Ever wanted to be in films? Well, if your dream is to star in a Hollywood blockbuster, ride into the sunset with George Clooney or skydive off a tall building with Tom Cruise, we’re probably not going to be able to help, if we’re honest. However, if you’d be happy to settle for something a little more attainable, such as ‘third soldier from the left’ or ‘drinker in pub’, then you could have a promising career as a film extra.
You’ll need your own transport and plenty of time and flexibility, as you’ll often be asked to work at short notice. You’ll also need to be reliable and good at getting up early! You won’t need any acting ability, though – extra roles are normally non-speaking. In addition to receiving a daily fee, you’ll also have the excitement of pointing yourself out at the cinema. If that sounds like your sort of thing, here’s how to get started.
Sign up with an agent
It’s not just A-listers who need their own agent! Signing up with an agency, particularly one specialising in extra roles, is the easiest place to find work. You don’t have to choose an agency that’s local to you, either, as most film companies now use locations across the UK. Agencies such as StarNow, Casting Collective and Extra People will advertise current opportunities so you can keep an eye on what’s available. Some agencies charge a one-off or annual fee to register, and some are free to join but charge a higher commission, so make sure you read the terms and conditions before signing up.
Once you’ve landed one role, take some time chatting to other extras and to the film crew as this is the best way to get your next job directly through the industry, saving you commission fees.
Keep your eyes open
It’s well worth keeping your eyes peeled on social media, newspapers and noticeboards in your area, as if somewhere local to you is being used as a film location, there’ll often be a ‘shout out’ for people to play extras.
How much can you earn?
Rates vary from around £80 a day to £150 a day. A day could be anything up to ten or even twelve hours, and you could be required to make an early start, particularly for things like period dramas where there are lots of make up and costume adjustments involved. If you have a special skill, such as horse riding, dancing, experience handling animals or playing a particular sport, you may be paid a premium. Sometimes, production companies want a particular ‘look’, so you could also be in line for more money if you fit the brief. You could also earn more for working overtime or working overnight. You might be offered your travel expenses and food and you might not, so you’ll have to decide whether a particular job is worth it to you. Do be aware that if you go through an agency, they’ll normally take a commission fee as well.
What are the advantages?
Film work can be exciting, sociable and fun – after all, where else could you have the chance to take on an army of Cavaliers or be paid to walk down the street? You only have to work when it suits you, so you can fit it around other commitments. You’ll also have the thrill of seeing yourself in the finished film.
And the disadvantages?
The money isn’t fantastic (although it mounts up if you work for several days at once), and you might be asked to work long hours at short notice, which isn’t ideal for everyone. There’s also a lot of hanging around between the exciting bits, so not great if you get bored easily – remember to pack plenty of reading material just in case.
And now – lights, camera…action!
Image credit: Pixabay