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The Michigan Daily - michiganclaily.com

Friday, October 29, 2010 - 5

The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom Friday, October 29, 2010 - 5

Michigan students make
it big in the background

A scream-inducing sequel

With state tax
incentives, it's easy
to be an extra
By EMILY BOUDREAU
Daily Arts Writer
Thanks largely to state film pro-
duction incentives passed in 2008,
the fabled 15 minutes of fame are
well within reach in Michigan. it's
now quite possible to experience
some watered-down Hollywood
glamour in the state as an extra in a
big-name movie.
The industry has been increas-
ingly active on the University of
Michigan campus and around
Ann Arbor. Many students have
seen the likes of Clive Owen or
Pierce Brosnan striding across the
Diag from a distance, and actually
working with them (well, standing
behind them) on film isn't nearly as
difficult as one might expect.
"Really, it's not that hard to
become an extra at all," said
Michelle Begnoche, communica-
tions adviser for the Michigan
Film Office. "It's really just a mat-
ter of showing up. Productions
post casting calls everywhere - on
Craigslist, industry websites. The
Michigan Film Office's website
puts them up as well. There's no
real science to it."
Some in the area have been sur-
prised at the ease with which they
made it onto the screen.
"I heard about being an extra
from some friends in Grosse Point,"
said LSA junior Chrissie Costakis.
"It was during the time they were
filming (Drew Barrymore's roller
derby movie) 'Whip It.' So I just
signed up with a registry online,
with my picture and my informa-
tion. That was -like two years ago.
Then finally, this summer, they
contacted me about being an extra
in (the latest Miley Cyrus movie)
'LOL: (Laughing out Loud).'"

Alex Fishman, a Michigan resi-
dent and student at the Univer-
sity of Pennsylvania, stumbled into
being an extra in "Scream 4" in a
similar fashion.
"I'm a huge fan of Wes Craven
movies and I found a link on a web-
site I'd heard about and just regis-
tered. The movie people e-mailed
me and I showed up at six in the
morning. Mostly, I wanted to meet
celebrities, though. It wasn't about
a big acting break," Fishman said.
Others take their roles more seri-
ously. LSA senior Jesse Belanger,
who's been an extra twice now, has
been agent shopping and got head-
shots in the hopes of pursing act-
ing beyond extras parts, while LSA
sophomore Cynthia - Zhang has
been modeling since she was 16.
Zhang has been an extra in three
films. She gets notifications about
casting calls through her modeling
agency.
"I'm not expecting to get expo-
sure or anything by being an extra.
I just like to see how movies are
made, and that's kind of why I do
it. There are a lot of things that
you would just never really think
about," Zhang said.
Zhang was an extra in "This
Must Be the Place" with Sean Penn.
But apart from a brief exchange
with Penn, Zhang recalls, bizarrely
enough, a glass of orange soda most
vividly. She played a waitress.
"I watched a woman pour
orange soda into a glass over and
over and over, trying to get the
right volume and the right color,"
Zhang said.
A huge fuss was made over the
orange soda, but nobody seemed
to notice that Zhang, who had been
outfitted in a traditional Chinese
dress, was supposed to be Japa-
nese, she said.
"It's always the really small stuff
that you wouldn't think would
matter that actually does. I mean,
I really don't think I would notice
if a glass of orange soda wasn't the

right shade," Zhang said.
Fishman, Belanger, Costakis
and Zhang all had preconceived
notions of what it would be like to
be an extra. They felt they could
probably look at a movie scene
and tell you how it was made and
whether it would have been pain-
ful to film as an extra. Basically, it's
not glamorous work.
Costakis's role was in a club
scene in "LOL." She faked cheering
all day.
"We had to pantomime because
they didn't want any noise so I was
just kind of jumping around with
my mouth open and a silly expres-
sion on my face," Costakis said. "It
was exhausting."
Although she stood ten feet
away from Miley Cyrus, Costakis
didn't consider the proximity to be
one of the perks of the job.
Technically, extras aren't sup-
posed to talk to the stars. You speak
only when spoken to. Sometimes,
though, there is a bit of gray area in
which it's possible to have that shot
to talk the celebrities.
"As long as you're respect-
ful, I don't think it's a problem,"
Belanger said. "I was in this one
scene (in 'Scream 4') and between
takes, Neve Campbell was just sit-
ting.on a couch reading this philo-
sophical book about living and
dying. So you know, I asked her
about it. It seemed pretty interest-
ing."
According to Belanger, the expe-
rience is really what you make it.
"I never really spent time in the
little holding room. I went out and
watched them film," he said. "Once
I snuck up to the murder room,
which was pretty cool. It was all
bloody because somebody was sup-
posed to have been hacked on the
bed."
Sometimes, he said, it's best just
to sit back and listen.
"Eavesdrop. That's key. I mean,
you shouldn't do it in real life, but
See EXTRAS, Page 6

By NICK COSTON
Daily Arts Writer
if there's one architectural ben-
efit to McMansions, it should be
that ghosts can't effectively haunt
them. Even the
most determined
ghoul is bound
to get lost in the
cul-de-sac maze
of potted palms, ACftVy2
self-cleaning At Quality16
pools, Thomas and*Rave
Kinkade sailboat ant
watercolors and Pramount
superstitious for-
eign housekeepers that comes with
every Silicon Valley nouveau riche
three-and-a-half bath home. Right?
Unfortunately for the Reys -
the protagonists of "Paranormal
Activity 2" - this is not the case. A
family as postmodern as the house
they live in, mom Kristi (television
stalwart Sprague Grayden, "24")
and company find themselves play-
ing unwilling hosts to a disruptive
supernatural guest. Their haunt-
ing is shared with the audience,
thanks to a security camera system
installed in the wake of a burglary
during which nothing was stolen.
Convenient for us. The first film
made it clear that demons hate it
when you videotape them; perhaps
the demon staged the break-in to
give itself a head start.
Like every dumb family since
"Poltergeist," the Reys refuse
to leave. They don't express any
unease at leaving each other alone
in the house for extended periods
of time, and they don't take the pro-
active step of contacting Southern
California's foremost demonologist,
as the first film's protagonists did.
But these aren't quarrels to be dis-
sected frame by frame in SAC 236;
they are tobe shouted at the screen,
in a rousing chorus with the rest of
the petrified peanut gallery.
Where the film genuinely falls
flat is in the conclusion. It should
be so easy - just cut to black after
a jolt. Hey, what's this noise coming

The E-trade baby loves investing, but hates the dark.

from th
dead! B
little me
seeks t
original
as possi
all the
what sh
in a dar
balloon
loon's n
it deflat
balloon
worth p
Ultin
the film
ies dras
If youv
close yo
De
be
enough
yoursel
then sc
and th
your da
some m
see the]
The
watchin
the san
"Parant
annual
the "Sav
watch it

he basement? Slam! You're effect does not work when you're
ut it aims a little higher, a on the couch and you can pause
ore meta, at its own peril. It the film for a bathroom break, and
c connect the sequel to the oh mom just called, and oh shucks
I as explicitly and tangibly your French bread pizza got burnt
ble, and the ending coda lets in the microwave. In the theater,
air out of the balloon after you are trapped. You can't get out
ould be the final crescendo of the house, just like the Reys. But
k basement. Either pop the you're not alone. You've got dozens
or cut the shot at the bal- of friends around you, toprotectyou,
ost distended, but don't let just as you're there to protect them.
e. Still, the expansion of the You might notice "Paranormal
is maddeningly tense, and Activity 2" is being shown in big
aying to experience. multiplexes, whereas the original
nately, don't try to gauge first appeared at the State Theater in
's merit in a vacuum. It var- midnight screenings. The effect isn't
tically with what you want altogether lost on the screen. In the
want to bite your nails, and first film, no one knew what would
'ur eyes, and open them long happen. Now, everyone knows
what's coming; it's just a question of
when. Is anticipation as frightening
love to without the ignorance? Tliat's up to
Imonsl 0 you to shriek and find out.
Most species of hot peppers go
On camera. untouched by animals; humans,
meanwhile, harvest them, grind
them up, splash them on our tacos,
to scream, and then laugh at and, for some reason, we act sur-
f for having screamed, and prised when our mouths catch fire.
ream and grab your date, The same is true of horror films.
en apologize for grabbing Fear is not an emotion to which we
te so hard, and then scream merely resign ourselves - we invite
ore, there's no reason not to it. We want to savor it, if only for a
film. few hours at a time. "Paranormal
original was only worth Activity 2" delivers that sensation.
g in a crowded theater, and It might not be as innovative or sur-
ne is true of the sequel. If prising as the first, the same way
rmal Activity" becomes an a Zagnut bar isn't as peanutty as a
Halloween franchise like Snickers. But come on. Halloween
w" series, make a rule: do not hasn't changed in decades, and we
on television. The slow burn still eat that candy gladly.

oilt htCoio
A film with' Conviction'

By IMRAN SYED
Daily Arts Writer
Sometimes when the true story
is just too amazing, the movie can
only be a let-
down. "Apollo
13," "Secretari-
at," the "Miracle" Convjdon
on ice - such
incredible stories At the State
have a certain Fox Searchlight
indescribable
wonder specifi-
cally because they're true. But,
dramatized and sanitized for Hol-
lywood, that amazing true-life
story can come across as sappy,
false or downright boring.
There really isn't a more unbe-
lievable true story turned into film
than "Conviction." The film man-
ages not to deflate the magic and
impossible triumph that is its true
story - even if there's a little more
* schmaltz than most will care for.
Kenny Waters (Sam Rockwell,
"Iron Man 2") was the town screw-
up; always in trouble, though he
never really meant harm. So his
sister Betty Anne (Hilary Swank,
"Million Dollar Baby") wasn't too
shocked when she was called to the
police station one day to bail him
out. However, this time was differ-
ent: Kenny was soon charged with
brutally murdering a woman, and
would be convicted and sentenced
to life in prison.
Convinced r of her brother's

innocen
lawyer'
help hip
become
ing tor
job, she
diploma
Eventua
Innocen
City, sh
by prov
that he
murder
Film
partially
pus, "C
despond
of pleas
more th
and reje
the resil
characte
Fora
to do w
A t
WE
requires
dedicat
ter. And
such an
opportu
humanN
that wo
filnsge

ice, yet unable to afford a emotion to engage with the larger
with the concern or skill to implications of that one-in-a-mil-
m, Betty Anne decided to lion accomplishment. "Convic-
that lawyer. Despite hav- tion" pulls no such punches.
raise children and hold a The depiction of the tedious,
obtained a GED, a college almost futile work done every day
and finally a law degree. by law school innocence projects
ally, with the help of the across the country is appropriately
ace Project in New York somber. The public only hears of
;e exonerated her brother the one percent of cases that suc-
ing through DNA evidence ceed and lead to a very public exon-
could not have been the eration, but there are hundreds of
er. innocent people who cannot be
ed entirely in Michigan, and saved. As the movie portrays quite
y on the University cam- poignantly, there comes a point in
onviction" is - despite its our system of justice where guilt
lent core - an uplifting tale or innocence are no longer the
ant people. While there are question; the fate of an innocent
an enough scenes of misery man turns instead on sometimes
ection, the film focuses on entirely arbitrary rules of finality
lience of its larger-than-life in judicial judgments.
ers, and rightly so. From Kenny and Betty Anne's
simpleuneducated woman unimaginable triumph, we can
hat Betty Anne Waters did learn a lot about the fragility of
freedom, even in the fairest, most
considered legal system in the
rue story told world. In givingus this consequen-
tial question to ponder, Rockwell's
ell, for once. powerful performance is unflinch-
ingly raw, yet touching. Swank is
solid as well, though her depiction
never rises above a politely earnest
s an absurd amount of inquiry.
ion and strength of charac- Kenny Waters was wrongfully
1 in a dramatic depiction of imprisoned for 18 years. The film
amazing person is a golden chooses not to mention that Kenny
nity to analyze the vigor of died within months of being
willpower and the systems released from prison. That omis-
irk to dissuade it. Lesser sion reeks of disingenuity, but it's
t too caught up in persnal the only part of the J.lm that does.

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