Meet my co-author, a real live movie extra!

written by Lee Strauss | Ginger Gold Mysteries

August 21, 2020

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As promised, this week I'd like to introduce you to my co-writer, Denise Jaden, whose day job is working as an Extra in Vancouver, Canada.

Writing Murder on Location was a lot of fun and if you like movies, especially getting a sneak peek behind the scenes of film making, I think you'll enjoy it too. The release date is less then a week away, so make sure you've pre-ordered your copy if you would like it to magically show up on your device on August 27th.

Denise Jaden is the author of several young adult novels and nonfiction books for writers, including the NaNoWriMo-popular guide Fast Fiction. Her new Cozy Culinary Mystery Series will launch later this year, and you can add the first book to your reading list on GoodReads. In her spare time, she homeschools her son (a budding filmmaker), acts in TV and movies, and dances with a Polynesian dance troupe. She lives just outside Vancouver, British Columbia, with her husband, son, and one very spoiled cat.

1.      How long have you been working in the film industry, and where do you work?

I started doing “extra work” or “background/BG” about seven years ago. At first, I signed up my son to try it out, but it often worked out well for me to work along with him or on my own as well. We get called all over the lower mainland, from several of the downtown studios to on-location shoots out in the remote town of Hope, and everything in between.

2.      Have you met anyone famous? If so, who?

Background performers are usually dissuaded from speaking to cast members, however, I’ve given “the nod” to Sandra Bullock and Clive Owen among others, and have been on some super friendly sets where I’ve gotten into conversations with some fairly famous people in Crafty (the snack area).

My favorite story is of when I got to not only meet, but work several seasons of a TV series with my teenage celebrity crush, Jack Wagner. At fifteen, I was part of his fan club, and so I brought a photo/card he’d sent me long ago to work one day to show him. He is super sweet and friendly and offered to take a photo with me and the card.

3.      What's your favorite thing about working as an extra?

This is a toss up between the food and the plentiful writing time. I have been really spoiled in the food department—enjoying everything from prime rib to grilled ahi tuna and Crème Brule. It’s such a treat to be cooked for, no matter what the dish! But I’ve also penned probably close to a dozen novels while working on set. There is a lot of downtime, and I find it much easier to concentrate among all the creative folk, where my only obligation is to go to set when they call me than I do at home. I am constantly saying that I love my job, and I mean it!

4.      What's your least favorite thing about working as an extra?

Okay, sure, there are a few drawbacks, like not finding out your call time or what you’ll need to pack for wardrobe until almost midnight (when you have to be on set by six a.m.) Or sticking hot shots on every surface of your body when you’re shivering for twelve hours in a tent in the middle of winter. It is definitely a job where you have to take the bad along with the good, but I appreciate the perks enough to grin and bear the not-so-fun parts.

5.      In Murder on Location, we meet a couple of actors who are a little hard to work with. Is this common in real life? Hopefully you haven't witnessed a death on set!

While I have not been in the unfortunate circumstance of witnessing a death on set, I actually have several BG friends who have tragic memories of stunts gone wrong that will stay with them forever. I’m thankful I have not been around on any of those awful days.

As far as actors who are a little hard to work with, I’d have to say that for the most part, the majority of them are really pleasant. There have been a few that seemed testy, or argued with a director here or there. As background performers, we don’t generally have to get too close, especially when actors are having a bad day, but I do recall one instance where a few of us had been instructed to walk quite close to the camera and an actor yelled at us for making too much noise on the gravel. That’s about the worst that I have personally experienced. 

All in all, though, it’s a great job and suits me and my lifestyle perfectly. I look forward to many more years as a background performer/author.


Sign up on Denise’s website to receive bonus content as well as updates on her new Cozy Mystery Series.

Find out more at www.denisejaden.com


Last chance to pre-order Murder on Location. Grab your copy now!

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