Acting : Offered a spot as an Extra on upcoming film? by Tiffany D

Tiffany D

Offered a spot as an Extra on upcoming film?

Hey all, just looking for some input. I was contacted about being an extra in a "major scene" for a movie that is filming right now. They are telling me to expect 12-hour days, possibly more than one day, and a pay of $102 for each 12-hour day. In your experience, is it worth it? I'm not overly concerned about the pay, but I admit it was less than I was expecting. I currently have NO imdb credits, or any experience acting, but I have been trying to get some and this has been my first opportunity thus far. Thanks guys, Tiffany

D Marcus

Take every experience you can! Not for the IMdB credits. For the experience.

Sallie Cowan

You have to start somewhere (with no acting experience, what are your expectations?...) , and plenty of name brand actors were extras early in their career. You will not get rich on extras gigs, but they're an opportunity to see how things are done on set - learn the terminology, rhythm and procedures - and also to network.

Tiffany D

Thanks for both of your input. It was definitely not about the money; should have specified if being an extra is something that can be beneficial in the future in terms of going after future roles. I've seen some directors/actors say that extra work is essentially irrelevant when trying to get bigger roles.

Denise Anderson

I say, go for it. It's the best way to gain knowledge of how the industry works, thus getting notice by a director on set. If they like you enough, you may even have a great chance of getting picked for bigger and better things!!!

Sallie Cowan

I think I know what you were getting at... there is a caution against doing so much extras work that it puts you into that "category" in terms of how you're viewed (i.e. you have a resumé of nothing but). But you definitely can glean helpful education and relationships from it.

William Joseph Hill

Definitely if you have no experience, this is a great way for you to get on a real movie set and see how things are run professionally. I think most of us actors did extra work when we were brand "newbies", so there's nothing wrong with it. It won't directly lead to future roles, but it won't hurt you in that respect either. There are those who pursue regular extra work and can make their living that way, but that interferes with their ability to go after speaking roles since their time and energy is being spent pursuing the extra work. Directors and Casting Directors don't look at extra work as acting experience -- and it isn't something that you would list on your resume/CV. But you will learn a LOT just by watching the crew and actors work.

Angela Allen

Tiffany that's awesome! I'm glad you posted this question. I am new to all of this and am trying to get extra work , I am a member of AIH and am curious as to how being an extra goes. Please keep us posted. Thanks, Angela Allen

Suzanne Bronson

I did extra work for 3 years. That's how I became SAG Eligible. I don't put it on my resume nor IMDB, but the experience of being on set and getting to learn how things work -especially coming from stage- is worth it. But once you get your SAG eligiblity I would bail. Whatever you do, DO NOT GO UNION TO DO EXTRA WORK. Also be professional and make a good impression on the ADs and hopefully they will remember you for more work.

Celeste Allen

Tiffany, I am doing the same thing as being an "Extra" for a movie being shot in Philly!! I'm told that any acting gig u can get will help ur process & u can become " Sag eligible with 3 vouchers! That's ur pay stub voucher that u filled out at the beginning of ur shoot for that day!! My pay is the same as urs per 12 hrs as a non-union actor!! I hear the pay is better once u r a Sag member!!

AJ Taylor

It will be great experience, I have done it. Pay attention to everything that goes on, listen and watch you will see what it takes to make a film or show.

Mark Chapman

If you want to be an actor then you nodoubt will take some classes, join an am dram group and act! Extra work in the UK is frowned upon and can work against you, or as friend of mine has done, you end up being a full time extra standing around all day watching people do what you hoped to do!!

Jim Dougherty

That pay rate is in line with most I've seen in major markets for non-union background work. 8.5 / hr. Although that usually is at 8 hours with time and a half after 8. Regardless, as others have stated experience on a working breathing set is invaluable. If you have none, you should jump at the chance to both see how the set functions and network with other background performers. Plus there is always an opportunity to get bumped up. I know a guy who worked The Scorpion King, got bumped from background to a 2 line speaking role and earned his SAG eligibility. Every experience brings something to the table.

Justen Overlander

I'll echo the other commenters and encourage you to take the opportunity to get on set. Consider yourself lucky to get paid to do this. One of my first experiences on set was as an unpaid extra for a Tim Allen movie. It wasn't an overly positive experience at the time, but I observed and took in a lot about how movies are made. I don't regret doing it.

Lynne Alana Delaney

Definitely a "go", Tiffany! This business is all about learning, absorbing and networking! Being a fly on the wall...or maybe in this case...a 'patron in a restaurant' is a wonderful opportunity to see how things are done in real Hollywood style. Many say that being a 'Background Actor' can feel like low man/woman on the totem pole, but having the right attitude and enjoying the experience while you learn can be invaluable. A bit like starting out in the mail room? I know many who got their SAG cards through background work and went on to long careers as working actors. They credit the comfort they felt knowing what to do, where to be and how to act on set when they finally did have their first major speaking role, to their experience of background work. It's a wonderful way to start building your network of people you know on the business side of what they call 'Show Business'!

Walter Andrew Carmona

I have been acting for ten years and have been on sets with some major actors. I have had speaking roles as bad guys, cops and good guys too. I have been an extra umpteen times and have had featured extra parts in stuff like Ving Rhames's" Evil Angel", Rob Diamond's "Negotiating Life," among others. I say all this not to boast what I've been in, but to tell you that if you "LOVE" acting as I do you will just want to be on every set you possibly can, doing whatever, because that's the joy of this journey. I am going to an audition for an extra or featured extra part in Steven Seagal's "Code of Honor" Sat 2/21. We should take advantage of every opportunity to get on a movie set because you never know...you might be discovered, and you get to meet and see the actors you admire and aspire to be like. I am going to meet one of my screen heroes; Steven Seagal, whose martial arts prowess I so admire. I have always wanted to meet him and I finally will. Credits and money and all the other stuff will follow if you perfect your craft. So be that elf or insignificant girl in the shadows for a hundred bucks. Its VERY worth the effort!!!

Josephine Pizzino

How lucky you are! You are a "featured" background actor and are getting more than most nonunion actors get. It may even lead to a waiver, and with 3 you can join SAG. Use your computer to do research on background, and you will realize you are starting at a very good place since most of us begin in huge groups and will rarely (if ever) be seen on camera. Also, Facebook has lots of groups to check out, some based by location (Background NYC or NY Filmmakers' 911) while others might cater more to a skill set, like modeling or stunts. You're on your way! Congratulations!

Taylor Hay

This is just my own opinion, but I wouldn't be in a huge hurry to join SAG-AFTRA as you severely limit your role possibilities. Keep in mind that as a SAG member, you will be competing for principle roles against very experienced actors with long resumes. There is a lot of well paying non-union work out there and until your resume is able to compete with the bigger names, you'll be doing yourself a disservice to join the union. I think doing extra work is fine when you're starting out, especially commercial background work where your chances of getting bumped are higher. I just wouldn't use your vouchers as an means to and end that you may not be ready for. Just my two cents.

Rick Beebe

I agree with pretty much everything said before. Do it for the experience and to see how a production works. Realize that on many productions extras are lower than the people taking out the trash and try not to be offended. It can be a way to get SAG waivers but I also agree that you shouldn't rush to join the union. I know people who were making a fair living in LA being extras until they joined SAG. A film needs to hire a minimum number of SAG extras but then all the rest can be non-union so suddenly they were competing for those far fewer jobs. Realize for the most part you're considered set dressing and not an actor. The odds of being "discovered" are small. And finally, realize that extra work isn't really worth anything on a resume. It is, however, a good opportunity to network with crew. Befriend that PA and you may someday be working on their film when they're a big-name director.

Tiffany D

Thanks everyone! This is all very encouraging. I definitely agree that I should, and want to, take any opportunity given to me right now. I am excited mostly just to see how everything is done! Celeste, the movie I am doing is here in Philadelphia, too! I bet it's the same one? ;-)

Candice Creelman

Background work (non-union) generally pays really poorly, so that's normal. They're supposed to pay minimum wage if it's a union shoot. But yes, do it for the experience. I'm now a filmmaker, but I started as a background performer. You'll have a great vantage point to see what life on set is like and if this is really what you want to do. The days are long (12 hours is average, but can be lots longer), and for background, can be very boring. LOTS of sitting in holding twiddling your thumbs. Take a book (or 2) to read, or a computer / tablet. Make sure you have something to do for when you're not on set. Take snacks as they won't always have the kind of snacks you like, and anything that you need for the day. Do what the AD's (Assistant Director) tell you to do, that's they're job. To make sure you get signed in, through processing (hair, makeup, wardrobe check) and on set whey you're needed. They're under constant pressure from above, so if they say it's time to go to set, don't dilly-dally. I used to do this job and nothing pisses of an AD more than when a BG performer doesn't "feel like" going to set. We get yelled at from above if BG isn't on set when called. When on set, watch, observe, stay quiet, and do what you're told, be focused and learn as much as you can. The terminologies will sound like a foreign languages (it kind of is), but you'll get to know what everything means over time. If you don't know what something means, ask another bg performer. Don't bug the cast or crew. If you're really stumped, the AD that's wrangling you around (if they're handy) can help. Just don't pester them too much. They're extremely busy. If there is a major or minor star on set, do not, I repeat do not approach them unless they talk to you first. This is a big no-no. It sounds like a lot of rules, but they're there for a reason. Once you get the feel for things, it can be a lot of fun. And who knows where it could lead. Oh, and don't expect to be "discovered" by being an extra. That won't likely happen. You're there to get experience and get to know people. And to be in the film biz. Nothing more. Another word of caution. At some point in your career, if you decide to do more with acting, you'll want to drop BG work. Listing a bunch of that on your resume doesn't help you get roles. In fact, it hurts more than it helps. (ie. don't list BG on IMDB) "Extras" are considered space fillers most of the time, though I don't agree with this mentality as bg plays a vital role when there's crowd scenes, but that's the general attitude. Some sets, they will treat you wonderfully, others, they'll treat you like a piece of meat. Don't take it personally. Where you will benefit is just the experience and getting to know the terminology and how films are made. That's what the MOST valuable part of being an extra is all about. But you want to make sure that you find yourself a good agent that can get your face out to casting directors and get you auditions. You need to learn how to audition, taking acting classes, maybe even go to film or theatre school to develop your craft as an actor. If you're serious about this being your career, that's what it takes. No actor, director, producer, etc, ever just started right how of the gate in major roles or high level positions. It takes many, many years to get good at what you do. And, fyi? Most people aren't good at what they do at the start. Writer's first scripts always suck, directors first films always suck. It doesn't mean you'll suck forever. But if you really have a passion for the craft, you'll do what it takes to get good. The great actors, directors, writers, producers, etc only got to where they are because they loved what they do more than anything, and were willing to do whatever it took to get good and succeed. It's a tough business, full of disappointment and extremely hard work and long hours, but worth every second of it, if you love it. Good luck on set and have fun. :)

Walter Andrew Carmona

You go girl! Yea, the SAG thing is overrated and then ya gotta pay dues. I would rather take a lower pay scale until I'm doing BIG stuff. Definitely have fun and enjoy the experience. Above all... LEARN.

Walter Andrew Carmona

I don't find it boring at all. Being discovered does happen, just not often. I was. Also don't listen to negative feedback about the hours and the drudgery because its not like that for me at all. I find every moment thrilling both in behind the scenes work, which without it the movie may not happen, and in major roles. You are important to the making of movie and getting to a higher sphere on the totem pole just takes dedication and skill. I enjoy being a piece of meat if I'm gonna learn and get to interact with other actors. BGs are aspiring actors as well and many will eventually make it. Right time, right film, right role. it happens kiddo!

Asmeeta Bhogaita

Lucky girl, all the best

David A. Krajci

Everyone has to start somewhere. "Extra" work is a good place to start.

Sallie Cowan

Hey Brian OHara- WTF? This is a site for serious creatives. You need to take that somewhere else!!!

Walter Andrew Carmona

Brian, that was crude and uncalled for. Very stupid, and crass.

Josephine Pizzino

That's really inappropriate, Brian O'Hara, in several ways.

Candice Creelman

Thanks you RB for deleting that. Very inappropriate. Can he be banned from Stage 32. Not really the kind of content that is wanted here...

Sallie Cowan

Candice, I sent him a link to the thread... Impossible for him to see everything being posted and know when there's something so inappropriate - I think it's a responsibility of users to help him preserve the integrity of the site...

Richard "RB" Botto

Hey Candice. Warning has been sent. Always give members here a second chance. But please let me know if anything else occurs. As Sallie mentioned, with almost 400,000 members and almost 60,000 Lounge discussions, it's impossible for my staff to catch it all. That's why we always ask our incredibly positive minded community members to help us police the site. Never hesitate to report any questionable behavior to support@stage32.com Thanks! Now back to your regularly scheduled program! RB

Celeste Allen

Way to go Candice!! Keeping things clean!!

Christopher Inlow

Tiffany, This really depends on what you want out of acting, You may meet some people and make some contacts that could lead to bigger and better things. You may also get bumped up to a speaking role. It's very possible. You could also end up sitting on a set freezing to death for 12 hours. So if you do go.... be prepared to just.... sit around. Let me give you a little bit of free advice. I have seen a lot of people that thrive on "extra" work when they want to be a serious actor, Now I don't know if you want to be serious or not. I also know people that make their living doing extra work. So I will not speak against that if that is what you want to do. Listen to me though, If you want to act- go act. I would say to start in theatre. Take some acting workshops. DO NOT GO HIRE AN ACTING COACH. you don't need one. You need to learn the basics and 99 percent of acting coaches are not worth the money. I've seen a lot of people waste their hard earned money on Acting Coaches. Also. I have seen people that do extra work so they can get their SAG card..... don't worry about SAG right now. Honestly, If you want to act, There are a million Indie films that are shot and you don't need a SAG card to be in them. If you cant get hired... write your own stuff to act in, you can act on street corners, you can rent theatres, write skits, start a you tube channels, there are a million ways to act. A million styles. Acting is a blessing because you can be anything, do anythingou ca, and do it any where.... Don't let anything stop you if thats what you want to do. Don't feel like you have to be an EXTRA if you want to be the STAR. You can do anything that you want to do you just have to figure out how to do it. So yeah, to answer your question. If you want to be an extra and make a little bit of money.... go do it. If you want to be the star of your own productions.... I say go do that. I personally don't want to be an extra.

Roberta Griffin

If your calendar is clear, I say go for it. No matter what your goal in this industry is, keep your eyes open, observe and learn. Get as much as you can out of this experience and most of all enjoy it. I played an extra on a major motion picture a few years back and I had the best time ever. Met some really nice people and got to see the hard and serious work these filmmakers are putting forth behind the camera. I had a great experience and I hope you do too.

Vidas Pliodzinskas

The more time that you spend on the set the better. They are paying a reasonable amount given that you are an extra. Also, you receive tons of perks of being talent on a film set - good networking (maybe you can find a mentor), experience in acting, and experience in receiving direction.

Leathur Rokk

I got my start in Hollywood major motion pictures doing extra stuff.In that time I indeed met lots of people.I got to collect 8 SAG vouchers.I got to (for a time) have an agent. (Tho he left the biz soon after 9/11.) I learned so much about "the set" through my years as an extra,then getting the 5 lines, then thinking i was maybe getting my break because of some featured scenes that ended up getting cut anyhow...... i also learned that even with an agent, it was still up to me to be proactive and i booked fully half of my own gigs, and i am convinced that if i had held out for more substantial parts than the mere background gigs, i would have missed out on a lot. Also I read good books about acting.Its always important to educate yourself.

Richard "RB" Botto

Terrific post, Leathur. A ton of great points.

Pat McCord

I'm an author wanting to learn about screen writing. In other words I'm "not real" yet. BUT, I love hanging out here and finding out about this world. Best to you, Tiffany. Sounds like this could be a memorable experience. From my point of view I'd suggest taking copious notes so you can later write a scene in which a character gets hired to be an extra.

Walter Andrew Carmona

Like I said before, I NEVER turn down extra work because I LOVE being on a set and I learn sooooo much. Although I have done some major work with nice roles, I just got booked for the Pilot of "Boom" as an extra. Its three days and I can use the experience and the $300.00 smackeroos! If you love the ocean..swim in it kiddo!

Celeste Allen

Congrats Walter!! Enjoy!! I wind up doing 7 days as an Extra on the movie; "Creed"!! Loved it!! & Met some awesome people!!

Walter Andrew Carmona

Thanx Celeste. Started that BOOM series pilot today. Met great people as well. Don't you just LOVE IT!!??

Walter Andrew Carmona

Leathur Roks!!! I've been on 100 sets and still learned something new today on the set of the series pilot for "BOOM"

Joey Laston

If you're acting for your love of acting and not the pay, then extra work is the best work. You get to converse with other actors, not as much pressure for lines, and you get to have fun with your characters back story. Main cast, have to follow the script, you as an extra can do things that the leads cannot. If your in a market scene you can interact with others, maybe plan to start a tussle, haggle over an item. Your job is meant to not distract from the main action, but enhance it. I did some extra work as a soldier in a student military movie. I actually planned a brawl with another soldier, we ran it by our director and he thought it would add to the scene. You can't always get away with that on large films, but you might be able to slip something in.

Jonathan Roberts

Never turn down the opportunity for work... they have often times added speaking roles to a very FEW extras just because they had the look they were looking for. Also its the people you meet doing this that may know someone that knows someone that could use you in their next project

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