With a few years experience as an extra I thought I would share my insider knowledge on how to get on TV.
What exactly is an extra?
An ‘Extra’ or ‘Supporting Artist’ as they are often called are the people you see in the crowd and background of television programmes and films. They are there to make the scenes look more realistic and to support the main cast. Hence the term ‘Supporting Artist’.
Could I be an extra?
- Are you free at short notice?
- Do you have a flexible work schedule?
- Are you able to travel to set?
- Are you reliable?
- Can you get up early?
If you answered Yes to all the above then you have already passed the first stage of becoming an Extra!
I’ve never acted in my life. Do I need experience?
Nope. None what so ever. You can become an extra without a hint of acting training. It really is open to anybody.
Where do I start?
The first thing you want to do is to make sure you have suitable photographs of yourself to provide to the casting agency’s. These are used to decide if you are the right look for particular television programmes and films. Professional head shots are not required, so don’t go spending any unnecessary money. All you need is a clear photograph of yourself against a plan background. You will need a head and shoulders photo as well as a full length shot.
Here is one that I use:
I’ve taken my photos.. Now what?
These sites want a lot of information. Do I have to write it all?
Yes. If you want to get cast in anything the production teams will need all your information. They will ask for things like your National Insurance Number to ensure you are eligible to work in the UK. You will need to provide accurate and up to date body measurements to ensure costumes will be suitable for you. They will want to know your experience with acting and of course your bank details so you can get paid!
How much money can I expect to earn?
Don’t go into this thinking you will get rich because you won’t. Working as an extra is not a stable income and people often do this work around other jobs. The average amount to earn is around £95 for a 12.5 hour working day. But this can vary from production to production.
When will I get my first job?
This can vary dramatically you may hear from them tomorrow or it could be in a few months. It all depends what is shooting in your area and what ‘type’ of people they require for the shoot.
Is there anyway of upping my chances of getting work?
Not really. But I would recommend following your casting agency on Facebook and Twitter. It’s a good way to see what is upcoming and to put yourself forward for particular roles. Be eagle eyed and keep your ears peeled for any information about a film or television series shooting in your area.
OMG! I’ve been booked for my first job. What can I expect?
A very early call time! Ugh! I’m not a morning person and this is the one part of the job I will never get used to. A lot of them time you are required to be on set anywhere from 6AM! Ouch! Always read the briefing you have received from the casting agency. If it’s states no make-up and no nail varnish make sure you don’t turn up with a lot of slap on and bright neon nails, this will not go down well with the production company and they could even turn you away. The days can often be long and tiring so make sure you take a book to entertain yourself as there is a lot of waiting around.
If anyone has any questions leave them in the comments and I can add them to the blog post with my answer.
Good Luck & Break A Leg!