Nelson Spent the Day as an Extra on Yellowstone
I've had Yellowstone on my list of shows to watch for a while. When I saw they were looking for locals to serve as extras during filming of the upcoming season - it got me motivated to finally get on it. I've been powering through episodes every weekend as each one you finish leaves you wanting to watch another one, and another.
I sent in a general submission to be an extra since filming was scheduled to happen around Darby/Hamilton/Missoula for the season. I figured It was close so I would apply and if I got a call - great......but if I didn't, no big deal. But here's a tip - if you did the same thing as me and are trying to get picked for the show, make sure you also apply for the particular roles they post on the Facebook casting page. I resubmitted when they were looking for "casino patrons" and they called me about 10 minutes later. They definitely suggest you continue to apply for any role you would qualify for.
I had to take a COVID-19 test, answer a health questionnaire the following two days, and practice safety measures to avoid becoming infected with the coronavirus. After testing negative I was good to go for my big taste of Hollywood.
Today (9/2) was the day of the shoot. I reported for duty at Gray Wolf Peak Casino for an 8:48 AM call time. The casino was reserved just for Yellowstone shooting for the day. I arrived, showed my official looking QR code on my phone for entry, had my temperature checked, and reported to the holding area for extras. A quick bite from the catering truck, some paperwork to fill out, a trip to wardrobe for clothing approval, and it was time to get to work.
Crew members selected people from the group of extras and took them inside the casino to fill out the room. I went in with about the third small group of individuals. The scene was focused on a couple of poker tables and I was one of the people playing slots around the tables. My role was to walk from one side of the room to the other and sit down at an open slot machine and start playing. You don't really know how weird it is to pretend to play a slot machine until you do it. It's just not natural. And a casino seems super weird when it's so quiet.
We finally started filming at almost 11 AM. They filmed two scenes and a couple other simple shots for the day. It took about 4 hours to film what will probably be about 30 seconds worth of television. It was pretty repetitive - film the scene, wait around for crew to reset, film again and repeat. But also pretty neat to watch it happen and wonder how it'll look when the episode airs.
It was pretty cool to see all the lighting, cameras, amount of crew, director's directions, angles and setup of shots, and everything else that goes into putting just one little scene together. I learned some tricks of the trade: beer was actually cream soda, martinis were 7-Up, and cigarettes looked like real cigarettes but were actually burning incense. My favorite part might have been the guy in the scene that had a bushy beard. We all had to put our face coverings on between takes. Every time he took his mask off before a scene he had a "beard handler" that would poof out his beard because the mask smashed it flat. Now that's some inside info you won't find on Entertainment Tonight!
Did I rub elbows with Kevin Costner? No. Were all the stars on set? No. The only real cast member appearing in a scene was the guy who plays Thomas Rainwater's driver, Mo. I wasn't in one of the shots so it was pretty cool to watch him shoot the scene a few times while watching from a distance and seeing it through the monitors that the directors were watching. There was another guy at another poker table and it seemed like he might have been being set up as a character in season 4.....we'll see.
At 3 PM myself and most of the extras were done and free to go. It was a fun experience and pretty neat to see not only how it was filmed, but how it came together with all the moving parts. That might prove to be the end of my acting career. But they paid me $90.83 to take a COVID-19 test, $35 for gas, and $121.10 for the day. I'll always be able to say I made $246.93 during my run in Hollywood. Now I'll just have to wait and see if anything but the back of my head makes it into the show!