A Grand Experience

My Experience as a Movie Extra

The entertainment industry has taken a huge hit during the corona virus pandemic. Slowing of production and ensuring the safety of all creatives involved is imperative and a difficult feat. Luckily, Hollywood is combating the inconveniences to provide entertainment for audiences and has even made an appearance in Norman!

A few weeks ago, I was contacted by my dear friend and mentor, Jennifer Baker, to be an extra in the filming of the movie Deadly Dormitory. I have worked with Jennifer for many years through my experience participating in classes and productions at The Studio of The Sooner Theatre, so she thought it would be a good opportunity to dip my toes into film instead of live entertainment. I’m so glad she did!

She first gave me the phone number of the background coordinator, Kevin Yap. He informed me that I needed a negative COVID test from the past week to participate. I hadn’t been tested in that time frame, so I raced to the testing center. Thank goodness there were so many available slots; I received my results the next day and was cleared to go to set! However, I was not the only person who had to get tested. Every single person on set had to have a recent negative test result as well. That ended up being around 50 people total, which I’m sure was not easy to arrange.

The first day of filming took place on the beautiful University of Oklahoma Norman campus, which was the perfect background for this college-aged thriller. Filming was so efficient and gave many opportunities for background actors to be seen and interact with the main actors. One of the main actors was actually an Oklahoma native named Randy Moore. All of the actors were great to work with, but Randy made sure to come up and introduce himself to every single person on set and thank everyone for being a part of the filming. It was really sweet, and so cool to see a local getting professional acting work.

The second day of filming, the set shifted just a little bit north to Oklahoma City at the historic Henry Overholser Mansion. The mansion served as the background for a gala between professors and students. Everyone was dressed to the nines and the attention to detail made for an amazing scene. It was so interesting learning about how subtle sounds and movements can affect the end result.

At one point, all of the extras were given paths throughout the foyer of the mansion, but because the sound equipment was so sensitive, everyone had to take off their shoes. This took around an hour to film this scene because every time they would get two or three good shots, they would have to turn the scene completely around to get it from a different angle. This also gave so many chances for background actors to get screen time.

The grand staircase and chandelier were beautiful for this scene and you would never know that the rest of the mansion is slowly going through restorations. I can only imagine how breathtaking the historic building will be once it’s all complete!

It was truly such a good learning experience and I’m so glad I was able to participate! There are so many projects that film in Oklahoma and extras are always needed. To get involved, check out

Maura McMurray was born and raised in Norman, attended Norman North High School, and participated in shows at the Sooner Theatre for about nine years before attending the University of Central Oklahoma, where she is in her senior year as a musical theatre major. She hopes to pursue a performing career once everything opens back up post-COVID, preferably abroad or in New York City.

About the Movie

The first local shooting of A Deadly Dormitory, which was written by Lee Gorlitz and directed by Brent Ryan Green with Danny Roth serving as producer, drew upon over 100 local residents and University of Oklahoma students and staff as unpaid extras. Filming took place Dec. 7-16 in several residence halls and surrounds. The second took place in Oklahoma City at the historic Overholser Mansion.

The film’s plot centers on a student who refuses to sleep with her professor in exchange for good grades and finds herself in danger of being killed to keep her quiet. Her mother drops everything to save her. 

The producer, Danny Roth, with Almost Never Films, said the film has not yet been sold so it is as yet determined on what channel the movie will be shown, though a summer air date is expected. We’ll keep our readers apprised!

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