Even a Cold Dead Stiff Needs Perky Pizazz
More than 300,000 extras are employed by in Hengdian World Studios of Zhejiang each year.
Any background extra can make a death look just as convincing as any star or supporting player, but for performing the same death scene, the pay scale same extras receive is as different as night and day. Low- level extras are given 48 yuan per day. Extras on special contract earn 80 yuan a day, and are classified as minor, mid-level and major. Less than 100 major extras can earn up to 5,000 yuan per day and receive name credit.
Don’t even think that the older they are, the higher the salary they command, because no studio
is going to waste even a single dime, and the reason is simple; there is a big difference between just play acting and acting out a realistic death scene. People react on instinct when they are alive, but in death even if a cold cadaver square in the face were hit square in the face by chards of shrapnel from an exploding squib nearby, it wouldn’t move an inch. Being that it’s a stiff, if it were rolled down a hill, its limbs would well… remain stiff. There are many different ways to die. When running full speed ahead, a man would not fall down as soon as he was shot; he would stagger forward a few big steps and fall forward flat on his face. Anyone poisoned would have painful spasms before death; their face would grimace, their eyeballs would pop out and they would involuntarily stick their hands in their mouth.
For a living man to act like a dead man would in real life is easier said than done, which is why a minor extra who is up to the task might earn anywhere from 100 to 300 yuan per day. To act out a death scene realistically, a good background performer would rush to the hospital ICUs and mortuaries wherever they had free time, and closely observe every minute detail of the process of death as it unfolds. Even in the still of night, if they get word of a traffic accident or fight, they would get dressed and rush to the scene, no matter how late or how tired they felt, which is why they are often mistaken for the perpetrator returning to the scene of a crime.
Let’s take a look at what a midlevel extra earning anywhere from
400 to 800 yuan a day does in the craft of acting out a realistic death scene. His or her pupils would slowly dilate and then shrink and keep staring straight ahead completely motionless for a minute or more even when exposed to strong light.
Upon their arrival at the studio, after getting into costume and make- up, some extras just find a cozy place to hide and sleep. When it’s time to film their scene, they walk lazily in front of the camera, sometimes even act like a goofball in front of the camera. Would an extra like this even be worth the 48 yuan a day?
As Shakespeare once said, “All the world is a stage.” The one who has a cameo as a cadaver is not much different from you and me. Even with diligence, you may not make it, but if you do get your big break someday, it would definitely be the result of your hard work.
( From Hefei Evening News , March 22, 2018. Translation: Qing Run) 中毒的人死前会痛苦地痉挛，面部狰狞，眼球突出，用手卡住嘴巴。
再看看日薪 400 元至 800 元的中特是怎么做的：瞳孔可以慢慢放大，然后慢慢缩小，即便用强光照射，眼睛也是直直的，整个过程可以持续1分钟。
（摘自《合肥晚报》2018年 3 月 22 日）