How I became an extra on the CTA filming of "Little Fockers"

Emily passed along this fun story:

arricam300 and the red line.jpg

On Thursday night, Oct 8th, a friend and I went to go see The
Decemberists at the Riviera, which was an amazing show, and then we had
a few drinks afterward. All of a sudden I realized it was 1:35am
(Yikes!) and I decided to walk him home to walk off the beer and then
continue on a few blocks to the Sheridan stop to head up to my place
in Edgewater.

As I approached the stop, I saw all of the trucks and lights set
up and remembered that they were filming “Little Fockers”. As I entered
the station, I could see approx. 70-100 people lined up, and the line
snaked through the area where the turnstiles are. No one was moving,
and it occurred to me that they were extras, waiting for their scene to
be set up. This was quickly confirmed by a really tired-looking extra,
as I stood there, chatting away with him while waiting for my train. (I
was semi buzzed, and it was much more entertaining than standing above
on the northbound platform by myself in the cold)

All of a sudden, someone called them up to the train waiting
above to start shooting. And that’s when it occurred to me that I now
had a choice. The lightbulb went on. Could I possibly sneak in with the
extras and get away with it? I looked at all of the other extras in
line, and I was dressed exactly like they were, like a normal, everyday
L rider.  I had a split second to decide, the line was moving. I
thought to myself, “Self? How many opportunities do you get to crash a
major film set?” and with that, I decided to just blend in with them.

Once we all made it to the platform, we were told to “get in
[our] places; where [we] were yesterday”. Clearly, that didn’t apply to
me, so I picked a random car and quickly sat down. From that point on,
I did my best to blend in. I chatted with the rest of the extras, “Were
you here yesterday? 9 hours! I’m so tired!” and “I hear they’re going
to wrap us at 4:45am…” and then we sat there, in the cold, doors
open, for a while, doing nothing. Took pictures of the equipment at the
end of the L car. One of the extras stole some candy from an adjacent L
car and brought them to us, everyone cheered. Etc.

All of a sudden, the train began to move. We still hadn’t
been instructed to do anything, and so there we sat, while scenes got
filmed in other cars. I was looking forward to seeing DeNiro, or
Stiller, or anyone, and nervous about being called out as an imposter.
The next thing I knew, we were at the Chicago stop, which I thought
unusual, since we had started at Sheridan. Finally, shortly after
stopping and a few people were shuffled around, one of the Production
Assistants came into our car, looked at us, and said, “OK, everybody
out, follow me!” Hooray! Finally, we were going to be in a scene!<

But no, it was then that he declared that we weren’t needed,
and to pile into the white vans waiting below. I longingly looked at
the other extras in the other cars, still there. On the way down the
stairs, I overheard the call for Stiller to come up to the train for
his scene, and we walked right past the trailers. It was at this point
that I also realized that I had decision #2 to make- I had no idea
where these white vans were going! It was now 3:15 am, and now we were
down in the loop, (I live close to the Granville stop) so I ultimately
decided that wherever these white vans were going had to be closer to
my place than the loop, so I climbed in.

During the ride, I quietly asked one of the other extras, “Where are we going again?” (since, obviously, I’m supposed to know)
“The school, where we were before”. RIIIIIIIIIIIGHT. the SCHOOL! No,
that didn’t help. Fortunately this school ended up being close
to Irving Park and Broadway, and as everyone filed out of the van into
the building, I pretended to take a very important and hard-to-hear
phone call (because who doesn’t get important phone calls at 3:40am?)
and slinked away.

There I was then, 2 blocks away from the Sheridan stop,
where I began my adventure almost 2 hours before. And I had nothing to
show for it but a good story. but it was definitely worth it!


Leave a comment
  • "so I ultimately decided that wherever these white vans were going had to be closer to my place than the loop, so I climbed in."

    That's a brave assumption. Chicago is a big city with parts other than the North Side. Funny story though.

  • And I think you probably mean Wilson/Montrose and Broadway, where Truman College is. There is no school at Irving and Broadway to my knowledge.

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