Movie extra jobs and how to be a paid extra

Are you thinking of becoming a movie extra? Do you want to know how to become a TV or movie extra? Well, the good news is it’s pretty easy and no special skills or experience of any kind is required. All you need to be a movie extra are your looks, whatever they may be. You see, extras are needed of all shapes, sizes and looks. Whether you get the job simply depends on what the casting director is looking for and whether you fit the bill.

To actually get a job as a movie extra you need to live in an area that has a lot of production going on. There are many states that have films shooting all year long and there are others that have zero. If your goal is to be a movie extra yet you live in an area that has no production whatsoever, you may want to consider doing something else.

Extras are used as background for scenes that involve crowds. An example may be filling a stadium at a concert scene or a restaurant with patrons. Sometimes extras get some makeup and wardrobe, but usually, extras are asked to show up wearing certain clothes. If something very special is required then the casting director would post that information in the casting call.

Being an extra can be fun but definitely not a great way to become famous or make lots of money. To apply to be an extra you will need to attend a casting call. To find out what movies are being shot in your area you can search your local paper or call your local film office. The film office can give you info on what is in production and where to go to apply.

Looking locally for information is your best bet since this is not something you will be travelling for. Also, keep in mind that most states do not have much production going on but the ones that do also have casting directors that specialize in extras. In Los Angeles a company called Central Casting supplies the majority of extras to L.A. productions.

If you live in a large enough city you can call the film commission and request a list of background casting directors. You will then need to contact your local extras company. In small towns there may not be any extras casting agents and you will need to stay on top of what is filming to find out who to talk to.

Beware of things you find online. We are drawn to finding our information online because of how easy it is, but doing so also opens you up to scammers. There are scams that pretend to be legitimate companies casting extras. The way you normally spot them is in their promises. They hook people in with offers of fame and fortune.

Many people believe that extras for movies are cast nationwide. That is absolutely not true. Most extras on any film are locals. Movie extras are not high paying jobs, actually they are as low paying as one gets. Most extras will make minimum wage which ends up being between $80 to $100 for up to a 12 hour day. Movie extras normally only get 1 or 2 days of work on a film. You can see how travelling for a 1 day job that pays minimum wage may not be very economical. For that reason, most extras cast are locals that already live in the area. The only companies that advertise nationwide casting calls are usually scams that are trying to get as many people as they can caught in their net.

Extra casting scams:
There are con artists that pray on people looking to be famous. An extras casting scam is another type of acting or modeling scam where someone is convinced into handing over their hard earned money.

Usually, the way it works is that there is a real casting call for extras that goes out for a big budget production. You see these types of activities take off when popular films like the Twilight series is actually filming. When Twilight was filming, thousands were tricked into believing that for a few hundred bucks they could get a part in the film. Those people never got a part and lost their money.

Sometimes the scammers make up casting calls or they get a hold of the real casting call and change a few things about it.

A casting call that originally may have read “seeking native Americans 35 to 45 years old” gets changed to “all ages and any ethnicity”. Then they change the location, date and time. The original casting call may have been an open casting call on a certain day in New Zealand. The scammers remove any date as well as the city and make the call US / nationwide. See how that works? They took a local 3 hour event in New Zealand and turned it into a 4 month long nationwide star search that they can sell to the unsuspecting.

The victims are charged money to get access to what is usually fake contact info. The contact info is faked since the original casting call now happened long ago in a city far, far away. Once they get your credit card info, you can bet they will be charging all sorts of fees monthly until you cancel your card.

A popular version of this scam is charging a small fee of $1.95 for creating an online profile so you can submit to the fictitious casting. You are convinced that $1.95 is not much to lose and go for it, however a few days later the charges start racking up and this time they are not close to $1.95. The $1.95 is just a way to get you to give up your credit card info and once they have it, they will run with it.

There are other variations of the scam. They all promise easy work with great pay in your area or paid travel to other areas. What you should keep in mind is whether the gig is “Too good to be true”. If the “Movie extras needed” ad reads like a dream job, proceed with caution.

An extra job is not an acting job. Extras are filler on scenes that involve background crowds like ball games. You do not need headshots, comp cards, resumes, reels, etc. The only thing you need is a 4 x 6 snapshot and most casting directors do not want professional shots or headshots because they may not represent what you actually look like.

If you are asked for fees, to pay for comp cards, online profiles, classes, or anything else you should be skeptical about the offer.

5 thoughts on “Movie extra jobs and how to be a paid extra

  1. kamila

    yes, I want to be an extra on movies, travel and make money while I do what I like to do.

  2. Rania Chawiky

    Hi ,
    My name is Rania, I am not really a beginner but I love acting and its gonna be cool if I can get an extra role on a movie. I am in Philadelphia. Is there something in my area for movies? Please answer fast.

  3. dennis r. ganotise,jr.

    I am a complete beginner,when it comes to applying for a movie extra/background actor job. I want to start my acting career mainly in Hawaii first. Hopefully, when I have enough experience in the film industry, I would love to write, produce, direct and release my own films with special collaborations from some important and inspiring film actors and directors.

    1. Karissa Hillman

      My 11 year old grand daughter, She is ADHD and can sing songs word for word. She is beautiful but has no confidence in herself and things. No one loves or wants her. Been through 2 divorces with parents. She still is very little and could pass for an 8 year old. She would love to be just a figure in the picture. Does not want any pay but does want to meet Whoopi!


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