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Inflatables are being found more and more in various types of industries that we have covered in this blog before. Whether inflatables are being used for sterilization or for protecting motorcycle racers during crashes, the adaptability of inflatable materials goes well beyond the bounce houses we know them for. Unfortunately for those people who make a living being background actors in the movies, inflatables are becoming more and more common replacements on movie sets.
First mentioned in this blog some time ago, inflatable people were first noticed in The King’s Speech, the Oscar-winning film about a British king struggling with stuttering during WWII. Scenes in the movie called for hundreds of background actors, but organizing, costuming and paying a few thousand extras proved to be too difficult for producers. Instead, a few hundred people were hired and surrounded with inflatable extras.
This is exactly what is happening on the set of 42, a film about Jackie Robinson’s historic break into baseball in the late 40s. According to an article in WMAZ, inflatable extras will be lining the stands during baseball game shooting:
“A photo from the Chattanooga web site, Nooga.com, shows a Rossville, Ga., woman who acted as an extra for filming in that city surrounded by inflatables dressed up like baseball fans. By email to 13WMAZ, the film’s publicist, Ernie Malik wrote, ‘Inflatables are used along with real folk, who provided the human movement necessary for crowd scenes…we used both real people and the inflatables.’”
The primary reason for the inflatable actors, the article says, is the prohibitive production cost inherent in a period piece. Checking 500 actors for the appropriate 1940s costuming, grooming and makeup would prove to be too difficult. Instead, the stands will be filled with inflatable stand-ins and a significantly smaller number of real actors.
What do you think about the use of inflatable ‘actors’?