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How do I Become a TV and Film Extra?

written by: Kristina Dems•edited by: Amy Carson•updated: 3/15/2011

How do I become a TV and film extra? Well it's not a difficult process, but it's not that easy either because there are a lot of other people looking for the same job.

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    Ever asked yourself “how do I become a TV and film extra?” but did not know how to answer it? Let us discuss the steps you can take to get a gig as a background artist in a movie or a TV show whether you want to do it regularly or when you just want some extra income.

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    Make Yourself Ready for Action

    Film Extra The best place to live in to get a job as an extra is in Los Angeles, California or New York City. These are the places where most film studios do their castings, but for films or TV shows shooting on location in different cities, they also provide job opportunities as well. If you want to get the widest access to background artist opportunities, you should move in the cities we mentioned or at least somewhere close to them. You can then look for casting calls for extras via flyers, web sites and trade journals. In these cities, classified ads for auditions are a regular sight in print and online.

    Get your paperwork and headshot ready for submission. There are extras casting services that you can sign up with that will make looking for an extras job much easier since they have a direct line of communication with casting directors. Most of them will require paperwork and headshots, so make sure that you have those always at the ready. Documents required could be your US passport, drivers' license, social security card or birth certificate. Any of these could be needed by the casting service or the casting director so make sure that you always have these documents handy.

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    Do Your Best Even in the Worst Situations

    Once you get hired as an extra, you will be required to do things over and over again. The typical work day for TV and film crews range from 10 to 12 hours. Your assigned work may be as simple as walking from one end of the shot to the other, but it can be pretty tiring if you have to do it all day. You should prepare your mind and body for this type of repetitive work, especially with the type of pay you will be getting. If you are just starting out, you will be working as a non member of the Screen Actors Guild (SAG), the union for actors. Non-members will get anywhere between nothing and the minimum wage. Do your work the best you can and you will someday get into the union and in turn, get a higher pay plus union benefits.

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    Build Relationships

    Relationships are the building blocks of the entertainment industry. Sometimes, your success depends on who you know and who you are friends with. As a background artist who is just starting their career, you should pay attention to the the assistant director or the casting director. This person has the power to help you get into the Screen Actors Guild and get more jobs as an extra. If you do your job well enough and if you establish a sincere friendship or professional relationship with the assistant director, you may soon find yourself a SAG member with a steady stream of work as an extra. If you have the talent, you may even get speaking parts.

    The answer to your “how do I become a TV and film extra?” question is simple. Be ready for the job, know where to look for a job, do your job well and establish genuine relationships.

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    References:

    http://www.insidehollywood.info/index.php?pg=movie-extra-tv-extra

    http://www.entertainmentcareers.net/acting/becoming_and_extra.asp

    http://www.findextrawork.co.uk/actingextrawork.php

    Photo Courtesy of Morguefile.com / Supplied by Doboix - http://www.morguefile.com/archive/display/663196