County native finding success in Hollywood
Two people sit at a table in a restaurant. They are fully engaged in conversation, eyes locked on each other. They throw in a few hand gestures and head motions to sell the interaction to the audience.
While no words can be heard, the background actors help tell the scene's story to the viewers.
For two years, David Krater has been working as a background actor, or extra, in Hollywood in pursuit of an acting career.
A native of Port Carbon, Krater, 31, has appeared in scenes on major network television shows such as "How I Met Your Mother" and "CSI," both on CBS. He said working as an extra is one of the first steps toward establishing a career.
"It is a way to get your foot in the door and see how the entertainment industry works," Krater said.
Krater currently lives in North Hollywood after moving across the country two years ago and is linked up with a calling service, which acts as a middle man between an actor and casting director. His first job was as a student in a classroom scene on the hit CBS show "How I Met Your Mother."
Krater said he wasn't overwhelmed being on the set because he knew he had work to do - even though he was within arm's reach of the show's stars.
"I felt good. I wasn't too intimidated because I had my own special job to do," he said.
Krater said that scene took between an hour and an hour and a half to film. However, his entire day on set lasted about nine hours. He said the material that was shot that day probably made up five minutes of that episode.
He said it was interesting to see the finished product and himself on scene. But after two years, he said it has become a normal process.
"It was a good feeling to see how it came together," he said. "Then it became kind of routine."
Krater said becoming an actor wasn't always his goal. As a student at Pottsville Area High School, he said he wasn't involved in the theater program. It wasn't until his time in the military that he found his current career path.
After graduating from Pottsville Area in 2002, Krater served four years in the Air Force. He said they had theater events on his base, such as dinners for families, which sparked his interest. He pursued that interest at Kutztown University, majoring in theater. Within a year after graduation he was in California.
Over the next two years, he built a resume that included work on shows such as MTV's "Teen Wolf," HBO's "Newsroom," FX's "Justified," TV Land's "Jennifer Falls" and HBO's "True Blood." He said no single show sticks out as a favorite because each has allowed him to learn about the industry.
"They all have been really great experiences because each one is different," Krater said. "It's a different atmosphere."
However, Krater said his time on "Teen Wolf" was probably the most fun. He said it was an entertaining and light-hearted set. It was also the show that has called him back a few times for work.
Krater said the workload differs based on what a show needs. Some jobs are only for one day, while some are reoccurring background roles. For example, he said a background actor chosen to play an officer in a sheriff's office may be asked to return multiple times for the same role for consistency.
Alhough it may seem small, the job of a background actor is important. He said it is their job to keep the actions looking as real as possible to the audience. If two actors are supposed to be engaged in conversation, they are actually talking to each other, but they are not speaking. Basically, they are having a silent conversation because someone pretending to say gibberish can ruin a scene.
"When you actually look at it, you can tell they are saying, 'blah, blah, blah' and not engaged at all," Krater said.
Krater said work is slow right now as many shows take a summer break. Although he didn't get to this year, he said he likes to return to Schuylkill County during the offseason to visit family, including his parents, Scott and Denise Krater, and brother, Stephen, Port Carbon; grandparents, Norm and Doris Kauffman, Palo Alto; and uncles, aunts and cousins.
Looking forward, he said work on TV shows should pick up at the end of the month. He will also continue to look for different avenues of work to advance his career.
"Right now, I want to get a feature film of some kind. A speaking role to get some credit for it," he said.