Extras! Stars, Sets and Craft Service


Have you ever wondered what it would be like to rub elbows with the rich and famous? Have you imagined yourself on the set of a huge   Hollywood  feature film and later casually mentioning to your friends, “Yeah, that was me walking past Jack Black!” And have you always wanted a job that took care of your wants. That fed you not once, not twice, but all day long? Well stop looking, you aren’t going to find anything that fits this description better than TV and movie extras.

TV and movie extras are the people you see filling the background behind the stars on your favourite Superbowl commercials, Emmy Award winning TV shows and multi-million dollar  Hollywood  blockbuster movies. This fortunate group is made up of normal people like you and I. People of all ages (yes, including kids from tiny to teens), all types, all sizes and all nationalities. But best of all, TV and movie extras need no professional training, no acting experience and no connections in the film industry.

Ever since the beginning of the film industry (the first onscreen silent picture of 1906 in Australia) the film industry hasn’t failed to produce cash. Just last year, the 2009 box office revenue alone was 29.2 billion worldwide. And that doesn’t even include DVD’s, direct to DVD, TV and commercial revenue. All in all, the film industry is one BIG enchilada. So there is always employment.

Even a down turn in the economy hasn’t diminished the huge revenue or spirits of the film industry. In difficult times, people need entertainment more than ever. They need it as an escape or a rest from their chaotic lives, especially if they’re feeling powerless with losing a job or having to survive on a greatly reduced income. This escape shuts out stress, worries and anxiety. Instead, it takes people right into the comfort and familiar surroundings of the faces and lives of their favorite television characters. Or, on to the never a dull moment ride of an action or adventure flick, whether its only for a few hours.

The 2 Steps to Become an Extra:

STEP 1. Locate and find an extras agency in your area through online websites, especially actor union sites, actor directories and/or actor forums. You want to find a well known extras agency which is in demand with a smaller roster so the competition won’t be too stiff. Extra work is a part-time job, but it can be quite lucrative if you can get to the front lines of your agency.

STEP 2. Phone or email the extras agency. They will have you sign-up online or ask you to come to their offices to fill out paperwork (your personal information) and take a snap shot of you. No, you don’t need any fancy head shots or resume like an actor does.

Well done! You’ve officially entered the industry. Just think, soon you’ll be in the presence of your favorite big name stars. Don’t you just get goose bumps thinking about it? You’re definitely going to have some jealous friends. Don’t forget, you’re now apart of the huge feature film industry and no longer just sitting in the movie theatre watching. You get to see the movie magic happen from within. And it really is amazing.

So, what now? Well, you wait. You wait until your agency calls you with a check of your availability or to book you on a TV show or movie. Make sure you’re available and say so ASAP.

The Extras’ Requirements:

A. You will need a phone: land line and/or cell phone with a voicemail service.

B. As many productions rely on internet, you’ll most likely need access to a computer to receive emails for your booking details.

C. A significant wardrobe of multiple changes and a Halloween costume.

D. A vehicle or reliable transportation.

E. 24/7 Availability. Most film shooting is done Monday through Friday.

F. An imagination that likes to pretend (particularly non-verbal actions).

G. Children need a chaperon. (16 and under)

The Extras’ Benefits:

1. Easy money – extras are paid contractors. Payment starts at $10/hr, but if you get on permit (union) you’re looking at a minimum of $20/hr. If you’re selected to be a stand-in or photo double you can earn hundreds or thousands of dollars for a film shoot. Kids earn the same wages as adults.

2. Food – extras eat constantly. Craft service will provide you with all day snacks, drinks, fruit and veggies and lots of junk/goodies. As well, you’ll mostly like get a hot breakfast and/or a yummy catered buffet lunch.

3. Celebrities – extras get to see stars like Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, Robert Pattinson and/or Kristin Stewart. Even stars you don’t know by name have been through a rigorous audition process and were selected by the producers and/or director. Hey, you might be sitting beside the next Matt Damon or Amanda Seyfried and you could say I saw her when I was an extra on…

4. Sets – extras stand right inside the scenes. You may find yourself running down the streets of a faux New York City, pretending to chat over coffee at an outdoor cafe in Paris or standing in front of a green screen on a studio lot which will later transform into Grand Central Station. Sets great or small set the scene and most importantly extras set the atmosphere.

5. Costumes – extras get to join the game. You might wear your regular garb from home, a penguin suit/cocktail dress or a Halloween costume with a cape, but then again you might be fitted for a uniform worn by a policeman or nurse. Better yet, you might find yourself wearing a period costume: peasant rags, battle armour, Jane Austin formal wear, futuristic body suits, etc.

You’ve seen the movie crews, the commotion, and maybe tried to catch a glimpse of a star or two from across a crowded street straining your eyes to get a peek through the throngs of people, vehicles, cast, crew and equipment. You’ve felt the excitement, seen the magic and yearned to be on the other side of the street. The side with no physical barricades, police or security. Well, now you can. Don’t disappear amongst the spectators. Be front and center (or rather in the background and a little off center)—be one of the extras.

Hey, do you know there’s even a half hour TV sitcom called Extras. It’s a BBC production and supposed to be extremely funny. See, everyone wants to get in on the act! And now you can!

The Extra’s Action Steps

1. Find an extra agency.

2. Get on their roster.

3. Get a cell phone with voice mail.

4. Purchase a small notebook to jot down booking details.

5. Have access to a computer.

6. Assemble a significant wardrobe of multiple changes & a Halloween costume.

7. Have access to reliable transportation.

8. Have 24/7 availability.

See you in the movies!

Source by Julie Wiebe

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