What is an ‘Extra’?
The role of a background ‘extra’ is a simple but very important one. Extras are the anonymous persons who give texture to a scene or background and help fill the shot, giving actors a realistic landscape to perform in. Extras can be the passersby in busy streets, the crowds in sport stadiums, even the evil Orc army in the Lord of the Rings!
Working as an extra can be a very unique and interesting experience. Extras get to see firsthand what goes on behind the scenes on a working film set while getting paid to do so! It is a great opportunity to meet new people as well as witnessing the stars, directors and film crew create TV and movie magic. As an extra it’s your job to help bring movies and TV sets to life!
Can anyone be an Extra?
Yes! No matter what your look, age, size or shape you could be cast in an upcoming movie, TV series or commercial. Just as the real world is full of a huge mix of different people, movie sets also need a variety of diverse people to create a sense of reality that is true to the story.
Usually, people who are involved in extra work also have a regular job or career, treating their work on set as a hobby, an additional source of income or a stepping stone to further their career in the entertainment industry. As Extra work is casual and often comes at very short notice, the more flexible their regular job, the easier it is to be available for extra work.
Is it hard work?
Generally not. Extras are treated well and respected by cast and crew. Meals are usually provided, however start times can be early and hours can be long. Extras sometimes spend long periods waiting between scenes – but it provides a great opportunity to catch up on the books and magazines you’ve been meaning to read.
What is a Double?
A ‘double’ is required to take the place of an actor in a scene or shot that the actor is unable to and will often be required to perform various actions. There are several types of doubles: body-doubles, hand-doubles, and stunt-doubles. A double will usually be cast to match the appearance and measurements of an actor as they need to look similar to them in an action scene, or a shot filmed from a distance.
What is a Stand-in?
Similar to a double, a ‘stand-in’ is cast to have a very similar look and appearance to a main actor. Stand-in’s literally ‘Stand in’ for an actor while the crew sets up lighting, props, and equipment, while an actor is filming another scene or rehearsing their lines in their trailer.
How much work can I expect to get as an Extra?
There are a small number of people who work continuously as an extra. The amount of work available for an extra depends heavily on where they live, what type of movies are being filmed nearby and the current activity in the Film & TV industry.
Can working as ‘extra’ lead to a career in the entertainment industry?
Many successful models, actors and industry professionals started out as extras to further their contacts and build up their resume. If you are new to the industry and want to see what it’s all about, working as an extra is a great place to start.
Are there any requirements to start working as an Extra?
Unless you have considerable contacts in the industry already, you will need an agent to put you forward for extra work. An agent also makes sure you are being paid correctly for the work you have performed on set, and can negotiate on your behalf if required.
Good Quality Photos
Whether choosing extras for the next big blockbuster or a low budget music video, a casting director needs to have a clear idea of what you currently look like. Casting Directors are very busy people and don’t have time to imagine what you’d look like if you’ve dyed your hair blonde, shaved your beard or lost 10kg, so it’s important that your photos are up-to-date and look like you. Casting photos are often shown to the actual Director so it pays to have great up-to-date photographs as you never know who might be seeing them or where it might lead.
A few good quality photos shot by a professional in a studio or uncluttered location are all you need to start being put forward for extra work. If you don’t have quality recent shots we can help to organise these for you.
Movies and TV shows can shoot any time of the day or night, at both studios and exterior locations not serviced by public transport. It is therefore extremely important that you have a current driver’s license and a reliable vehicle so you are able to turn up to set and castings on time.
For minors (under 16)
If you are under 16 years of age, you will need to be accompanied by a parent or nominated guardian at all times on set. You may also be required to fill out some additional paperwork.
Tax File Number
In order for your pay to be processed you will need a current Australian TFN (Tax File Number).