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Movie Extras-Frequently Asked Questions
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  • Do I need professional headshots to be an Extra?
    No, it's not necessary to invest a lot of money for pictures when getting started in this business. Most Extra's Casting Agencies only require that you submit 3X5 color photos as part of the registration process. There are some agencies that might require you to submit 4X6 and 8X10 photos as well. Others might take your picture when you come in to register. A good way to save money is to buy a couple rolls of color film and have a friend take some pictures of you against a white background from the waist up. Try and get a variety of looks. Notice I said looks, not poses. An example of different looks could be: MEN- lawyer, doctor, cop, waiter. WOMEN-nurse, secretary, cocktail waitress,beach babe.


  • Do I need to take acting classes to get work as an Extra?
    Acting classes are not required to get Extra work. When filming, you'll be given some type of action to do that could involve, walking, running, sitting, cheering, or some other physical movement. However you won't be speaking any lines. Those speaking the lines are known as "principals" or "day players". In many scenes you will pretend to have a conversation with someone. This is called "pantomime". Your lips move, but there is no sound. If you plan to get an agent and start going to auditions for speaking roles, then taking acting classes can be very beneficial.


  • Do I have to pay a lot of money to get registered with the Extra's Casting Agencies?

  • Absolutely not! The average registration fee is around \\$25.00. Beware of advertisements that claim they can guarantee work for you. The SCAMS typically get you in the door and charge an outrageous sum of money. They claim to have lots of projects and promise to get you booked. Legitimate agencies don't advertise in the newspaper, nor do they post ads at pay phones. They also do not promise to get you work. The truth is that you either look right for a part or you don't. In other words, if you are short and very skinny, don't expect to be booked as a bodyguard.

  • Do I need to join SAG(Screen Actor's Guild)?

  • No. When you get booked to work as a background actor, you will either work on a non-union or a union production. On a union production, they have a signed contract with the union and they are required to hire union crew and talent, but they are allowed to hire a specific number of non-union talent after the union talent has been filled.

  • How much do Extras make?
    Although you won't get rich working as an Extra, you can make a good living. The rate varies from project to project, and it also depends on the casting agent's commission. There are other variables such as the hours worked and "bumps" (bumps are pay increases for special situations). You may receive bumps for "smoke work", "wardrobe changes", or "wet work" (you get the picture). You also never know when you will be upgraded to a better part. Speaking parts pay much better than non-speaking parts. As you can see it is virtually impossible to say how much you will make working as a background actor.


  • What's the difference between a background actor, an Extra or an atmostphere actor?
    There is no difference! They all mean the same thing..


  • I am average looking-will I get less work?
    On the contrary, average is good in the Extra biz. Extra's are hired to create a realistic atmosphere around the principal characters in a production. The world is filled with people of all sizes, shapes and appearances. Reliability is the key to success in getting work as an Extra.


  • Do I need my own clothes, or are they provided?
    Sometimes they are provided and sometimes you need to bring your own clothes. The type and selection of wardrobe will be given to you in your casting details.


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