What could be finer than sitting in the shade under a tent, enjoying the beach in front of the Ocean Beach pier? Getting paid to do it! Thousands of San Diegans did just that between February and June, awaiting their chance to work as "background," the lingo for extras, on the new TV series Terriers, set in O.B.
Terriers began airing in September, Wednesdays at 10 p.m. on FX. (If you missed it, catch past shows on the FX Web site.) The hour-long drama centers on a pair of hapless, if not seedy, unlicensed private investigators. It stars Donal Logue (whose credits include the TV show Grounded for Life and cult indie film The Tao of Steve) as Hank Dolworth, an ex-cop and reluctant private eye teamed with his friend Britt Pollack, played by Michael Raymond James (True Blood ).
I was a Terriers extra for one day. I signed up online at Background San Diego, and two days later, I was called to work at 8:30 a.m. for Episode 1, "Dog and Pony," which filmed in Ocean Beach and Del Mar Racetrack. We were fed fabulously, breakfast and lunch, and continuously supplied with beverages, fruits and snacks. I did actually "work" for about 20 minutes, crossing an alley while the ratty blue Ford Courier that Hank and Britt drive sped past. As an AFTRA member, I was paid $139 for the day. Non-union extras received around $60.
According to Cathy Anderson at the San Diego Film Commission, between 250 and 300 new extras were used each week during the 17 weeks of shooting. Terriers poured more than $20 million into the local economy, with 4,800 hotel room nights. More than 100 local crew were hired, and several local actors won speaking roles.
Want to be an extra? Register online at backgroundsandiego.com, the casting company for Stu Segall Productions. For year-round work, contact Tina Real (tinareal.com), who has been casting in San Diego since 1978. You’ll never watch a TV show again without noticing the extras.