How To Be A Movie Extra: How To Be A Good Extra In A Movie

9th July 2021

How To Be A Movie Extra: How To Be A Good Extra In A Movie
Maria Hanlon

Maria Hanlon

Have you ever watched a movie and wondered how to be a movie extra? Or maybe you thought, I’d love to be on set during this scene? Well, get your pens to the ready as after reading our guide you could be!

woman with clapperboard

In this article, we will go through everything you need to know about how to be a movie extra. Sound good to you? Then keep on reading!

What Is A Movie Extra?

woman with clapperboard

A movie extra is someone who appears in a film or TV show but has no lines. Although movie extras are usually in the background, a director can decide to place them anywhere depending on each scene.

Movie extras give the viewers a sense of realism whilst watching the scene. For example, if there was a busy restaurant scene during the film, there would be movie extras in the restaurant eating, drinking, and chatting as if the scene was taking place in real life.

Becoming a movie extra can be a really good starting point when pursuing an acting career. As an extra you’ll gain plenty of experience on set, working with other actors, directors, and crew members.

What Does A Movie Extra Do?

how to be a movie extra

You might be wondering, what does a movie extra do? Being a movie extra can be a really exciting but demanding role, below are the main responsibilities of the job.

Appear On Set On Time

It’s vital to be punctual. As an extra you don’t want to make a bad impression otherwise you might not be cast again or another extra might take your place.

Provide Your Own Wardrobe

Often a movie extra will have to provide their own wardrobe or have their costume approved by production.

Know Who To Report To

Movie extras must know who they can report to, who they can ask questions on set and when their breaks are. 

Work Long Hours

Usually, extras will work for at least eight hours, but can often work as many as 12-16 depending on each shoot.

How To Be A Movie Extra

clapperboard and film reel

If you’d like to become a movie extra and advance your acting career, follow these simple steps for success:

1. Research Talent Agencies 

Look online for casting websites and talent agencies. Do your research and find out which agencies have excellent casting records, and which films their clients have been in.

2. Have A High-Quality Headshot

The next step is getting a headshot taken. Most producers cast extras based on their appearance, so your headshot has a big part to play in whether you are cast or not.

3. Sign With A Casting Agency

Sign up with an agency that has a brilliant record with its clients. The process is usually free; however, you will have to pay your agency to process your headshot and paperwork.

Also, note that some agencies might offer to take a headshot for you, but you will have to pay an additional fee for this. It’s also a good idea to sign with a few different agencies as this will broaden your opportunities.

How To Apply To Be An Extra In A Movie

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So, how do you actually apply to be an extra in a movie? Let’s go through it step by step.

  1. Look for adverts in newspapers as they might mention that they need background talent.
  2. Check out entertainment and industry websites as they often share information about new developments in the industry including upcoming movie extra jobs, directors and casting agents.
  3. Sign up to casting websites such as Star Now which regularly post acting adverts.
  4. Contact directors. Research which directors have open casting calls for extras and email them.
  5. Find reputable casting agencies by investigating their fees. Typically, most casting services for extras are free but some may charge a small fee to process your headshot and paperwork. Avoid services that charge a lot or that try to sell you acting classes.
  6. A really important one – network with other extras, actors, and members of the crew. Reach out to them as they might be able to help you find work, or if you meet on set ask for their email address so you can stay in touch after. This will increase your chances of working together again in the future, resulting in more work.

How To Be A Good Extra In A Movie

clapperboard how to be a movie extra

There can be SO many extras on set, in fact The Guinness World Record for the most extras ever used in a film is held by ‘Gandhi.’ The film featured around 300,000 extras in a funeral scene! Obviously, this is an extreme example, but it’s really important to do a good job and impress everyone you work with.

Here are our top tips on how to do that:

  1. Prepare prior to the shoot by checking and responding to emails to make sure you’re on top of any information that could change, for example wardrobe, time, location. The more competent you are, the more likely you’ll be asked to work again.
  2. Make friends with the right people. The best people to befriend during breaks are directors and PA’s as they’re the ones who could potentially open doors for you. Although remember, they’ll also be very busy so pick a good moment to strike a conversation. The wrong people to socialise with are the stars of the show. As cool as it sounds to become best friends with Margot Robbie, she has other, more important things to focus on whilst on set.
  3. Never take photos. We know it can seem tempting to take some behind the scenes photos and share them on social media, but please don’t! Many shoots are secret, or the film has not been announced yet so don’t ruin this…and your chances of being cast again!
  4. Stay in the background. An extra is also known as a ‘background actor’ for a reason. Don’t draw too much attention to yourself as it could spoil a really important scene. Simply do what you’re asked to do and remember…never look directly at the camera!

Now You Know How To Be A Movie Extra

how to be a movie extra

And…CUT! You’re now equipped with the top tips on how to become a movie extra, how to apply, and how to be a really good movie extra.

We hope you’ve found this useful and hopefully you’ll be in the background of some future films we watch! Whilst you’re here, why not check out some more of our articles on our blog? We recommend The Ultimate Guide On How To Learn Lines and How To Audition For A Movie to get you started!  

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