How to be an Extra in a Movie
I recently overheard a conversation on the bus about a woman who was going to an open casting call for extras in a movie being shot locally. I was intrigued, so I tracked down the information and talked my daughter in to joining me on a little adventure… as zombies!
It was a pretty simple process. We emailed our interest as per the Facebook page and got an email back with general information and shooting dates to choose from. We chose our date and were all set! Since it was a bit of a drive, I wanted to be sure we were early, and that actually paid off, as the first six people to check in were “featured extras” and got the extra-deluxe zombie makeup and wardrobe treatment, and a promise to be up front in most of the scenes shot that day!
The day went fast. Indeed we were up front most of the time, and I even volunteered myself as tribute for a close-up fight scene with the movie’s star! We paid attention to direction, let the crew do their thing, and we had a lot of fun. The hardest part was waiting a year for the movie to come out!
No matter how serious you are about hunting down a job as a movie or video extra, or if you just stumble across the opportunity like I did, here are some quick tips to make your experience a good one:
- Do some research – what are they looking for? If you don’t match exactly what they call for, don’t waste their time, or yours. Better luck next time.
- Travel light, but be prepared for a long day. They usually provide water/soft drinks, and maybe a light snack or meal. But bring your own snacks if you can.
- Most productions require that you bring your own wardrobe and arrive with your hair and makeup done. Do NOT wear any clothing or accessory with any sort of logo! Chances are you’ll be sent home.
- Get there early – (You could end up a “featured” extra) They need you, but they’re not going to wait.
- There will be many hours of sitting in a holding area or standing around on set, with no ability to talk or move around. Bring a book or quiet pocket-sized device. A typical day for a crew is 10 – 12 hours, and sometimes longer.
- Follow the rules. Behave yourself. Act professionally at all times. Remember, you have been contracted to work and you are an employee, even if you’re not getting paid.
- Never take photos, bother the crew, or approach the stars. Honor their request for secrecy if they ask it. You wouldn’t want a major plot point spoiled. But do be prepared to help promote the movie when the time comes!
- Don’t get in anyone’s way – face it: You are not there to be ‘discovered.’ You are there to fill a void. Often not even a shot of your face will be used, nor will you get a credit at the end of the movie.
- Do step up if they ask for volunteers for a specific task – you have a better chance at finding yourself identifiable in a scene – and they don’t want to waste time waiting for someone to accept the task.
Above all, they have a schedule to keep, don’t hamper that. Help keep them moving along by being considerate and following the rules and everyone will have a fun experience!
Here is one resource for finding a role as an extra in any location: www.beamovieextra.com/apply
(And catch “Zombies” in theaters Oct 21!)
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