Monday, January 10, 2011

Extras and Re-enactors

My wife had asked me a question about the Safari Re-enactment in my last post. She was warning me to be careful about inexperienced re-enactors. Truth be told, 99.9999 percent of the re-enactors don't worry me due to the nature of the beast.

Re-enactors strive to relive a point in time. This involves not just learning the history involved but having the proper weapons, clothing and support gear. That can run the gambit from a proper shooting bag and boots to a saddle, tent and other camp gear available in the period. Even cannons get into the game. Some do it better than others, but safety with firearms is paramount to everyone.

Some years ago a gentleman, saddly no longer with us, started providing producers of period films with re-enactors. The advantages were obvious. We would arrive on location with the correct clothing or uniforms, accessories and weapons. As re-enactors we were old hands at camping on location, and didn't have to travel back and forth. Often our camps could be used as part of the set dressing.

Our folks already knew how to march and the manual of arms for the time period. In addition to infantry this gentleman also supplied cavalry and artillery. Counting a scene where I stood in as a gun captain, I worked as all three. With a trip through hair and makeup each morning and we were ready to work.

In addition hair and make up extras had to be issued everything we brought with us. Being ready to work took them three times a long.

The difference between re-enactors and extras without this background showed up when filming THE ROUGH RIDERS a few years ago. Lord knows accidents happen, but they are much more common when handling unfimular equipment. Example - during a battle scene an extra carrying a Spanish Rile with fixed bayonet tripped and put said bayonet through the leg of a re-enactor.

There was no permanent damage. The re-enactor recovered and the extra got away.

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