For a richer life

Make money being a film or TV extra

Make money being a film or TV extra Frankie Roberto/Flickr

You can make money being a film extra or TV extra if you have time to spare during the week and live in or near a major city. Doing walk-on work can be a great way to make easy money and meet celebs at the same time. It used to be a closed business, but nowadays you don’t need to be a union member to be a an extra and there are many agencies to choose from.

Film and TV extras exist to make productions look realistic, giving a setting behind the main actor’s dialogue. Parts for extras include: passengers at the train station, revellers at a concert and customers in a café. You don’t need any acting experience at all, but you do need to be punctual, reliable and able to take direction. The length of an extra’s employment on a production depends on the needs of the director and the scenes being filmed.

How do you get work as a film extra?

Step 1: Research

Contact your local film commission. They usually have an idea on what major projects are coming up and where extras will be needed.extras Look in the phone book or search the internet for local casting offices, and ask them how you can sign up to be an extra. Note the results of a net search of your nearest major city with the words “casting office” and “extra”.

You can look in the local papers for information about independent films being done in your area, and watch out for film festivals to find out who the local contributors are. You can also try the local university’s film department. Student filmmakers are always looking for stand-ins.

Extras agencies work like temping agencies, you can join as many as you like. Find a list of agencies for the UK at UKScreen. ScreenBase lists all the films in production, and sometimes in pre-production. You can use these to help prompt your agent to try for a particular film.

Step 2: Get your face out there

Make sure you send whoever you contact – the commission, agencies, local councils etc – a headshot and full body shot with your resume so they will have your information on file.

You can have photos taken with a digital camera that can be blown up to 8 x 10, or you can spend a bit of money to have some professional shots taken.

Getting picked as an extra does depend on how you look, and most of the time they just want normal everyday people. You can look a bit scruffy, overweight, or unusual and still have a good chance of being chosen.

It is also an idea to have a few different ‘looks’ taken in different styles of clothes. Have one photo where you look like a professional in a suit, and then a casual street look, and an elegant black tie style. But don’t digitally airbrush the photo – if they call, they want to hire you.

Step 3: General casting information

Casting agents and producers have different requirements, but it’s good to have the following details on hand when needed:

  • Your full name, address and contact numbers
  • Your date of birth and the age range you can convincingly play
  • Your union statusfilmset
  • The ethnicity you appear to be
  • Your availability
  • Your car details: make, year, condition, colour and any tickets
  • Height and weight
  • Measurements (in feet and measurements) – Women: Waist, Hips, Bust, Dress Size, Shoe, Hat, Glove size. Men: Waist, Inside leg, Neck, Shoe, Hat, Glove
  • Clothing you own: tuxedo, types of suits/uniforms/special wardrobe items, wigs
  • Unusual physical traits – body piercings, tattoos, scars
  • Will you work for example in water, or at night?
  • Special props you own – musical instruments, sports equipment, etc
  • Special abilities you have such as horse riding, singing , dancing etc.

And don’t forget your photos!

Step 4: Show your talents as a film extra

If you have certain talents you may be able to earn a little bit extra. Special ability background players are those required to perform skills showing sporting ability (being able to play tennis or golf), social dancing, rollerblading, skiing, singing or driving.

Stand-ins are used to substitute actors so the crew can focus shots and set lighting, but they’re not actually photographed.

Sometimes extras can be upgraded to day performers, who deliver a line of dialogue or are required to do more complex actions.

Step 5: Check with agencies and wait

Check and double check the agency you decide to go with, and the people you decide to build a repertoire with. There are many unscrupulous people out there. If they ask you for money straight away, move quickly to the door and keep running. Have a look at Clive Hurst’s page about dodgy agencies before signing up and, certainly, before handing any money over.extrastv

Ask the casting office for a list of shows they’ve worked on and cross reference that with the actual TV show credit; or contact the entertainment unions here. If the business looks dodgy, it probably is.

Once you find and sign up to the right agency, you need to be patient and wait. Calls can be rather sporadic, depending on the number of extras needed and whether filming is happening nearby.

Step 6: Being chosen as a film extra

Extras get very few details when called to take on a role from their agency, and full details are given the night before the actual shoot. They’re told what their part is, what time to arrive and where, as well as what to wear for their part.

Assistant Directors are usually in charge of extras, so make sure they know you’re there when you arrive. Listen to them carefully, even if they tell you to simply walk down a hallway. Extras should blend into the background and take their direction well.

Take a bag packed with things to keep you busy – a book, crossword puzzle, snacks to nibble on, even thermal underwear for when you’re working outside in the cold. There’s a lot of waiting around on set. Also try and network with some of the other background actors – a good tip or referral could lead to more work.

In most cases, especially on bigger film sets, you will have to sign a confidentiality clause. This means no photos, but even if there’s nothing to sign, ask permission. Don’t bother asking for autographs either, as actors are also there to do a job, and don’t need you hanging around like a bad smell.

Step 7: Earn and show off

Cash the cheque and invite all your friends over to watch you on TV.

Get new money-making secrets every week for free. Signup here now!

  • ONLY USED FOR OUR WEEKLY EMAIL

How much can you make as a walk-on?

The basic for films is £83.72 per day plus travel money. For overtime (payable after nine hours) you can expect £7.84 per half an hour. For doing an overnight (nine hours) you should get £104.64.locationfilming

For TV you can expect £90 for a ten-hour day if you’re in the background of a commercial and £200 for a proper walk-on part with words.

The BBC pays a minimum of £69.50 per day, ITV £66.55. Walk-on artists who don’t have to give individual characterisation in a role but may be needed to pretend to be someone specific or even speak a few words could earn around £100 a day.

Most of the time you’ll get free meals (and film food is usually very good!).

Within the United Kingdom actor’s union Equity, and the entertainer’s Broadcasting Entertainment Cinematograph and Theatre Union (BECTU), extras are protected and guaranteed the same working conditions as actors with speaking roles.

Non-union extras are paid at a lower rate, but on productions outside of union jurisdiction, payment is at the discretion of producers. You can find out more rates from the Casting Collective website.

Getting started as a TV extra

If you fancy being a film or TV extra contact these agencies now:
  • The Casting Collective, 020 8962 0099
  • Ray Knight Casting, 020 7722 1551
  • 2020 Casting, 020 8746 2020
Unions:
  • Equity
  • BECTU
Resources:
  • You Can Be A Movie Extra, by Rob Martin
  • The Truth About Being an Extra, by Jo Kelly

Don’t fancy being in front of the camera? See our article on using your home as a film set for more ways to make money from TV and film.

12 Responses to “Make money being a film or TV extra”

  1. niki says:

    If you like music and have some extra time and want to earn something from home, I’ll recommend Slicethepie

    slicethepie.com

    its a scout website that allows you to listen to different styles of music and submit reviews.

    You don’t have to be a music expert, they are looking for opinions of regular music listeners.

    It’s
    not a GET RITCH scheme, it’s just something to do if you enjoy music
    and earn some extra cash. On the other hand, you’ll help the artists to
    get valuable reviews.

  2. Robert Scott says:

    You can become an extra at any age. I just completed my first feature film as an extra, the film is due out early next year.
    Unfortunately a lot of the jobs advertised are unpaid due to either being made by universities or are low budget films.
    I got my role from castingnow.co.uk , I have been short listed for a dozen other projects on starnow.co.uk.

  3. FURQAN says:

    Hi sir I like this
    site very much and I really appreciat to you for your brelliant job.
    Hi sir I like this
    site very much and I really appreciat to you for your brelliant job.

  4. Claude Hanson says:

    One of my friends was fortunate enough to be cast as an extra for Bourne Legacy, and it was just her first time to try her luck. You can also try getting cast in music videos.

  5. darius says:

    are those phone nombers that in this site are help full?also if i phone them can they help me?thank you

  6. darius says:

    hello i have tryed so many of these agencyes and paid them monthly and i never get any things i have played in bbc and persian chanel as well but havent got any things what iam i doing wrong?please help me thank you

  7. Bushra says:

    I want to use my voice in TV or Film or for documentaries .I think I have got a soft and professional kind of voice which may be required for back ground of programmes.Can you help me how can it be possible.Please let me know thanks a lot.

  8. Essie Vasquez says:

    Brilliant blog. You have gained a recent fan. Please maintain the nice posts and I look forward to more of your amusing writings.

  9. Joe Rispoli says:

    Make sue you don’t hand any money over, no matter what they say not even for photos. There are lots of cons out there. Other useful links are
    National Association of Supporting Artistes Agents
    http://www.nasaa.org.uk/site/home/

    http://www.anactor.net/

  10. nicholas mariconi says:

    My uncle is Paul Teutul from American Choppers and I have been on his show couple times before. I loved the feeling of being part of a show its an exciting to see yourself on tv . I would love to be part of any kind of tv or movie sceen.

  11. john says:

    how old do yo have to be

Leave a Reply