“Lights, camera, action!” If you have always wanted to hear these words, you are living in the right place. Move over Hollywood, here comes Y’allywood! Here’s your insider’s guide to becoming an extra:
With all of the film and TV production currently happening in Georgia, there is a wonderful opportunity to participate in this exciting industry and earn some extra money. One of the best ways is to try your hand at being an extra in movies and TV. This is also known in the business as “background”; background actors are those people behind the character in a scene.
I began looking on the Georgia Film Commission website and casting company websites to see how to get a job as an extra. After several months of submitting, I finally got a gig on a TV series being filmed in Griffin. Once I worked on that show, I was selected for many more extra jobs. I got to the point where I would get a text while in the grocery store, asking me if I could be a “nurse” the next day on a different show. As a background actor, I guess I had arrived! Suddenly, everyone wanted to know how to get a start being an extra. These are the tips I usually share, and it should make it easier for you to succeed, as well.
The first point you need to know is that you do not have to spend any money on photos; simply take three cell phone pictures of yourself. Take one headshot, one from the knees up, and one full body. It’s best to do this with a solid background, and don’t wear any hat or sunglasses. Most importantly, look like yourself. The directors want you to show up looking like you did in your pictures. Keep pictures updated if you get a haircut or glasses and take different shots according to the part you submitted for. This will help the odds be ever in your favor!
Second, take all of your measurements. The casting companies normally want height, weight and all clothing sizes, including shoes. Keep these pictures and measurements on your computer or phone where you can get to them quickly.
The pay will vary, but the average pay is $64/8. This means that you will get $64 whether you are there for one hour or eight hours. You will also get time and a half after eight hours. Unless you are working as an audience member at a game show or court show where you get cash on the spot, the paycheck will arrive in two to five weeks. They never let you know ahead of time how long you will be on set, so you must come prepared to stay as long as needed. Bring a good book or something to do in the down time, as there will be a lot of it!
Now let the search begin! There are several casting companies that cast specifically for background actors – Marinella Hume Casting, Extras Casting Atlanta and CL Casting, to name a few. Go to these websites and submit your profile into their database. Also go to their Facebook pages and follow them. When they post a casting call for a date that you are available and you fit the description of what they are looking for, email your pictures and measurements to the email address they provide. Only submit one time. Do this quickly, as submitting fast is the key to getting the job. If you are selected, you will hear back from them with more information.
Whether you are young, old, skinny, not so skinny, male, or female, anyone can do this job. Don’t get discouraged if you are not selected right away. Submit, be on time, behave on set, and be prepared to work a 10-12 hour day. It will not go unnoticed by the casting company. See you on set!
- Take a picture of your car or truck. If they use it in a scene, you will get an additional $25. They usually do not want red, white or black vehicles.
- Be flexible! Many of these jobs are booked a few days ahead and some are last minute.
- Be patient, as there is a lot of “hurry up and wait.”
- Follow directions.
- Don’t take pictures on set.
- Don’t ever ask how long you will be there.