I’m sure you’ve all seen them, the people who just wander about in the background of your favourite tv series or film. ‘Imagine how lucky they are getting to work on some incredible pieces of film and rubbing shoulders with the stars? I bet they get loads of money for it as well! It’s so easy I bet anyone could do it!’ Unfortunately this is not always the case and today I am going to let you in on the secrets of what it is really like to be a supporting artist or extra.
A day in the life of a typical extra (Slightly exaggerated for your reading pleasure but not that far from the truth):
Message from Agent at 10PM
Agent : ‘Can you be in Timbuktu tomorrow morning? Please take along all the bright coloured clothes you own and bring outfit options for the costume department to choose from. Call time is 6AM’
Me: I’ve never even heard of Timbuktu and I can’t find it on my Sat Nav. How the hell am I supposed to get there? Also I’m practically Wednesday Adams’ sister so where am I going to find bright coloured clothes by tomorrow morning? 6AM!? I’ll have to wake up at 4AM to make sure I’m there on time.
Alarm Goes Off at 4AM
Oh for the love of god! Why did I say yes to this shoot?
Crying on the Motorway
It’s pitch black, my sat nav isn’t working and I’m lost. I can’t find this bloody place!
I Made It
Ok so I got here in the end and I wasn’t late but now I’m wandering around on my own because I don’t know anyone and I don’t know where I’m supposed to go.
Costume & Makeup Instantly Hate You
Costume: ‘Are these the only bright coloured clothes you have? They won’t do. You’ll have to wear this rainbow jumpsuit from the costume department that shows all your lumps and bumps’
Makeup: ‘Do you already have makeup on? You’ll have to take all that off, here’s a face wipe.’
Now I look as shit as I’ve ever looked and it’s going to be forever on film.
Sorry You’ve Missed Breakfast
You’ve now spent so long with Costume and Makeup that the breakfast caterers have closed and all that’s left is toast but there’s no butter, plates or knives.
On Set at 8AM
We all get herded like cattle to where the actual filming is taking place and are told to sit down and be quiet whilst the crew set up for the shot.
Wait for 5 Hours
I’ve been chatting to lots of people and we’ve actually made the most of a dire situation by laughing and joking away the 5 hours that we haven’t been used for.
Unfortunately I wasn’t at the head of the pack for the lunchtime queue and now the caterers have run out of any food I might have possibly liked. ‘Can I just have a plate of saute potatoes then please?’
Back to Set
Once again we get herded back to where we will be filming and this time we are actually getting used in a scene! We are required to dance as if we are really enjoying ourselves but there’s no music playing and it’s fucking freezing!
5 Hours Later
I’m freezing to death and I’ve now been here for 12 hours and want to go home! I’m tired, hungry and my costume is itching me and I’m scratching like I have fleas.
That’s a Wrap
Oh thank god it’s over! Everyone is in a stampede back to base where we need to hand any costumes back in and get paperwork signed to prove we actually worked for the day. The queue is ridiculous and I wait impatiently for my turn to sign my name on a piece of paper which takes a further 30 minutes!
Back in my Car
It’s pitch black again and I’ve now been awake for 16 hours and just want my bed.
Finally Make it Home
Goodnight, I will now sleep for a year.
3 Months LATER
I’ve finally been paid and I made a huge sum of… £57.63…. What the FUCK!? I was there all day! After Agency Fees, Tax & Petrol I’m left with hardly anything!