After last night, I can now say that I’ve been in a film with Brad Pitt. So I guess I can cross that one off the bucket list.
I was an unpaid extra in Moneyball, the movie based on the book written by Michael Lewis. Lewis was a fly on the wall during the 2002 Oakland A’s season, showing the inner workings of the organization and the quirks of general manager Billy Beane.
Brad Pitt has been cast as Beane, Jonah Hill as assistant GM Paul Depodesta (though now they’ve changed the name of the character, since DePodesta didn’t like the way they portrayed him) and Phillip Seymour Hoffman as field manager Art Howe.
It was really interesting to see how a movie gets made. My friend, who was at the Coliseum when they filmed Angels in the Outfield, said that they used cardboard cutouts of people, in addition to extras in the crowd. For Moneyball, they took 300-400 people and just moved us around to be in the background. They’ll use CGI stuff to make it look like there’s a full crowd.
I loved seeing how some people had really gotten into character. I wore a throwback batting practice cap and my Barry Zito shirt for the first night, last Monday. I saw others in old jerseys… Mulder, Hudson, Frank Menechino. But others wore Holliday and Bailey stuff, so I don’t think the organizers really cared about that.
Once we got in, we noticed (on Monday) that the tarps covering the third deck were off, just as they were in 2002. If only they could knock out Mt. Davis for the throwback scenes.
Another thing I was really impressed with was the realism. Players were wearing authentic jerseys to the time period, such as the fact that the Royals were wearing these away jerseys. The outfield ads changed too, with Fox Sports Net Channel 40 replacing Comcast, and the Bud Light ad replaced in right field. Raymond, one of the Left Field Drummers (he’s got the bongo drum) was invited to be a part of the movie too, so it’s good they’ve got the true Oakland ambiance… at least I hope that doesn’t get cut. Some guy was even acting as pom-pom guy one day!
Some of the players even looked spot on, such as the actors playing David Justice and Jim Thome. I’m pretty excited to see how everything looks when the film comes out (one of the production guys said it could take up to a year and a half). Philip Seymour Hoffman had the Art Howe mannerisms nailed, at least from what I could tell. Beane was wearing a Liverpool FC shirt under his jacket, which made me laugh a little.
Anyway, back to being an extra. It was awkward at times. We’d hear things like “if the ball is hit fair, just look to left field, since that’s where the hit is supposed to go.” They’d have us pantomime, basically pretending in silence to cheer and boo and clap and get food and go to the bathroom, as the actors did dialogue.
It was really intriguing, getting an inside look at how a movie is made. Last night, we were there from 9 p.m. until about 2:30 a.m., and the only scene they had filmed was a pitching change.
Another night, I stayed for a few hours, and they filmed a Twins celebration from pretty much every angle. It was amazing seeing just how much work goes into a shot which may only be 30 seconds of the entire movie. They’d shoot scenes over and over and over, until they got it just right.
All in all, it was a fun experience, but not one I’d do again. I just did it for the hell of it, but there were a lot of people there who were seriously trying to get into a movie or just wanted to mob Brad Pitt. It was a little irritating sometimes.
Now, I just have to wait for the DVD to come out.