How to stand out as an Extra on Set
As an extra, your number one goal should be making a good impression on the people who matter; you want to be likeable, friendly, and above all, professional.
Congratulations! You’re an extra. You’ll spend a long day waiting around in an extras holding room, and at the end of it, you just might see your left elbow on screen for half a second. It’s pretty exciting!
Before you march off to set, there are a few things you should know about how an extra should behave. Read this list carefully to avoid any awkward faux pas or, heaven forbid, getting fired. As an extra, your number one goal should be making a good impression on the people who matter; you want to be likeable, friendly, and above all, professional.
Read emails thoroughly and respond quickly.
A working actor should check their email several times a day and respond immediately to everything. If you’ve been booked as an extra, you want to stay on top of any information that could change, be it wardrobe, location, or time. The more competent you are, the more likely it is they’ll ask you to come back.
Be on time.
In the movie business, no one likes to wait for anybody to show up—especially not an extra. They will not hold production for you. Be professional and show up when they ask.
Bring the right wardrobe.
As an extra, you will often end up wearing your own clothing. When you book the job, make sure you have wardrobe that fits what the directors are looking for. If you wear the wrong costume, that could hold up production, and you won’t be hired again.
Bring something to do.
There is a lot of downtime on set, especially for an extra. You should expect to spend a minimum of twelve hours on set, and it’s possible you won’t be working for very much of that. Bring a camp chair and a book and enjoy getting paid to hang around.
See our article about the best books for actors.
Be social with the right people.
The best people to befriend during downtime would be directors or PAs. They’re the ones who’ll be working on more projects in the future, and if you become friends, they could open new doors for you. On the other hand, the wrong people to socialize with are the stars of the show. As cool as it would be to become buddies with Scarlett Johansson, she definitely has other things to worry about.
Never take photos.
If you’re working on an exciting project, it might be tempting to sneak a few selfies and post them to Instagram. Absolutely do not do this. It’s not uncommon for extras to be fired or even sued for leaking information about the show’s plot online.
Stay in the background.
If extras are drawing too much attention to themselves in the background, the director won’t be able to use that shot. Stay unobtrusive and simply do what you’re asked to do.
Moderate on craft services.
Craft services are there for everybody; of course you are allowed to eat it. However, it won’t make the crew too happy if you take more than your share or you load your pockets at the end of the day. Be respectful of how many hungry people are on set.
It’s not uncommon for extras to be fired or even sued for leaking information about the show’s plot online.
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