The cool part about being an extra is you don’t have to have any formal training to do it. Casting directors look for people of all ages, depending on what they are working on; young people are in high demand. But it’s not as easy as just showing up on set and working. Some extras might need an agent who will then tell you about the parts you can go for.
Agents are not easy to get. You’re going to need to put together a portfolio and hand it out to any agent you can think of. In your portfolio you’ll need headshots (which cost between $200-500), a five-minute demo tape (which shows you a bit) and a resume. This is where having training helps. While you don’t need to have formal training, it will help you acquire an agent faster. There’s a lot of competition out there. Film school helps. Taking individual courses at local acting schools helps too, if you can’t afford (or aren’t ready) to go to film school full-time.
Being an extra is never the same everyday. One day you could be playing an alien, the next a dead creature or maybe a kid in high school.
Movies have to shoot whenever the time is right- and a lot of the time that means at night, outside. Sometimes you have to work from 6pm to 6am, outside, in the cold. Not fun. And about 70 percent of the time, you’ll have to work over 12 hours a day!
Under no circumstances are you allowed to approach or talk to celebrities on a set you are working on. So if you think extra work is a great way to meet all your Hollywood idols, think again. If a celebrity approaches you, that’s totally cool but you have to remember that this is work and not a movie premiere- so leave those cameras at home.
The average extra will make approximately $10 per hour for the first eight hours of work. If they need you to stay on set longer, you’ll make more make as the hours drag on. Every hour after 12 hours of work you’ll make approximately $20 an hour.
“Get an agent. Even if you only want to work during the summer, get an agent just for the summer. And talk to your parents, if you are young, because they’re the ones who are going to have to take you to all the sets and sit with you while you wait to go on.”
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