Bringing The Extra To Being An Extra:
When an actor appears in the background of a scene, this is
what's known as an Extra or "Background
Performer". This is how SAG (The Screen Actors Guild)
The role of an extra is just like it sounds. It gives the
scene a realistic look - whether its a restaurant, or a football
game, or a street scene - filling up the scene with realistic
looking people gives an authenticity to the scene.
Many times during the filming, they will use the actual sound of the
scene. This is particularly true if they are filming a city scene or
something on location. But many times, a scene can be filmed on a
soundstage, or even on a set on a studio lot, and they can add in
sound and effects later. But it's the people that give a scene that
authentic "crowd" look.
Occasionally - you'll see extras given a little bit to say in
a scene. This might be a waiter coming over and saying "may I
take your order", or even a passer-by saying "lookout. As
soon as you say a line as an actor - you are immediately given the
status of "Actor" by the Screen Actor's Guild. And, you
must then be upgraded in pay to what is called a "Day
Player". You are no longer an extra any longer.
So, becoming an extra is a great way to introduce yourself to what
movie sets are all about, learn all of the different roles on a set
and really learn how actors work on a movie sets.
Act Big - But Start Small
Being an extra is almost certainly not your career goal. Heck, it
might not even sound very exciting at first - but it's a great way
to introduce yourself to what movie sets are all about - so don't
As you star to network and work with other actors, you might hear of
an "Extra" opportunity. Or, you might hear of a student
film that needs extras. Or, you'll see casting calls, or even just
plain advertisements for extra work. Don't pass those up. They're an
amazing way to make a quick dollar (or $40) and you'll be working on
a real live movie, television show or commercial set. And this is
the real payment. Because this is better than any school. This is
the real world - and if you're on a small enough set, you'll be able
to watch much of the shooting.
Pay attention to how the lighting folks work up the scene, and how
the director works with the crew, and then the actors. Watch how the
actors pay attention to the details, hit their mark and work with
the other actors. It's great experience.
And, you never know, you might get asked to say a line - and get
bumped up do "day player".