The mountains of extras in films are fascinating. How do movie crews fill streets, restaurants, auditoriums, with all of these hopeful, eager faces who know they’ll be nothing more than a dot on the screen? When an interesting or particularly bleak face is caught in the background, is she is excited to be featured at all in a film, or is she miserable because she isn’t the star?
We already know far too much about most actors headlining a film, from their Friday night party spots to their romantic flings. The extras do have one shining benefit over the leading actors: they are the ones with the mystery, they are the enigmas.
Miranda July and Roe Ethridge apparently had the same train of thought when they created their most recent photo project. In a celebration of those meant to be left in the background, she drags extras out of your peripheral vision and forces you to notice them.
July takes it upon herself to dress up as one extra from each movie’s scene. This is a tribute to the extra’s ubiquitous anonymity. If July had dressed up as Olivia Newton-John, the difference would be painfully obvious and perhaps a little too comical. But disguised as the whooping girl in the background? We’ll buy it.