Last Saturday I went to the cinema to see the film Yesterday. This has been a long standing arrangement with my friends for the last 365 days. That is because we were extras in the film when the cast and crew filmed at Gorleston Beach for the day. Gorleston is where I have spent much of my childhood and is only a short drive from our home town.
The film itself was a delight. Watching it felt like a warm hug on a winter’s day or a bar of chocolate after a rough day at school. I think that it will become an instant classic as so many of Richard Curtis’ and Danny Boyle’s films have already. There was a real feel good vibe about the story. I felt attached to the film because of my extra experience and that the character was from a part of the world I knew very well. However, I think it is enjoyable no matter your own experiences or where in the world you hail from.
I will start by reviewing the film itself then move on to the day of filming.
Yesterday tells the story of Jack, a struggling musician from Suffolk. He continuously tries to break into the music scene by gigging in local pubs and at one point a festival but with no luck. In a freak storm that causes a worldwide blackout and an unfortunate yet hilarious injury for Jack, his life changes. The world can no longer remember the chart topping, legendary band, The Beatles. As a guitar player and singer, they are some of Jack’s idols but now no one else in the world knows who they are.
Jack sees this opportunity to reinvent his musical persona after hearing amazing feedback from his friends and manager/friend Ellie. He starts by recording some of the songs and his success spreads very quickly with the help of Ed Sheeran. He becomes a worldwide sensation but starts to loose focus of what matters, his friends and possible romance with Ellie.
I am a huge fan of The Beatles so would definitely be seeing this film even if I hadn’t been an extra. I was worried at first that Jack would be trying to pass off the music as his own without any moral dilemmas but throughout the film, Jack is constantly unsure if he is doing the right thing and fears being caught out. He only does it to show the world the incredible music they have all forgotten. He just wants the world to know the power of the Beatles.
My friend Will who was also an extra enjoyed the film and it made him more excited to see it having been in the film.
My experience as a film extra
The day itself was a really great atmosphere and a fun day out. I heard about the experience from a friend and rallied together a group to drive to the beach. I am not sure why but I wasn’t expecting the beach to be that busy. Probably because I hadn’t seen the event advertised on social media or heard about it from anyone else.
When we got there, I was shocked to see hordes of people at the car park, waiting to get the bus to the beach. The crowd was about 6,000 people, the largest gathering of extras in the UK. The experience was free but we still had to get tickets and waiting in line to get them checked took a while but we all got the the beach. There was a field full of Porta Loos and food stands as we all had a free burger and ice cream for taking part.
We were quite near the back as we did not arrive at the crack of dawn and because some of the party got lost on the way. We still had a great view of the Pier Hotel, where the main action was. Having Danny Boyle, a world famous director interact with the crowd and tell us what to do was an amazing experience. I could see lots of cameras on the stage and a band all set up; there was another big camera near us and a helicopter that flew over head.
Filming that day really made me appreciate how much effort goes into such a small scene. It took basically 6 hours to get the shots and we did probably 8 or 9 takes of jumping up and down for a song. It must have taken a lot of coordination. I couldn’t really tell what the song was as it was a more rocky version but after watching the film, Jack is upset while playing it so the song comes out very angry. The scene that took a whole day to shoot, was probably two or three minutes in the film.
Another friend who was there on the day said that it “felt cool to be part of an actual film and see the director”.
The only downside of the experience was the sunburn that I came home with.
Other films I have enjoyed at the cinema recently are: Rocketman, Toy Story 4, Men in Black International and Spiderman: Far from Home.