What is a movie extra?
A movie extra, or “background actor” is someone who fills in the ambience of a movie, TV show or a commercial when the cameras are rolling. For example – It would look pretty weird for two actors to have a conversation in an empty mall, so movie extras get cast to make everything look more natural. Movie Extras are almost never given lines to say, but if they are, they technically become actors while they are saying the lines. It’s not all that challenging, but it is pretty exciting if you like being around the actors and a part of the movie industry.
No Experience or Education Needed
Because each film environment differs, movie extras who are needed to make the set look natural also vary. Therefore, people of all shapes and sizes and ethnicity can get work as movie extras.
Your name in the rolling credits
Even if your scene ends up on the cutting room floor, or it’s hard to spot you in the movie, at the very least your name will shown in the rolling credits at the end of the film that will live on forever.
Extras are used as human props to make a film environment look natural so they often have little or no lines to memorize at all. No big acting skills are required either. They just sit, stand, or walk behind the main actors and they instantly become part of the movie.
Make money doing mostly nothing
You won’t get rich working as an Extra, but you can make a good living. The rate varies from project to project. There are other variables “bit parts and featured extras” that are a bit more exclusive and therefore pays a bit better. You never know when you will be upgraded to a speaking part.
Probably the best reason to take a job working as an extra is that it gives you the ability to network with dozens of fellow people who are all trying to break into the industry in one capacity or another. The contacts you make here might lead to a number of other opportunities down the line as many of the people you come across could perhaps find success in their niche and thus be able to help you in your own career endeavours
Opportunity to learn
If you’re new to the industry, it doesn’t matter how many books you read or classes you take, you can never fully understand the inner workings of a film or television set unless you spend a great deal of time on one. Much of the work on set is done through manual labour. From bashing cable and camera dollies to adjusting lights, props, etc., and a movie set is a factory churning out film and television as its product. Being an extra on a set will expose you to this reality, as well as let you see first-hand what these people do. You might find that there are particular jobs you never even thought of that are appealing to you.
Extras often have long periods of waiting around during film shoots while the film crew prepare the next shots to be filmed. Waiting around during the film shoot – while getting paid – also means that you have time for internet, reading or texting. Like cast’ actors, Extras are brief-specific and working hours vary according to shooting schedules so it is not a fixed hour, full week job, however working hours might become tedious and long sometimes – art knows no time.
The chance of being “spotted for greatness”
It’s not likely, but it has certainly been known to happen that someone may spot you and realize that you are meant for much more than just background. From casting directors to writers to agents wandering the set, you never know who has their eyes on you. So, being on a set in this capacity might just open up a few doors you never thought possible.
- You cannot ever be late. Time is money in this industry and if you cost a production once you’ll never work in the industry again.
- Long hours of just sitting and doing nothing.
- Responsible for own transport.
- You’ll sometimes have to come very early in the morning.
- It can get boring after doing it many times.
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