Thursday, July 05, 2007

Extra enjoys 'The Great Debaters'

Want to know what it's like being an extra?

Mike Midkiff had a positive experience on the set of "The Great Debaters." He is the director of public relations at East Texas Baptist University in Marshall, Texas. "The Great Debaters" is about the 1930s debate team from Wiley College, also in Marshall.

Here's the note Midkiff sent me recently:

"The call time for the extra’s was 5:15 a.m. for the ladies and 5:45 a.m. for the men. The location site was ranchland located just north of Shreveport. The set was a revival tent set up in a cow pasture. The scene was the debate between Wiley College and Oklahoma City held in Oklahoma. The scene that was shot was the debate between the two schools. There were about 110 extras that made the audience for the debate. I played a farmer, dressed in overalls and a farmer’s hat. I was located beside a car parked away from the tent and walked up to get closer to the tent so I could hear. I have no idea if I will be visible in the movie because that depends on how the movie is edited.

"The day went like this. Once we got into wardrobe (1935 era), we went to makeup. After make up at the base camp, which was a private Christian school located on Old Moringsport Road in north Shreveport, we were transported to the set about 10 minutes away. Actual filming of the scene started about 8:30 a.m. and did not wrap it up until around 8:00 p.m. that night. The pay was $58 for the first eight hours and then overtime pay after eight hours.

"I was very impressed with how smooth everything went. The movie set is crawling with hundreds of people who all have a job to do. It never took very long to move cameras and shot from another angle. Everyone was very courteous and friendly.

"I had heard that Denzel Washington was a tough director to work for. But what I saw on the set was a gentleman, who was very courteous to everyone. He definitely has a passion for what he does. I have a different mind set towards actors and actresses; they work hard at their craft. During the course of a scene there may have to deliver their part over and over and remain fresh. They must be able to jump right in and do their lines. Sometimes the scene being shot is out of sequence of the actual timeline of the movie and I don’t see how they keep it all together.

"It was along hot day but I am glad I did it. I have an experience that I can share over and over and looking forward to the movie coming out about Wiley College and seeing how the scene I played a part in comes out on the editing room floor. What Wiley College did back in the 1930s winning those debates is an important part of our local history here in Marshall."

Thanks, Mike.

Photo: Downtown Mansfield was the location for much of the filming of the movie The Great Debaters starring Denzel Washington. Movie extras stand outside a cafe in Mansfield. (Mike Silva/The Times)


Anonymous said...

Why in the WOLRD would the experience of an extra from MARSHALL make it into the SHREVEPORT times? One has to wonder what kind of connections this guy had....

Chris Lyon said...

It's not making the Shreveport Times, Mr. Anonymous. It's making Alex's blog. There is a big difference.

And, of course, it's important for some of us to know what others are experiencing on set.

Either I must be in a bad mood recently or something because no matter what it seems like some people just hate what's going on around here. My question is, Mr. Anonymous, if you SO dislike the times for its news reporting, why in the WORLD do you care enough to post about it? Go to or something.

Man, we find the same thing on If you don't like the news, go somewhere else and complain. The Shreveport Times is too big to bow to the 5-10 people in the whole city (and surrounding area) that have something to complain about.

I'm beginning to think some people complain for the sake of complaining.

Alexandyr Kent said...

How about a Fresca? Mmm? Ohh? Nnn?

Anonymous said...

Wow, you automatically assume that anonymous is a mr.... that is interesting. Anyway.
You shocked me, Mr. Chris Lyon, when you said "If you SO dislike the times for its new reporting, why in the wolrd do you care enough to post about it."

Perhaps she/he SOOOOO dislikes the reporting that she/he feels that they MUST say something about it instead of keeping there mouth shut while something they pay for (aka the newspaper) continues to produce a product they find less than satisfacotry. It's called consumer feedback dearie.
Besides, I think you missed the point of the previous post... why is the expereince of a person from Marshall being reported as news in Shreveport. There are plenty of people who have been cast as extras who live in Shreveport, why not use them?
This article should have been printed in the Marshall News Messanger.

Anonymous said...

Has anyone thought that maybe the folks who take the Times in Marshall like to see something from Marshall in the Times every once in awhile.
Mr. Kent could have not named the person and just reported what the person had said, then everyone would have been happy.

Anonymous said...

that, my friend, is what the marshall news paper is for.

yaguara2003 said...

Does anyone happen to know who is doing the extras casting for the GReat Debaters filming in Boston?
Or where they are filming and for how long?

Is the public invited to watch the filming?