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Extra and special effects wiz Dan Smiczek

Dan Smiczek talks about life as a movie and tv extra...

READERSVOICE.COM: What roles have you played while working as an extra?
DAN SMICZEK: I pulled off the college student thing a few times but I fell into the spectrum of Police/Paramedics/Secret Service/etc….basically anything with a uniform. I fortunately had THE average size that all the wardrobe departments had for uniforms. That combined with having the general look of someone who would be in that job gave me a lot of great opportunities.
The cop look gave me opportunities on a ton of shows: The X-Files, Profiler, Pretender, Angel, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and The West Wing.
RV: What’s the oddest thing you’ve had to do as an extra?
DS: I almost had to think about that one….but then it hit me. One time I worked on this Playboy TV show called Sex Court sitting in the “courtroom”. Basically we did a lot of cheering as the court guests had simulated sex. It was definitely a very odd experience!

RV: Have you met stars, and what were they like?
DS: You tend to meet stars all the time depending on the situation. There are generally two types of extra experiences.
Either it is an enormous call of a 50-200 people or only a dozen or so. The smaller the better….if there are too many the experience can be very unpleasant….you start to feel like cattle.
In the smaller shoots you are generally standing around with the stars for hours at a time. Generally every star I met was very friendly. It’s pretty much an unwritten rule that you don’t go up and talk to any of the actors but if they are the one starting up the conversation it’s no problem.
Let’s see…..David Duchovny was a really nice guy considering every time I talked to him it seemed to be about 4am on a night shoot. Angel star David Boreanaz was also pretty talkative and joking around with everyone.
On Profiler I found the cast in general to be one of the friendliest. Julian McMahon (I think he is on Nip and Tuck now after being a regular on Charmed) came over and introduced himself…..really nice guy.

In general I can’t really think of a bad experience with any of the actors I was around.
They either fell into the camp of being really friendly with eve ryone or being friendly but keeping to themselves….it’s really a mixed bag. I never saw a case or experienced any poor treatment.
In general the stars tend to keep to themselves but they are a friendly bunch. A few are snooty here and there….but in general they remember where they came from.
RV: How much of the stories the gossip magazines tell about actors on the set is true?
DS: I’d have to say a good amount of the stories are based in fact in someway. The stories tend to get grossly distorted but if you hear something….there is normally a reason. Life on a set is unlike anything you can really imagine. You have a group of people that work large amounts of hours together and in some ways become a family. But it’s also a compressed version of High School and summer camp thrown together. There is going to be drama. When you have people as passionate as this you are bound to have an….interesting environment. But that’s what I love about it. It’s very rare to find so many people so into what they are doing all together working their butts off!