Tag Archives: casting directors

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.

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Actors Checklist: My Acting Bag

4 Apr
So when I first started going to auditions I regularly forgot thing. Now after going to so many I have sorted myself out and leant what I need to pack in my bag before going to an audition.
I hope this helps some of you remember what to bring to your next audition. None of us like to be caught out!

Actress Bag

  1. Showreel: Not something that is always needed but sometimes I do get asked if I have a reel. Its always handy to be able to pull one out of my bag. This trick never fails to impress.
  2. Pen and Paper: Scribble down the names of the casting director and any answers to questions you know you will be asked. Also if you are given any information its always good to right it down straight away because if you are anything like me you will forget it by the time you get home.
  3. Google Maps or a Map: No excuses like ‘I could’t find the place’ will cut it with casting director. So get yourself a map so you don’t get lost.
  4. Food and Water: Bring dried snacks, such as cereal bars or fruit to keep energy levels up.
  5. Change of clothes: Flat shoes, high shoes, trousers, blazer, dress, dance clothes. It all depends on the role and activities.
  6. Make up and Deodorant: To freshen up when its needed. We all start sweating a little when the nerves kick in.
  7. Tissues: We all hate that feeling when the noes starts running and theses nothing to help you out. Sniff sniff!
  8. Positive mind frame: This won’t be in your bag but its something you must have before stepping into every audition room. ‘I can nail it, I know my lines, I am GREAT.’
  9. Monologues: You need in your back pocket not in your bag. You should have contrasting monologues learn off my heart. Classic, modern, dramatic, comical and shakespeare monologues are a must.

Overcoming Audition Nerves

28 Feb

Unfortunately to get that role you really want, you have to do something you don’t really want to.

Audition for it!

We all have to go through this tedious, nerve-wracking and sometime embarrassing process. I have done so many auditions over the years that I now rarely get the sweaty palms, turning stomach and uncontrollable nerves.

Auditions nerves

When I finished my training I was terrified of auditions. I probably suffered the worsted anyone could do, that it nearly stopped me from continuing my career as an actress. At times I struggled to even make it to auditions. But enough was enough and I told to myself ‘Get the hell over it!’ I can’t be an actress without going to auditions. So the next audition I had, I walked into the room, picked up a script, took a deep breath and sight-read (which I am terrified of). The next day I got a call confirming I got the role! Yippee!

Auditions are really not as bad as I had anticipated them to be. 99% of the time everyone is lovely and I now actually quite enjoy them. Casting directors really do want you to do well. They are not people to be afraid of and a lot of them have been in your shoes. I find them usually to be very accommodating, encouraging and positive, especially when they can see that you are nervous.

Although I do believe that the only way to conquer audition nerves is by going to audition after audition and gaining experiences, here are some tips I find really help me when I feel these butterflies coming on:

  • Be prepared – If you have a script to learn, learn it well otherwise its likely you will stumble over words and not portray any kind of character.
  • Believe in yourself – You can only be yourself and that is the best you can be. Be proud of it and believe you can nail the audition.
  • Breathe – It’s so simple and important but most people forget to breathe. It will help you slow down your speech and not speed through it like you can’t wait to get to the end. Plus it helps you relax.
  • Warm up – Before you go to the audition, do vocal and physical exercises. This will help you focus and relax.
  • Loose yourself in the speech – Don’t think about what you are doing, just do it. It it obvious when people are thinking about what they are doing and not acting on instinct.. This becomes easier after a few auditions but keep at it and you will get there.

All auditions are going to be different and things will happen that are unexpected. Last week I went to an audition for an indie feature film and the casting call was described as:

Tony’s Girlfriend: Bubbly, fun girl with brains. No preparation needed. Scrip will be given at the audition.”

When I turn up there were two friendly guys with a camera, they asked a few questions and then told me that the girlfriend was only in one club scene. They asked me to dance for 30 seconds, with NO music, like I was in a club… this is nothing like what I expected. There was no script and no words. I am not a dancer and I don’t even dance in clubs, I sway! It was humiliating and embarrassing but as soon as I walked out of the room I fell about laughing. What us actors do to get a job is crazy and my friends would laugh if they could see me. Oh, and no surprise I didn’t get the part!

Take weird auditions on the chin, dust yourself off and go onto the next.

Audition Waiting Rooms

25 Feb
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Wow! I am always amazed at the conversations people have in the waiting room before an audition. All I want to do is keep my head down, keep focused, relax and get in the ‘zone’. The majority of the actors I come across have this same ritual.
I have to admit I haven’t always been this way. I used to scan the room at the competition and natter to everyone in my eye vision, hoping to make a great impression on people who don’t even matter to me. I did it in a naive way due to nervous, it was never in an intuitional way to throw others off. I would always walk into the audition room thrown off, wondering if that girl I was chatting to about her cats could hear me in the corridor. I would never get the job and that girl with last seasons shoes that I mocked in my head did… humph! So now I stay quiet and out of all the fuss of ‘I’ve done this and that, blah blah blah.’

I have noticed a few types of ‘off putting’ character and I can almost alway guarantee that one will be found at auditions I go to.

The Bragger Why do people feel the need to ‘big themselves up’ to strangers before an audition? They talk about themselves and their achievement. I like to think that they do this to try and boost their own confidents and not to purposely discourage others.

The Asker They will ask about yourself in general, then quickly cut to the nit and gritty of it and find out how you got this audition. Maybe some are just nervously chit chatting but they always start asking the questions that could benefit them from knowing.

The preparer The physical movement is what is distracting. They will stretch, heavy breath and do continual spinal rolls. Please prepare before you come to an audition or have the consideration to go to a corner and stretch those facial muscles facing the wall.

This topic came to my attention last week when I was at an audition where all of these characters were present. Each one competing with one another and distracting us focused ones. The avaerage age of people were a bit younger than me, around 18. I had to laugh inside and think that this was happening due to their lack of experience.

To be able to do your best in an audition you need to be 100% focused on yourself. If people try to strike up a conversation with you just be polite and explain that you need to be in the ‘zone’.

A casting director once told me that from time to time he would sit in the audition room without people knowing and listen to the conversations. He admitted that if he didn’t like a persons behaviour or attitude, they weren’t getting the job. Be professional at all time because you don’t know who is listening.

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