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Annie in Austin
Welcome! As "Annie in Austin" I blog about gardening in Austin, TX with occasional looks back at our former gardens in Illinois. My husband Philo & I also make videos - some use garden images as background for my original songs, some capture Austin events & sometimes we share videos of birds in our garden. Come talk about gardens, movies, music, genealogy and Austin at the Transplantable Rose and listen to my original songs on YouTube. For an overview read Three Gardens, Twenty Years. Unless noted, these words and photos are my copyrighted work.
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Monday, October 30, 2006

Directed by Duplass

In this movie-mad town, everyone knows someone who was an extra in a movie or who was a member of the crew. Austin bloggers reported their strange experiences with antique uniforms during the filming of The Alamo, and some friends described doing time with Johnny Knoxville as extras for The Ringer. They'd moan about the tedium of filming, then two seconds later were saying how cool it was to see how movies are made. We’d heard similar good/bad stories from people who were extras for movies made in Chicago, and hoped we’d get a chance to find out for ourselves.
Early last week I got an email, inviting us to be extras for a movie being filmed by Jay & Mark Duplass. As soon I saw who the filmmakers were, I emailed back a definite 'yes', asking that both Philo & I be put on the list. We liked the Duplass brothers’ last movie very much. It was one of two movies I talked about in my June 21st post if you want to check the archives.

Back then I said that this ”…combination road picture/relationship movie is called The Puffy Chair. Jay and Mark, the Duplass brothers, some-time-Austin residents, made the film on an incredibly small budget using many ways to keep costs down: one brother is the director and cameraman, the other stars and acts as producer, family members were talked into giving financial support and taking roles as actors, the homes of family & friends are used as sets, and the number of takes was kept short.
The performances are a delight, and we want to see these people again. Rhett Wilkins is making a habit of playing quirky brothers, since he is the main character’s nature-boy brother in this movie, and the main character’s older brother in Jumping Off Bridges. There are parts of this movie that leave you limp from laughing.
The Duplass Brothers were present at our showing of the movie, and they are hilarious and articulate in person. Mark Duplass has an intense and expressive look, reminding me somehow of Martin Landau when he was very young. Back in 1959, Landau had to be the villain in North By Northwest, but Mark gets to be the lead in a world that better appreciates interesting faces.”

You can read more about the movie at the Official Site. This October, after screenings at festivals and some theaters, The Puffy Chair became available on DVD through Netflix. Now even if you live where access to independent films is limited, you have a chance to enjoy this movie.

Last weekend we went to the filming site for the new project, and found out that many of the other people were experienced at being extras. There were some professional film actors in the group, as well as a local stage actress. We heard about their previous movie work and noticed that some extras brought additional articles of clothing and reading material. All we brought was a tin of Altoids.

It won’t be giving anything away if I tell you that we extras portrayed members of an audience in a movie theater – that’s already been in the movie blogs
It won’t be giving anything away to say how fascinating it was to watch Jay & Mark and their cast & crew in action.
I’ll only give away my one, tiny ‘extra’ moment which happened during a brainstorming session about one line of dialogue. I made a very audible wisecrack, causing Jay Duplass to look up, smile and say “That’s really funny!” Then he laughed. I found it very cool to make a movie director laugh, especially since he’s the same age as my kids.

Twenty-two years ago we had a big party, and I dressed as Magenta from the Rocky Horror Picture Show. For 2006, this hat and official Puffy Chair T-shirt will be my costume!
Happy Halloween!

EDITED JUNE 15, 2008
We didn't know what the movie title would be back when we were extras in October 2006, but the Duplass brothers named their horror/relationship comedy Baghead. It played Sundance and is now premiering in Austin (playing at the Regal Arbor and at the Alamo Drafthouse) even before it opens on East and West coasts. Philo and I saw the movie (yes, we are visible!) and I'll be posting about it soon.


  1. What fun! I saw the Puffy Chair a couple of months ago, and it was hilarious. Now that it's coming out on DVD, I'll have to rent it so my husband can see what he missed.

    Your Magenta was great. Have a fun Halloween this year too!

  2. I have Netflix and will immediately put the Puffy Chair in the queue. My brother is an actor and I know Altoids don't fill the void during the wait. Did you go home with any (Altoids) in the box? Magenta! Great photo & costume. I like what you will wear this year. Sounds like a lot of fun being an extra! Happy Halloween!

  3. Magenta was always my fave, too. But I never had a costume. However, when Tim Curry came for the anniversary party at the Paramount my son was only six weeks old and I dressed him up as one of Alice Cooper's Billion Dollar Babies (mascara and all).

    How cool that you were an extra. The call went out in our neighborhood newsletter but I didn't want to do it by myself.

    News flash--AJM says they're filming this minute down the street at Peter Pan Mini Golf.

  4. Magenta looks great! but I am having a hard time deciding if that is Salvador Dali or Rocky with some sticky bandage residue on his upper lip with you.

  5. Pam & Judith - I want to see the Puffy Chair again, too. The Altoids were enough, since we were there only 4 hours. We could have had pizza afterward at a different location, but we had somewhere else we needed to be.

    Judith - any chance we've seen your brother act?

    Christopher, my son had been walking about a month, making such tentative steps that we decided he should be a turn-of-the-century tightwalker.

    MSS, you live in such a cool part of town, darn it! The Tightrope walker did give us a heads-up one night as to where Quentin T was filming last month. We didn't see him, but the lovely young Vanessa Ferlito was there... we knew her from Man of the House with Tommy Lee Jones, but she's better known for CSI/NY.

    I'm glad I showed the photo to you guys - back then, no one at the party knew about the Rocky Horror Show so my impersonation was a dramatic flop.


  6. Annie, There is a chance you've seen my brother. http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0154914/
    He mostly does theater in Boston & NYC, off Broadway (lots of Shakespeare). I'm too chicken to act but sure have fun being introduced to the actors my brother & his wife know. I love to 'brag' about my lil' brother--he's a great guy and very talented. I do envy the parties you have in Austin! Must be great fun.

  7. That sounds like fun to be part of a movie as an extra! I will have to rent puffy chair!

  8. That sounds like it was fun. I was an extra in a big budget movie years ago. To tell the truth, I think I would much rather have been in a low budget or ultra low budget movie. I think there is nothing more cool than a really low budget movie that catches on.

  9. Judith, thanks for the link. "Next Stop Wonderland" was a movie I intended to look for, and now have a additional reason.

    Nelumbo and Gary - who can resist seeing the process?
    Enjoying the process rather than the product is the only way to do it - it's doubtful whether anyone could actually see us in the background, and most people get edited out anyway! Gary - were you visible in the finished movie?

    People who were extras for the recent Mke Judge movie "Idiocracy" were disappointed that their scenes were totally deleted... now are hoping there will be a DVD and the scenes will be in the extras.

    Thanks for commenting!

  10. I love your adventures in film, what fun! And I am so impressed with your Magenta costume, great photo, Annie!

  11. Annie-in-the-movies, not just in Austin anymore. Great pictures, too.

  12. It all sounds like a bit of excitement and something out of the ordinary.
    You made a very attractive Magenta with your little tightrope walker :) Fun memories!


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