Lisa Mason Lee - September 2, 2010
I feel like this girl is me, and all of my other young aspiring actor friends who have been an extra on a big Hollywood movie. I feel like we’ve been hospitalized, like our skulls are fractured from this accident…this accident is a bad dream come true…
Me and my actor friends-we all have a common bond. We all have the dream of becoming a working actor, and we will work as a bottom-of-the-barrel extra on a movie or show, just hoping to get a break…at least this used to be me, when I didn’t know what I was getting myself into just like Gabriella Cedillo did last night, at a night shoot on the set of Transformers 3 in Northwest Indiana next to Chicago, that went horribly wrong. [VIDEO]
Cedillo is an aspiring actress, and last night she was working as a “atmosphere car driver extra” on Transformers 3, and I’m sure she was working on T3 in hopes of getting discovered. The movie shoot was in my home state in Indiana, and the film schedule was a night full of car crashes and big stunts. If you’ve seen Transformers 1 or/and 2, then you know all about the major destruction that takes place in these movies! It is not a safe environment.
This young, innocent, aspiring actress got called in to be an extra last night, and she NEVER should have been there! Only professional stunt people should have been there! Extras DO NOT get paid enough to risk their life one single bit! Sure enough, T3 called in some young willing extras to play everyday “drivers” near the stunted car crashes. I am so sad and mad about this. Please read my “extra” experience below after you read the exclusive news report from her injury on the T3 set last night.
The news report said this is what happened to Cedillo last night while working on the Transformers 3 set:
Cedillo is an aspiring actress from Little Village who works as an extra in movies. She was driving her 2006 Toyota on one side of the Cline Avenue median with stunts involving flying cars going on on the other side. During Wednesday’s shoot a metal object struck her Toyota.
“The vehicle was being towed by another vehicle,” said fellow extra Blaine Baker. “The cable between the two vehicles broke. It whipped around and sliced through the woman’s car and sliced through her skull, apparently.” Witnesses say Cedillo’s car continued moving for almost a mile before it came to a complete stop. According to sources, the kind of stunt being shot on Cline Avenue involved flipping cars and was similar to a scene shot in Chicago on another day when a pressurized cannon was used to launch a car attached by a steel cable. [No statement has been given from T3 production yet!]
I am having a difficult time even getting this out because I feel like Cedillo is one of my wonderful friends who I share a common bond with, and it’s that we share the same struggle of being an actor. I am talking about the risks that one has to take as an actor, whether it’s swimming outside in 45 degree weather, acting like it’s a warm Summer night to spending every penny on your career to get it going-and being forced to eat Ramen Noodles for dinner. I am not bitching about being an actor, I love it, but actors are crazy-they risk it all to make their dream happen. I know Cedillo was out there last night as an extra, with her nice Toyota car that she probably leases with her own money, she was on that set, really excited to be an extra on T3-hoping to get discovered and maybe get a bigger role, and then the big movie stunt goes wrong…
I can tell you from experience in working on Hollywood movies and TV, that accidents on set are not uncommon. I just saw a close call of an accident on the “Friends With Benefits” set when a 30 ft. cable snapped loose from the set car and cracked like a huge whip when the car took off. Luckily no innocent people got whipped with it!
Another example of a bad accident on set that I can tell you about, was when I was an extra on a huge movie that was shot in Downtown L.A. from 6 pm to 5 am in the morning. For the scene in the movie, they were filming a stunt scene and the whole street was blocked off from public traffic. The scene was that the 2 stars were driving a compact car, racing down the street trying to get away, and they make a sharp right turn, whilst stuntmen are hanging onto the car like a gang of zombies. The stunt driver took the right turn wrong, and smashed into the side of a city light pole! The stuntmen went flying off of the car before my eyes! One man was even partially smashed in between the car and light pole! Then, an ambulance came, took a couple stuntmen away, and they kept filming the movie!
I have another example of “extra” abuse that was done to me on a TV show. I was asked to be a body double on the show “The L Word”, and they were going to be shooting in Venice Beach for an episode. They usually film in Canada. It paid better than usual and they said I would be riding a scooter, playing the star’s body double, so I said yes.
It sounded like it would be a fun kind of day, but when I got there, I was already sorry I had signed on. There were a hundred-something extras and we had to sit in the blazing hot sun, as we waited for our part to happen. They snatched me and the other girl who was the other leading lady’s body double, and they put us through wardrobe and hair. Apparently makeup didn’t matter because the shot was going to be from a distance. They laced the crappiest weaves through our hair, gave me boots that were 1 size and a half too small, and a helmet that was too small for my head. My buddy who was a double was uncomfortable too. We thought, okay, now it’s time to ride our own scooters just down the street. Oh no, that wasn’t what happened at all! The van took us to the location, we waited on a curb for hours, and they didn’t even offer us chairs.
3 hours later, we started. The director made her get on the back of my scooter, and made me drive us up and over narrow bridges going full speed! We are both light-weight girls, but this scooter was heavy with us both on there, and getting up a narrow bridge was hard! Plus, I had to weave through a reflector post that was in the middle of the path, and do the same on the other end coming off of the bridge! Remember, I was not booked as a stunt double! I was booked as a body double.
At this point I knew they were trying to get us to do $1000-something stunts for a few $100. I was mad, and I even scraped my leg on the bridge! The crew was wretched and cruel because they put me and the other girl in an awkward, demanding position to follow through with this little scooter ride, that turned into a stunt!
Well, we got it done by night fall, and I was mad, tired and felt abused. I went to the production trailer, before I completely checked out, and showed my calculations of what they would have paid a stunt girl vs. paying me, and how I deserved more money! The producers thought I was ballzy as hell and I got my money that night! I stood up for what I believed in, and I got it! I had to get it for the other stunt girl too because she was too afraid to speak up-like most extras!
Most extras are too afraid to say what they feel on big Hollywood movie and TV sets, because they don’t want to be blacklisted or thrown off sets for good! It’s rare to get blacklisted for speaking the truth about a real issue, and let’s face it, you can’t let certain crews push you around! I’ve worked on a lot of sets that had a mean crew and mistreated the extras, but I’ve also worked on movies and TV shows that rocked!
I worked on a Farrelly Brothers movie, “The Heartbreak Kid”, as a body double/stand-in, and it was the BEST bigger movie set I’ve ever been on! The brothers were the coolest, along with the crew and actors! Waking up and going to Zuma Beach in Malibu everyday for work wasn’t so bad either! Not every set is bad, it’s just usually the ones where the person at the top doesn’t care-then it trickles down to everyone else below on the payroll. I know for a fact I’ve got that one figured out.
Lastly, I want to let everyone know who has seen my “Surviving in Hollywood” videos on YouTube (now private), that I haven’t changed my mind about “starting out as an extra”, I just don’t want you to make a career out of it, and I want you to only do it once in a while. The majority of extra work is not friendly, not clean, unhealthy for your mind and I encourage you to have a straight job for your main income. Do your auditions and classes still, but please don’t wind up doing stunts when you are not professionally trained, and please leave a movie or TV set if you do NOT feel comfortable. Getting a break from doing extra work is very rare-I’m not saying it can’t happen, but I want you to have a non-stressful time in Hollywood, or wherever the project is being shot, and go for the classes and auditions more than for the extra jobs! Also, film your own stuff and put it on YouTube!
I hope Gabriella Cedillo pulls through and has a full recovery, and I also hope that major movies and TV get a damn hold on these kind of problems, and start taking better care of these nice kids who are giving their time, and, their pretty faces and loving souls to be extras on their productions!
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