What to Expect when Working as an Extra on a Film

What to Expect when Working as an Extra on a Film
What to Expect when Working as an Extra on a Film
It can be very exciting to get a call to work as an extra on a feature film, especially, when it is your first time.

Let’s start at the very beginning for what you can expect on a film set. You get a call from an agent or the extras casting director saying that you are needed to work on the set of a feature film. Make sure you are completely free to work all day if needed. Although, you never know how long you will be on a set, It is not unusual to work anywhere between 8-12 hours. I have worked as little as two hours, and as long as 21 hours. You should never accept the booking if you have anyplace you need to be for the entire day.

After getting the call, I would ask if you are working inside or outside to prepare for the day. You will be told what wardrobe is needed, but if you are working outside, and it is very hot or cold, make sure you bring things that will make the day as comfortable as possible. Typically, you will find a medic on the set that has lot’s of medical supplies, still, I would suggest bringing sun tan lotion to keep yourself from getting burned if you are working outside all day. If the weather is cold, make sure you have plenty of layers to stay comfortable.

Sometimes you will be one of thousands of people working that day. You could be part of a scene that takes place in a stadium or a rally. In that case, you most likely will not have the opportunity to watch the actors up close. If it is a smaller call, you might get the chance to see how actors prepare and perform. You might be able to observe the director giving information to the talent. I still find it interesting to watch all of the technical people on the set adjusting the lights, camera and sound. After 26 years in the business, I am still amazed as to how many people it takes to make a film. It is really like a small army.

Being on the set with other actors will give you the chance to network with them. This is a great time to meet, ask questions, exchange business cards and learn more about the market you are wanting to work in.

Taking pictures of actors and asking for autographs is not allowed and generally will be mentioned to people before they go to the set. I have seen people asked to leave for not following this rule.

Some days on the set can be wonderful, sometimes they can be uncomfortable and tough, but no matter what your day is like, remember, you volunteered to be there, so make the most out of the day and try and learn as much as you possibly can.

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  • Mike McIlvain

    I like your notes on being prepared. Very important to do so. I was an extra in Terms of Endearment and the TV move Adam in ’83 in Houston, and preparation made a major difference. I was in several extra scenes in Adam because I had other clothes to change into, so I was used several times.

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