year: 2007
cast: Terry Bolo, Tafan Nieves
director: Jason Connell
rating: ****

A lot of documentaries centering on people trying really hard for something that seems unattainable will secretly poke fun at its subjects, but not this film, which in a completely unbias manner centers on a handful of Hollywood extras as they struggle to get work in a very tough industry; and along the way, dreaming of a possible "discovery" that will shoot them above the fray. If you ever thought "background artist" was just a politically-correct name for "extras" (like "custodial arts" for janitors), after watching this you'll realize just how fitting the term is. Clips of each subject is shown in the films they appear; each film is in black and white and the extra in color so you can find them easily, ranging from "Carrie" to "The Shawshank Redemption". "Strictly Background" is a celebration of the working-class members of Hollywood as they shed blood, sweat and tears to remain SOMEWHERE in the camera lens. You end up not feeling sorry for the protagonists, but like you're struggling - and celebrating - right along with them.

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