Discussion in 'Star Trek - Original Series' started by Lee-Sensei, Feb 25, 2013.
Regardless of this current subject - haven't you been told before about misquoting people?
I am not going to indulge you in the level of needless confrontation and attention you require, so consider your efforts wasted.
Both of you, please knock it off.
Look, I don't know anything about the film industry in Great Britain. But with regards to the US film industry, what you are saying is just factually wrong.
There is a very important, very clearly defined, and very strongly enforced distinction between an "extra" and a "day player" or any other actor with even so much as one line of dialogue. An extra is expressly prohibited, by contact between the studios and the union (SAG), from having any dialogue what-so-ever. That is what makes an extra an extra. At least in the United States. That's why they're allowed to be paid much less than any other type of actor.
If a director were to do as you suggest, and decide on-set to give an extra a line of dialogue, it would necessarily result in a change of their status and require paying a higher rate for their services. It's considered "upgrading" the background actor.
I linked to the Wikipedia article because it is a simple, clear, concise summary of a lot of legalese. But if you want a more concrete source, here is the complete text of the SAG Basic Agreement that is signed by all signatory studios -- all 1,022 pages of it:
Extras/background performers are rather clearly defined in it. Of particular interest is this excerpt from page 206, which covers the fact that it is prohibited for extras to speak lines written in the script:
And then this excerpt, from further down the same page, which covers the situation you describe -- a director giving an extra a line that wasn't originally in the script:
In other words, if I make up a line on the spot that I want in the scene, and give it to an extra, the extra now legally becomes a day player and must be paid as such. If the line was originally in the script, I can't ever give it to an extra unless there are extraordinary circumstances, such as a previously hired actor not showing up for work, because I'm expected to have hired appropriately-compensated actors ahead of time for everything in the script.
And, FWIW, as of the date of this post, the minimum daily rate for a day player in television is $872. The minimum daily rate for a background actor is $150. So, yeah, the distinction makes a big difference.
The term "ND" - for "no dialogue" - is also used.
If the argument here is that the gang of four were extras, that's nonsense.
Pretty much any character with a name is by definition not an extra.
There's an anecdote about the production of Star Trek IV that perfectly illustrates this background actor/extra vs. day player distinction.
From the Memory Alpha article on ST4:
Regardless, though, characters like Sulu, Uhura, and Chekov -- even Chapel and Rand -- were clearly not extras by any definition of the word.
They were not the stars and I would argue were not "main characters," but they were continuing characters who were regularly written into the script with specific dialogue. Not just some random line a director made up on the set. Sometimes it was just the de rigueur stuff like "hailing frequencies open, sir" and sometimes it was even was more meaty stuff, like Sulu in "The Naked Time" or Uhura in "Mirror, Mirror."
Were they stars or main characters? No. But they were clearly regular supporting characters who could, in no reasonable use of the term, be classified as extras.
As a little kid watching Star Trek reruns in the 1970s, I assumed that Kirk, Spock, and McCoy were the main characters and Scotty, Uhura, Sulu, Chekov, and Chapel were subordinate characters, as David Gerrold referred to them in "The World of Star Trek."
However, I did expect to see those subordinate characters each episode, at least if their position was used. I couldn't figure out why they paid an actor to be helmsman Hansen or DePaul when they could use Sulu, or why DeSalle beamed down to Omicron radiation spore world instead of Scotty or took command over Uhura in "Catspaw."
I didn't have to get much older, though, before I realized that it would have been stupid for Kirk to beam down with Yeoman Rand instead of a psychologist in "Dagger of the Mind," or that a sociologist like Lindstrom was necessary to the "Return of the Archons" landing party in a way that Sulu was not.
I guess "semiregular" may be the best term technically for the original poster in describing these characters, though you're not wrong as long as you don't call them equal to the three stars or just background characters with lines.
60s opening credits didn't necessarily include all the long-term contracted actors. e.g. Hayden Rorke and Bill Daily were in the end credits of I Dream of Jeannie even though they appeared in every single episode.
The first season Trek writer's bible says:
James T. Kirk
"Other Running Characters"
Yeoman Janice Rand
Doctor Leonard "Bones" McCoy
Engineering Officer Scott
The second season Trek bible says:
Captain James T. Kirk
Dr. Leonard "Bones" McCoy
"other running characters"
Engineering Officer Scott
Nurse Christine Chapel
Er... no, it's a very explicit distinction, consisting of very rigidly defined job descriptions as established in the pay schedule of SAG/AFTRA in the US, and BAFTA in the UK, and their equivalent unions/guilds/orgs in various nations of the world.
The pay schedules of these groups provide what constitutes the legal definition and criteria of what a particular type of performing job entails, for purposes of everything from payroll, to one's placement in the opening/closing credits of a film or television series, to one's entitlement to residuals, and much, much more. It lays out exact distinctions between a Series Regular, a Recurring Character, a Day Player, an Extra, etc, etc.
The notion that one could get a film or television degree of any kind, without learning about these most basic and fundamental definitions, which must be followed at every level within the industry, is pretty much all the evidence one needs that one has received a very piss-poor education, and should seek some form of legal remedy that involves compensation.
Separate names with a comma.