Even though this is Show Biz, extra work can be decidedly unglamorous. But unglamorous can frequently equal adventure!
I started doing extra work because I was laid off from a job I’d had for 28 years. I never thought of acting but close friends encouraged me because I’ve given public speeches for years and am very comfortable in front of a camera.
I needed something that would get me out of the house. I was laid off and was running into closed doors when looking for work because of my age. Being cast as an extra was the only work in which they preferred me at my age.
The only auditions you do as an extra is to walk through a scene and follow what the director is asking for. It’s pretty straightforward; you’re there to let the scene have life.
It’s best to not do too much preparation or thinking before walking on to a set. You need to be able to follow directions, so if you “prepare,” you might be thinking of doing something other that what you’re asked to do. When you’re given instructions and what the scene entails, you usually think about the best way to deliver what the scene requires and your instructions are.
Days usually start early and you need time to get to set, park and check in. You’re given wardrobe instructions and told to bring options to wear. You get through check-in, pass wardrobe and are issued a voucher. The voucher is very important since it’s your proof that you worked. No voucher = no paycheck.
I’m really only earning basic minimum wage except in some cases where I have been upgraded.
The one item I always take away is how much work goes into creating television and movie scenes. One of the best benefits is meeting all the great people on set. The food that’s provided is first rate. The experience of working on set is sometimes indescribable!
You need to be patient but most of all you need be able to put your ego aside and follow the instructions of the director. You need to be able to repeat actions over and over until the director is satisfied. Extra work requires a variety of different looks so you cannot be too concerned with rejection and not take things personally.
Central Casting // Movie extra jobs // How to be an extra // Movie extra FAQs // Extra-casting.com (a frequently updated blog)
Have you ever worked as an extra? What tips can you share?