How being a film extra can built up your acting resume
If you live in a city where there is an opportunity to work as an extra in films or video productions, you can acquire some real savvy about the process of making films. You can also make money while doing it. The experience may inform your social skills on the set, but it won’t necessarily assist your skills as an actor. But then again, if you have the opportunity to watch talented pros do their thing, you may indeed pick up some important clues.
If the film industry doesn’t often operate in your community, a nearby college or university may have a program that includes video production in their study programs. They are always looking for extras to help them out. In fact, that may be a good place to learn about extra work, as the rules may be a little more relaxed on the set. You’ll have more freedom to get close to the principal photography than you would on a big Hollywood stage. This is a great opportunity to experience the combined energy of the actors and crew at work. You will become more and more comfortable with the scenario, and become more accountable to the needs of the director and producer.
Perhaps the best of both worlds would be to take acting classes, and make time to do extra work once in a while. However, that does require a lot of time away from the rest of your life. So then, unless acting is your ultimate goal, you can do extra work as a hobby. Many retired people do. I’ve been on sets where most of the extras were retired utility workers and retired police officers. When retired firemen and police officers do extra work, they bring their former careers along to add expertise to their work in a film. Casting directors tend to look for things like that.
When you register with an agency to do work as an extra, be sure and tell them about all your hobbies and skills. These may be extremely helpful in getting you work. The casting director may suddenly need to find another person to fill in a speaking role, or someone to drive a vehicle due to a scene change. There are occasional opportunities for an extra to be upgraded to a stand-in or to a speaking role, so you want your resume to reflect all of your talents.
There are social opportunities on a film set too. You will meet other people doing extra work with whom you share a passion for the film industry, and there is plenty of down time to get to know them. Even if there is not much chance to talk on the set, there may be at a lunch break.
Working as an extra in films, will build your experience and add to your resume, as well as your income. The bigger the film budget, the more likely it is you will get paid a higher salary for the day’s work.