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Extra and special effects expert Dan Smiczek on books

Some people read too much, and Readersvoice.com only encourages them. We ask people from all walks of life what their favorite books are, so we can pass on some reading tips to book lovers.You might want to check out some previous issues of readersvoice.com for more reading suggestions and interviews.For the first edition of 2004 readersvoice.com features Dan Smiczek, a movie and tv extra who went on to work in animation and special effects. So read on.

READERSVOICE.COM: Can you list your favorite books of all time?

DAN SMICZEK: Hmmm….I can only think of three that really rank high for me. Stranger in a Strange Land (Robert Heinlein) – Read this for a class in High School and it completely blew my mind! Still one of the most memorable books I’ve ever read.
A Canticle for Leibowitz (Walter M. Miller Jr.) – An excellent example to give everyone a little perspective on even our own history. One man’s lunch box is someone else’s holy relic.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s/Philosopher’s Stone – (J. K. Rowling) It really pisses me off when you hear some nimrod adults whining that it’s a kids book why would they read it. When I was working on the first movie I was a little skeptical but as soon as I started reading it I was completely sucked in.

It is a fantastic example of opening your imagination and reliving your youth. I am so happy that kids today are able to enjoy such an excellent adventure!

RV: Generally what sort of things do you like to read about?
DS: I’m a huge film fanatic so my interests tend to lean that way but I’m also someone who will pick up the latest thriller or a good sci-fi novel.

RV: What sort of newspapers, or magazines or journals do you read, for example about the visual effects industry you work in these days, or just generally?

DS: My free time runs pretty short these days but I do get one industry magazine that is fantastic! Cinefex.

RV: How did you get started as an extra, and what is it you enjoyed about it?

DS: Actually my first opportunity to be an extra pre-dates everything on my site. I’ve been a film nut ever since I was a little kid.

When I was still living in Houston I learned about an opportunity to be a part of a football crowd for the movie ‘The Faculty’ courtesy of (at the time) a little website for film geeks everywhere: Ain’t it Cool News.

So I dragged along a few co-workers for an all night shoot and had an absolute blast. There is just something about being on a set that I absolutely love. Maybe it’s the behind the scene nature of it all that most people don’t get to see.

When I moved out to LA it was definitely high on my priority list to find out how to be an extra out in LA. Fortunately I ran across Cenex/Central casting which at the time was one of the main casting agencies for all the shows on TV and also a lot of films in the LA area.

I basically went and signed up….that was all there was to it. Little did I know within a month or two I’d be standing on the set of The X-Files!