Tips for being an extra — II

Without a doubt, the most popular blog posting I have written is:
Tips for being an extra.

I would surmise that a lot of people are interested in being movie extras.

So, to expound on the thoughts:

Finding gigs:
Find all of the casting agencies in your area, and find out what you have to do to register with them. Some may have qualifications you have to make, and for some, you simply enter your info in a database.

Get professional quality headshots. For many producers, the headshot is the thing they will use to cast you.

Be honest in your representation of yourself and your abilities.

Scan your local entertainment news, and see what is going on in your area. Several of the jobs I’ve gotten were situations where they need a crowd to fill a large area, and they say “just show up”. Once you are there, they may present you with additional opportunities to work additional days. So, if you have a chance to go to a set, even if you are working for free, then go. That may turn into a paid gig.

One of our local casting directors has cattle call auditions, on occasion. When you go, you get registered into his database. Also, you meet other people who are in the biz. Networking is a great trend.

See if your local community theatre has a bulletin board, where acting opportunities are posted.

Look into taking acting classes. Learn what you can, and also use the opportunity to network.

Use the internet. Are there any acting groups or movingmaking groups on the internet specific to your geographic area? Casting calls will be posted there.

Now, as far as I’m concerned, no role is too small. I will take on a tiny role, even if I’m in the back of a room, and there’s no chance of being seen on camera…if it gets me into the production. As I said, once you’re there, you may be called in for other days.

I don’t want to say “Take any gig.” Only you can decide what’s worth it or not. I live in a state with a large geographic area. So, there may not be jobs within 50 miles of me, so am I willing to drive 100 miles? You can decide what’s right for you. And don’t compromise your personal safety. Don’t go off by yourself to an unknown production that no one has ever heard of. There are a lot of scams out there.

Once you’re there:
As I said in the previous blog post, my two biggest suggestions: stop and go to the bathroom before you get to the gig. And…eat a big meal beforehand. Lots of times, lunch won’t be served till 3 or 4 in the afternoon. And if I had a quarter for everytime I was on set and I had to listen to people bitch about being hungry??

Which brings me to my most recent suggestion while on set. DO NOT BITCH. Do not complain or moan or criticize. That is the mark of an amateur. It is unprofessional and will result in you not getting invited back, or cast for future jobs.

You can do a lot of sitting around (take a book or something quiet to do), but when it’s time to work, be ready. Be professional. Obey all instructions. Take instruction. As a director, when working with civilians, that’s what seems to surprise them the most–being told what to do. The director is the boss of a movie set. Oftentimes, the 1stAD (first assistant director) is the one running the set, and the voice you hear the most. They have a vision for what they want the project to be. As actors, it’s your job to obey. The producers are the ones paying the bills, so they get to make the production choices. So, in that instance, who wants to listen to complaints, complaints, complaints?

So, bottom line while on set. Be polite and behave.

Moviemaking is a fascinating process. There is so much to see and do. You can meet the most interesting people. Enjoy yourself!

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