“I never said all actors are cattle; what I said was all actors should be treated like cattle.” -Alfred Hitchcock
Extras aka “Look at me, don’t you look at me” is a portrait series of movie extras culled from classic films released between 1925 and 2010. The artist’s process involves watching the movie in its entirety and then repeating the film to find the right moment to digitally capture the extra. Only one extra is selected from a film. The extra’s image is converted into a unique archival print.
In The Theatre of the Face: Portrait Photography Since 1900, Max Kozloff wrote that “movie portraits” are devoid of the power to touch us on a human level because of the glamour surrounding the subject. The larger than life status that is inferred upon the sitter blocks any possibility of authentic human element entering the picture.
While this maybe true for film stars, there is less chance of this happening with portraits of movie extras. Many of the actors are in the awkward position of achieving the status of being in a classic film, while at the same time being relegated to the periphery. In fact, many extras work under the uncertainty of not being fully sure of when or if the camera will capture them.
Star status seems to escape the extra, but then again so does obscurity. Like most of us, the actors in this series of movie portraits are caught somewhere in the middle.