scene.
- You feel like you’re in the way. As the least important people around, you feel like nobody likes you. Since most of the cast and crew know each other and have already been working together for awhile, you sometimes feel like the uncool kid at the lunch table.
- It gets old at some point. Even if you’re a superfan, the sitting around and waiting starts to get old at some point. You might spend all day waiting around and never make it on camera. Like any other job, it starts to feel like work.
Overall, Stephanie says she’d recommend doing extra work if you can. Despite the long hours, it’s a fun way to learn how the entertainment industry works and to get an insider’s perspective. However, she wouldn’t recommend it as a full-time gig, because it gets tiring.