After my recent post on my movie scene with Reese Witherspoon I received a couple of questions about being a movie extra and I have received similar questions in the past when I wrote about being an extra. I thought I had written a post about the process of being a movie extra here before, but it turns out the post I was remembering was a short post on Bank Bonuses that I wrote way back in 2006. That post didn’t have a lot of information and I know a little bit more about being an extra now so I’m writing this post to answer people’s questions on this subject.
How to Get a Job as an Extra
The most common question about being an extra is how to get a job as an extra. For my first two extra jobs were when I lived in Austin where they usually have a couple of movies or so shoot there each year. For both jobs there was an article in the local paper about a casting call for the movies. They want you to show up to the casting call with a head shot. You don’t need to get a professional headshot, you can just take one yourself. The casting employees aren’t too worried about the quality of the photo, they just want to have a clear idea of what you look like. After filling out a short application I then waited several months before I was contacted to work on the movie. My most recent job I responded to a post on the extra companies Facebook page stating that they needed extras for the next week. I found this company by doing a Swagbucks search for “extra casting” in Atlanta. Note that when you do an internet search for extra casting a lot of the results will be scams. The scams are mostly obvious, but remember you should never have to pay to work with an extra casting company. Also, I was lucky to get the last job since I didn’t live in the Atlanta area. Most extra companies only want to deal with locals since they might need you to work on the spur of the moment or the job might be canceled at the last minute.
How Long Does an Extra Job Last?
The length of the extra job will vary. My first extra job lasted a couple of weeks with weekends and a couple of random days off. My second extra job was only for one day and my last one was for seven days over a week and a half period. When you’re hired for a job they should tell you about how many days it will be, but you will need to be flexible.
Typical Day of Being an Extra
Being an extra is a pretty easy albeit somewhat boring job. Most of the day is spent in an extra holding area. This is an area away from the set where you wait until a PA comes to take you to the set for the scene. I spent most of my time in the holding area talking to other extras and reading books on my Kindle. The typical day lasts from ten to sixteen hours. These are long days, but since you are mostly just sitting around they aren’t that bad. When you are called to the set you will be given further instructions on what to do. A couple of general rules are to not bring your cell phone to the set and to not bother the actors or crew. Since the days are so long you will be given a meal at some point and they usually have snacks and drinks available throughout the day as well. The quality of the food and beverage varies by the job. The food is usually okay but not great. On one occasion when there were just a few extras working we got to eat with the cast and crew and their food was much better.
How Much Does Being an Extra Pay?
Being an extra does not pay much. My pay on the jobs I’ve done was always just a little bit above minimum wage. On the plus side, you do get overtime when you work over eight hours and you almost always work over eight hours. The overtime and the long days make the paycheck a little better despite the low wage, but being an extra isn’t a lucrative job. I think it is worth it since the work is easy and if you are lucky you might get to see yourself on the big screen with a movie star.