Careers & Education

How to become a movie extra

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Breaking into movies first as an extra on the set could be your first step to becoming the Oscar-winning actor you've always dreamed of being
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You ought to be in pictures!

So you dream of being on the big screen. Maybe you dream of one day becoming the next Dorothy Dandridge, Katherine Hepburn, Halle Berry, Denzel Washington or Nicholas Cage. You can imagine yourself in a drama, high action or comedy movie. When it's time for the award shows you never miss the broadcast and you imagine yourself being interviewed by an entertainment reporter.


Breaking into the Business


Becoming a movie extra is the best way to get started. As an extra you are given the chance to be on a movie set and see how the movie business works. You can even luck out and end up acting next to your favorite star. Being a movie extra is also a great way to travel since there are many films being shot on location in any country or part of the world you can imagine.


Movie extras can learn everything they need to become an extra by simply living everyday life and being on set. Hundreds of celebrities and maybe even your favorite celebrity got their start as an extra. Casting directors, talent agents and production companies are always scouting for extras to fill scenes in their productions


Be Prepared for the Competition


Although becoming a movie extra is easier than landing a starring or supporting role in a big movie, the competition is just as strong. There are thousands of potential extras who show up daily for casting calls. If you are serious about becoming an actor, doing your research is prominent.


Your public library or local book store should be your first stop. Search for books on getting your start as a movie extra. Your next step would be, if you don't already have them, is headshots. Your headshot is your calling card and you should always have a few on hand.


Be Proactive and Make Calls


Call local agency's to find out if they are having casting calls and send over your headshots and resume if you have one. If the agency says they have open calls, find out the day and time and make an appointment so you can attend them. Know that an acting resume is very different from the one need for a regular job. The acting resume should have your stats listed and any kind of acting work you may have done.



What to Expect at Open Calls


At the open calls a photo may be taken of you with a digital camera or you'll videotaped so always look your best. Along with your photo they will take down your height, weight and different statistics about you. Make sure and fill all required information so if a need for extras arises, you can be reached.


Always have a great attitude so you are remembered. Since the movie business is an in-the-moment occupation and you never know when an agency or a casting director will call you for a job, having a working home or cell phone is a must. If you have a full time job it would be wise to know if you'd be able to get the time needed off in advance.


On the Day of Production


Let's say your call time is 8:30; you will want to show up at least 15 minutes before shooting time. An early arrival allows you enough time to find the person in charge of the extras, sign in and fill out all necessary information. Do not venture to any place on the set other than where you are assigned to. Think of this job as your regular full-time job and act accordingly.


At the end of the day, always thank the staff members and leave a great lasting impression. You never know who you could be speaking with and you could be asked back to work on the movie again.


You Don't have to be a Runway Model


One requirement that is not needed for becoming a movie extra is super good looks. You do not need to have a beauty queen or supermodel status. The everyday woman or man, believe it or not, can be an extra. When casting directors are filling roles they are looking for the average person. They are looking for people who can look like the time or era in which the movie is taking place.


Another thing to keep in mind is there is no need to go out and spend thousand of dollars on acting schools. The majority of roles for extras do not require extreme acting. In a scene you could just be eating, running or just sitting on a bench. Now if you do feel you need to get an acting coach, find one that's reputable and doesn't cost a lot of money. Ask around or do your research before you put money down.


If breaking into the movie business is your dream then becoming a movie extra is a great way to get your start. You may not get the big paychecks as the star of the movie but you are on your way. All you need is the right information and confidence.

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