Working as a Film Extra

5 Apr

Before I had been involved with any extra work it sounded exciting and glamorous. Being on the same set as the stars was mind blowing to me.

“What if they notice me? Maybe they will give me a role in there next up and coming film.”

So when I got my first extra job I was ecstatic. I thought, “This is it. I am really making it.”

I quickly realised I had been mistaken. Last month I was an extra in a film and over the top of my book I noticed so many extras had come glammed up and were flirting outrageously with the third director and anyone they could speak to. I watched them all with fascination knowing that this was their first extras job. Their bubble would soon burst when they only see a snippet of their feet on the big screen. This got me thinking about how newbies to the work are often mistaken about what there job really is.

Being A Film Extra

Extra work is just extra work. They are there with many other extras to just fill the space. It is not seen as an acting job or a step towards your next acting job. In fact if you tell a casting director that you do lots of extra work it will probably hinder your chances of getting a real acting job.

The Truth

  • Anyone can be an extra: your nan, neighbor, builder. ANYONE.
  • The actors or director will not notice you, no matter how good looking or funny you are.
  • It will not be beneficial to you as an actor.
  • Lots of people say you get treated like cattle – however I don’t think it’s that bad.
  • It’s a long, long old day.
  • Nobody in the industry is impressed with anyone who does extra work.
  • You can meet other struggling actors like yourself and get good advice from them.
  • It is good for a little bit of extra cash.

Extras No No’s

  • Speak to the actors. You will get sent home and may get fired from the company you are working for
  • Wear heals – your feet will be in agony.
  • Don’t put extra work on you CV. You will be seen as a good extra but a bad actor.

My first extra experience was like many others. 

I got up super early on the morning of the shoot, which had a call time of 7am, washed and blow dried my hair and put on a full face of make up. I didn’t care that I looked like I was really for a night on the tiles, I looked good and was convinced I would get noticed.

I battled through the cold wind on a frosty January morning to Pinewood studios.

I walked into this room, with smudged eyeliner and windblown hair to find it filled with hundreds of people. I quickly realised that I was a needle in a haystack.

I was never noticed by anyone. The whole group of us extras sat around all day fiddling with our phones and making little talk to pass the time. Then we would get shoved onto set where we stood in silence, then walked back and forth until the director called cut.

Extra work is a long tedious day of doing nothing but it can also be fun and it is a opportunity to meet people from all walks of life.

The best way of looking at extra work is its a bit of extra cash. Some pay very well although I have drastically noticed how much less they are paying extras now. Some people make a career out of being an extra but they are fully aware they are extras and not actors.


One Response to “Working as a Film Extra”

  1. Laura Janzen April 19, 2013 at 9:24 pm #

    Great to get some insight into being an extra! I had considered trying this out this summer, and these are some great points to know. Thanks!

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