(This post references iSundae II: Attack of the Cones, part 1. You may want to view the movie before reading this post.)
Alright, tell me frankly, what would you do if you were confronted with the problem of creating an army of extras that serve the badguy? If I had to start completely from scratch I would probably flip out. Thankfully, I got lucky on iSundae II’s “The Norse.”
The concept of the Norse had been in the script since I don’t know when. Maybe it grew out of a scene in an earlier version, or maybe it got thrown in randomly. I can’t remember. But I do know that design concepts for their “look” are all over some pretty early sketches. There’s an axe with a symbolic icon right next to a costume sketch for Emcracy and a cloak clasp next to Cone armor. I got pretty fancy with some of the sketches and concepts, but one thing I didn’t think about: These were background characters. Extras. A generic “set-dressing.” Thus, no fancy costumes or props! Awww, man. Here’s what we ended up with.
For costumes—Oversized, white, long-sleeve t-shirts with the ribbing on the sleeve cuffs cut off. Simple, cheap, and you can dirty them up all you want. Or cut holes in them. (We didn’t do that.) Then we topped them off with raggedy vests, cloaks, and coats made from whatever we had available. We used everything from an old plaid blanket to a sleeveless polo shirt. A little cutting, a very minimal amount of sewing, and you’ve got it! We didn’t even hem most of the cut edges. These were Vikings, not fashion statements. Oh, we also threw old belts on some of them. Thankfully we weren’t going for historical accuracy, a general look sufficed.
Of course, we had to throw in some axes. Store-bought ones. (Guess who was planning to make all the axes? Cough, cough.) A bow and arrow set a la Stelen from the first movie (re-use your props; they come in handy!) and a few swords. The Norse had to look semi-fierce, after all.
I did get to make some fancier props, though. There’s a rather ornate horn.
And the battering ram.
I also made some Celtic-knot style clasps for the Norse with cloaks, but they never made it on set more than once. Which is probably a good thing, because the “Celtic look” was strictly for the Cones. And who wants to add ten minutes to the movie length just to explain what Cone stuff was doing on the Norse?
We discovered that the mix-and-match abilities we ended up with lent themselves to a plethora of Norse really, really well. It also allowed us to create more Norse than we had extras. (More about that later.) But let me just say, if you’re going to have a specific Norse (or anything) show up in more than one scene, write down what his costume is like. In detail. What color is his helmet? How about the thingies holding the horns on? What size is his shirt? What else did he have on? Was he wearing a blue or green shirt underneath? Etc., etc., etc. Trust me, it saves a whole lot of time. You don’t want to leave the film site, run upstairs to turn on the computer, launch your editing software, find a clip that has that Norse in it, run back downstairs and forget what he looked like. Things can get messy.