How To Be A Movie Extra
If you have always dreamed of seeing yourself on the silver screen, you should learn how to be a movie extra! The smell of fresh popcorn, a dark theater, and an epic adventure movie is the purest form of magic that exists in this world. The magic of cinema has been enchanting the lives of mere mortals for more than a century, and we humans can join the ranks of those god-like celebrities!
An extra, also known as a background artist, is essentially human scenery. Extras are brought into that park, stadium, or restaurant to make the scene more realistic.
The process of becoming a movie extra is not hard, especially if you live in an entertainment market. There are some basic steps to follow:
- Finding a Reputable Extra’s Casting Agency: Try using your favorite search engine. Never pay more than between $10 and $25 for a one-time registration fee. This standard fee is for processing and photos. Trust your instincts when making your decision. You don’t want to be with a company that will take advantage of you. Do not pay for professional headshots (which you do not need to be an extra) or take any classes.
- Get Registered: Bring your Driver’s License, Social Security Card, and have your clothing measurements handy. There may also be an interview in this process, which is a formality to ensure that you will be professional while on set. It’s also a good idea to register with more than one company.
- Working: Most agencies give you a phone number that you should call the day before you are available. Projects looking for extras will list the type of person needed. “Looking for women 18 to 25 to play Ivy League college students, please no blondes.” Do not call unless you fit the description. You will be wasting the casting agent’s time, and your own. You may also loose credibility. If you want to work frequently, consider using a call-in service. The company will make phone calls on your behalf and book work based on your availability. Check with your casting agency for recommendations.
- Rub Those Elbows: When you are on set, make friends with the crew. Never interrupt when they are working, but on breaks most are happy to talk with you. Being professional and doing what you are told can also get you noticed. If you are a good extra, and have good relationships with the crew, you may be asked back for this or any other project in the future.
Now that you know how to be a movie extra, there are a few things you should keep in mind:
- Though the proximity to Hollywood celebrities can be exciting, the actual work can be very dull. You won’t be allowed to actually talk to the stars and there will be more time spent sitting around than working.
- The money is not great unless you are lucky enough to join a union, and the hours are long. Expect overtime nearly every day.
- Movie sets can be very intimidating. Don’t get offended if you feel like you are being rushed or even if the crew seems a little put off. It’s nothing personal, it can just be very hectic managing 100 extras, getting the shots filmed before lunch, and maintaining order.
- Being a movie extra can be magical, fun, and you will get a free meal. Do what you are told, and stay out of the way.
- If you are an aspiring actor it is also a wonderful hands-on education.
If you live in a smaller market that may not have extra casting offices, your best bet is to keep an eye on the local news. They usually announce if a movie is filming in your area and will explain how to be a movie extra on the project.
For potential Extra’s in New York or Los Angeles:
- Central Casting: This background casting agency, with a rich 85 year history in the business, is one of the best in the industry
In Los Angeles:
- Sande Alessi
- Jeff Olan
- Hollywood OS