Advice and Tips for Actors Helpful thoughts on acting from someone who wasn't the least successful actor of all time.

March 25, 2008

Getting On Your Favorite TV Show, as an Extra

Filed under: acting philosophy,film,TV — Eitan @ 11:17 am

This post is all about how to get on your favorite TV show, as an extra. It’s not going to appeal to many of the people who read this looking to make a career as an actor. Why?

Because in the eyes of the film/TV industry being an extra is not acting. I’m not saying that being an extra requires no ability to be directed, be believable and know how to work on camera. I’m just saying it doesn’t count as acting work. That means you don’t get to put extra work on your acting resume and you shouldn’t tell agents you meet with about your extra work. If you want to do it, do it for the fun and learning experience of being on set (and the money, you do get paid to be an extra after all). I don’t care how much camera time you get or if people refer to your character by a name, if your contract doesn’t say “principle” you’re an extra. Sorry.

So, why then am I writing about this? Because enough people find my site from around the world who might just be interested in being on a TV show or a movie for one day, seeing themselves as a blur on the background and they’d be happy with that. Kudos to them.

If you’re still reading you want to find out how to get on Greys Anatomy or CSI as an extra. Maybe you’re interested in seeing how a set works up close, you want some spending cash or you just want to see if you can get Katherine Higel to yell at you. Well, don’t do that last one. Be nice.

So the first step is going to be heading over to Central Casting and signing up. Yes, that Central Casting. You can go to their website or call up to get information about registering. They have different times/dates if you’re union or non-union.

After you’re signed up you have to call a job line and they list the jobs that they’re casting at that moment. They give you a number to call if you qualify for that job (men with handlebar mustaches and velvet leisure suits), you call and the background casting director will say if they want you or not based on your look. It’s that simple.

You’ll vastly increase your chances of working if you have lots of different wardrobe choices and are tenacious about calling in. Police uniforms are good, lab coats are good as is formal wear. They’re supposed to pay you extra if you bring your own wardrobe, to cover cleaning costs.

But if you want to be an extra, that’s how you do it.

How much do you get paid to be an extra? Minimum wage if you’re non-union. Slightly more if you’re union. You probably won’t be sending your kids off to Harvard on a film/TV extra salary. But if you want to spend a couple days working on your favorite TV show or a big upcoming movie, this is your best and easiest way.

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