Movie Extra Jobs

What do Brad Pitt, Clint Eastwood, Keanu Reeves, and Megan Fox have in common? They all worked as movie extras before they began their very successful Hollywood careers. You can be a movie extra too – who knows where it might take you…

Movie extras are people that fill in the background in film, television, advertisements, stage, and music videos. Do you know the difference between a movie extra and an actor? One word. Movie extras don’t speak, sing, or dance. As soon as an extra speaks a word, he becomes an actor. And if you want to talk, but really aren’t an actor, then consider working in reality TV – a topic we cover on JobMonkey.

Movie extras fill all sorts of roles. You may sit in the stands of a coliseum, sip coffee at a bar, or skip down the sidewalk. Whatever you do, take advantage of it because this is your chance to be on the big screen and see how the filming process works. It’s a good opportunity to be seen, learn the industry, and make a bit of money.

Anybody can be a movie extra, but not many people do it. Being chosen to be an extra is all about how you look. You are chosen based on the criteria of the film. For example a Viking war epic will need different looking extras than a comedy about high school dropouts.

If you want to get a gig as a movie extra, it’s not hard. Register yourself with a casting company, join a talent database, make a casting sheet of your dimensions, availability, and skills, check websites and newspapers, and be willing to show up to see if you have the look. Most extra jobs are in Hollywood, but films and TV shows are filmed all over the country. Wherever filming is taking place, extras are needed.

On the job site, assistant directors and extra captains boss you around. You need to be ready and willing to do anything for the camera. Bring an Ipod or a book because you may be sitting around all day for one shot. Then you’ll do the same thing over and over again – eat a burrito, drink a Coke, mingle with friends, or jump rope as many times as it takes to get the perfect shot.

Movie extras need to have a positive attitude, identification, and a flexible schedule. A movie extra role can last multiple days, for 12 hours a day, and can be located just about anywhere – a Hollywood movie set, a mid-ocean cruise ship, or Yankee Stadium. You can make between $7 per hour or up to $150 or more per day for standing around, watching, and doing simple things. Pay all depends on the film’s budget, but no matter what your wage, you can plan on getting a good lunch out of the deal.

Many extras make more money by joining a union like the Screen Actor’s Guild or the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, but beware these unions are incredibly hard to join. You also may do better if you have special skills, looks, or live at a specific location.

Being a movie extra is awesome because it can be a great stepping-stone to an acting career. Don’t plan on being an extra as a career, but it sure is a unique experience. It gives you the chance to network, learn the ropes, and possibly be spotted as the next big thing in Hollywood. Even if you don’t become an overnight success, a job as a movie extra is fun and gets you an easy paycheck.

Quick Facts About Movie Extras

Job Title: Movie Extra or Background Actor
Office: On film, television, or movie set
Description: Background actor who does not speak
Certifications/Education: No formal education required.
Necessary Skills: Depends on the production
Potential Employers: Film, television, movies, stage, musical, opera, ballet, music videos
Pay: $7 per hour or up to $150 per day, depends on film budget and union status

Helpful Links:
Screen Actor’s Guild
American Federation of Television and Radio Artists
Movie Extras Info
Casting Society of America
Cast Extras

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