I spent all last Thursday as an extra on Netflix’s upcoming series, House of Cards (an Americanized version of a British series), and had a great time.
Prior to “House of Cards,” I worked as a policeman on “The Dark Knight Rises” (TDKR).
You would think, since TDKR had a massive budget compared to “House of Cards” that it would have been better in terms of amenities, but strangely enough, it wasn’t (though that may have had something to do with TDKR being filmed on Wall Street, and the massive number of extras used on that particular film).
Both productions, as far as I could tell, treated us well, though I thought that we were especially well-treated by the ‘Cards’ staff.
“House of Cards” (HoC) was budged around $100 million dollars for 26 episodes (which isn’t much when you consider that HBO paid $50 million for the pilot of “Boardwalk Empire” alone ). It didn’t pay that well, though you don’t work as an extra (that’s not a member of SAG–the Screen Actors Guild) for the money.
That being said, the food was plentiful, and quite good, and the waiting area was air-conditioned; which is a very good thing when the temperature is somewhere in the upper Eighties.
In both cases, the hours were long, though HoC’s was the most time I had spent on any set so far. I arrived around 2 pm on Thursday, and finished up around 6 am the next day. In hindsight it wasn’t so bad–much of being an extra is about waiting, after all. I was invited to film Thurday, but had to refuse because I couldn’t get out of work.
What made it a good time (besides the food) is that everyone, from the PA’s (production assistants) to props and wardrobe were very efficient and friendly (not always the case, in my experience). Most of the actors were as well, though Kevin Spacey–who happened to be on set that day–was particularly standoffish and seemed to be ignoring as many extras as he could–though I hear he was friendly towards the child extras, so there’s that.