Pop-Ed: I Was an Extra on the 'Lost' Finale
By Tracey Harrington McCoy Posted May 24th 2010 04:51PM
As a huge 'Lost' fan, I was pretty excited when I moved to Oahu, Hawaii, last year. Stalking the cast (in a polite way) and checking out filming locations became my hobby de jour. I happened to live in the same neighborhood as most of the cast, and seeing Kate (Evangeline Lilly) while getting coffee or waving to Richard (Nestor Carbonell) while eating Indian became a weekly thing. But being an extra in the finale? I couldn't believe it was happening.
A few days after the call, I headed into Honolulu for my fitting. It took place at a downtown hotel where the entire wardrobe department was set up. Racks and racks of clothes filled the huge room -- to the ceiling! Each two-story rack had a big sign: "Kate," "Sayid," "Jack." The clothes for each character are exactly what you'd think: dirty, solid color shirts and lots of jeans and cargo pants.
The wardrobe guy called my name, looked me up and down, and selected a purple Calvin Klein number for my 'Lost' debut. He handed me some shoes and off to the dressing room I went. After I was all dolled up, I came out, spun around for the wardrobe department, was given some earrings and told I was good to go. They took my "costume," put it in a clear bag with my name in bold letters and told me I'd pick it up the night of shooting. ("Oh my god! They said 'shooting!' This is really happening!")
A month later, I was contacted with my call time for the night of shooting. We were asked to report at 6PM for an overnight shoot. I couldn't wait.
My friends and I arrived to the set on time and were ushered to the makeshift wardrobe area. We quickly changed into our costumes and were led to the hair and makeup section. There were four stations set up, each with a mirror, some lights and a stylist. We were seated on one side of the room with a bunch of other extras. A stylist would look over the group and either point to a chair where hair was fixed and makeup was applied, or, if you were lucky, they'd deem you good enough to skip this part. I was given a pass.
Once the three of us were all ready to go, we were brought to the set. We looked around and saw a stage and a tent filled with tables and chairs. We were told to sit at the tables under the tent or in the chairs in front of the stage. One friend sat at a table, and my other friend and I sat in the rows of chairs in front of the stage.
After a couple of hours of rehearsal shots with stand-ins and camera tests, the cast members in the scene were brought out to their spots: Kate! Claire! Desmond! Miles! Charlotte! Charlie! Daniel! Eloise! I couldn't believe the star power in the room.
Kate, Claire, Miles, Charlotte, Eloise, and Desmond all sat at two tables near the front of the tent while Charlie and Daniel hit the stage. Daniel sat behind a piano and Charlie picked up a guitar.
Remember in last night's episode when Charlie and his band Driveshaft join Daniel Widmore on stage for a benefit concert and Desmond chats with Eloise at a table under the tent? Later, Claire goes into labor while watching Charlie play. Those are the scenes we shot that night.
Surprisingly, the scene where Claire goes into labor was shot about 15 times from 10 different points of view -- close on Claire, close on Charlie, close on Kate watching Claire ... That scene took about four hours to shoot and ended up only being about five to ten seconds of airtime. It was fascinating to see such precise attention to detail in that one shot.
Quite a bit happened between each shot. Slight camera adjustments were made, cast members would take quick smoke breaks or the director would give the extras some guidance: "Guys, you're at a concert -- act like it! Dance a little! Look like you're having fun!" It was so fun!
At midnight, they called lunch. We all hit the mess tent, where we feasted on some pasta, mashed potatoes and other carb-heavy snacks. And no, the cast members did not eat with the extras (darn it).
We went back to the set after eating, and more shooting commenced. Charlie and his band faux-performed about 25 times -- each take a little different than the last.
It was the second to last day of shooting ever for 'Lost' and there was a sense of sadness emanating from the cast. Evangeline Lilly was hugging everyone, and when the shoot ended (at 6AM!), you could see that the cast and crew were a little hesitant to leave. For some, it was their last night shooting 'Lost' ever.
At the time, I thought it was pretty neat to see Claire go into labor while Charlie watched, concerned, from the stage. It was obviously a scene from the sideways/present, but what did it mean? Do they know each other? Why is Kate following her? Why is Desmond smiling? What does he know? In the weeks and episodes that followed, these questions were answered. They weren't answered exactly the way I'd guessed after watching the scene so many times, but it was still interesting to see how what I saw fit into the whole puzzle.
Interestingly enough, the directors and assistant directors say nothing about what they're filming to the extras. There's absolutely no context given -- just general direction. I guess in retrospect that makes sense, but I was expecting it a little at the time.
The experience of being on set during the filming of the finale episode was thrilling. Seeing these characters in person after six years of watching them on television was unreal. Hearing someone yell "That's a wrap!" -- and having them actually mean it in a Hollywood way -- was pretty incredible!
I obviously told everyone I'd ever met that I was an extra on the 'Lost' finale. And last night, my parents, family and friends all watched two-and-a-half hours of 'Lost' (whether or not they'd ever seen an episode before) to see my small-screen debut.
"There's Gill!" I yelled from my couch, as my friend became visible behind Desmond. "There's Kelly!" I shrieked when my other friend shot across the screen. And after months of anticipation, the moment finally came. Or to be more correct, didn't come. Turns out, I didn't make it in. Any scenes that included me ended up on the cutting room floor.
I have to admit I'm disappointed I'm not visible for even a second, but the entire experience was worth it anyway. Plus, for the rest of my life, I can say, "My 'Lost' scene was left on the cutting room floor." Is there anything more Hollywood than that?
Evangeline Lilly Snapshots
'Lost' star Evangeline Lilly is seen here flashing her Hollywood smile at the 'La Princesse de Montpensier' screening at the 63rd Cannes Film Festival on May 16. More Pics of 'Kate' >>>
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