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Become a Movie Extra in Six Easy Steps

So you want to become a movie extra, huh? Smart idea. There are plenty of good reasons to be an extra for commercials, TV, and film. Let's talk about that. Then I'll tell you how to get extra work in five simple steps.

Why Become a Movie Extra?

  • There's no audition.
    Don't worry, they won't ask you to sing or dance, or even read a script. That's because being an extra doesn't require too much skill. What do the people in the background do? Stand there, pretend to talk, and act natural. Which brings me to my next point...

  • Become a Movie Extra
  • You don't need to be an actor.
    You don't even need professional headshots. Some people do background work as a hobby. I've even been on set with a few Wall Street brokers who moonlight as movie extras! Why? "It's fun!" is a typical response. "I always dreamed of being a in the movies." is another.

  • Great for networking.
    If you are starting an acting career, movie sets are a great place to sniff around for information. Why? Because you're there all day, in close quarters with other job hungry actors, just standing around and talking. So keep your ears open.

  • Rub elbows with famous people.
    Literally. For example, my roommate once spent the afternoon standing next to Hugh Jackman!

  • Go to the movies and watch yourself.
    Imagine going to see a movie and there you are on the silver screen, larger than life! Won't that impress your friends....

  • You get paid!
    The average for a day of shooting is $180 USD. Not bad for day's work...


Six Steps to Become a Movie Extra

  1. 1. Find an agency or two.
    Central Casting is one of the oldest and most popular agencies. Unfortunately, they only handle the New York and Los Angeles markets.

    But film shoots happen everywhere. Google for casting agencies in philadelphia, or casting agencies in san francisco. Visit their websites and do your research. Find out which movies they worked on.

    Usually, one afternoon a month, agencies hold open casting calls for new actors. Find out where and when, and show up with a smile.

  2. 2. Register.
    There's paperwork to fill out: The application, the tax forms, the proof of citizenship, blah, blah, blah... Oh, and they'll take your Polaroid too.

    Then they'll ask you for the money. So here's the deal: Never pay more than $30 to register with a casting agency. If they're asking for more than that, there's something amiss.

  3. 3. Wait for the phone to ring.
    Chances are, they'll be anxious to try you out right away. Expect a phone call within a few days. Get the details: When and where to show up, what to wear, how much they're paying, etc.

  4. 4. Do the shoot.
    This is the fun part. Show up on time, stand around, and look pretty. Heck, they might even feed you lunch.

  5. 5. Get paid.
    This is the other fun part. The check is in the mail!

  6. 6. Rinse and repeat.
    If you were reliable, friendly, and professional, your agency will use you more frequently. Now you're a real life movie extra!


If you become a movie extra, it can be fun and profitable. Who knows, maybe you'll get discovered and become a movie star...

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