The Hunger Games
Iron Man 3
The Hunger Games
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
Extras or ‘background actors’ are the people hired to fill a scene to make the atmosphere seem more realistic. These are the people you may see on screen as the students or teachers at a school, a crowd at a ballgame, folks walking around town, workers in an office, shoppers in a store, diners in a restaurant or those with cars driving or parking on the street. Extras are basically anyone you may see in a scene that is not speaking.
What does it take to be an Extra? No acting experience is needed. All you need is some free time and a good attitude!
What types are needed? ALL types of people are needed: small, large, light, dark, short, tall, male, female, old, young, character faces, beautiful faces, rough and tough types, normal average folks… All types, ages and ethnicities!
Are Extras Paid? The pay for extras may vary from show to show. Generally extras make about $60 -64/8. Some shows may pay less and others may pay more. Please understand this means $60 - $64 for the first 8 hours of work. Most shows guarantee you at least 8 hours of wages even if you work less. Many projects pay time and half after the 8 hours of work. Most people end up working as extras for the experience and not for the money. Although, with our long filming days, extras can end up making around a $100 a day if they are needed all day. You will typically have a good time, learn a tremendous amount about what goes into making a television show or film and make some new friends. On occasions “bumps” are given. These adjustments can be for the use of your car, for attending a fitting, bringing a requested large prop such as a bike or doing something out of the ordinary.
How are Extras Paid? At the end of your filming day your pay voucher (which will be fiilled out upon arrival) will be turned into an Assistant Director (AD) or a Production Assistant (PA). Please make sure you double check that your voucher is correct when you check out. You will be given a copy of the voucher that should be kept in a safe place until your payment is received. If there is ever an issue with your pay, the payroll company phone number should be listed on your copy. The copy will also serve as proof of your employment. The Casting Company does not handle your pay. An independent payroll company is typically hired by production to handle extras payroll. Once your voucher has been processed and received, it may take 4 -5 weeks for you to receive your check. On occasion you will receive your check sooner, but it could possibly take longer.
How long are Extras needed on filming day? This will vary depending on the scene you have been selected for. Anyone committing for a day or night of filming should be 100% available. You should be available to arrive as early as needed and stay as late or long as needed. You should be aware our filming days are long, typically 12 -14 hours. Yes, we have filmed even longer days than that! On some occasion extras are only needed for one or two scenes and then will be released once they have completed their scenes and production will continue on with their filming day.
Below you will find information needed to be cast as an extra, how to conduct yourself on set, and some helpful rules of thumb.
Pictures: You should have photos of yourself ready to send to casting directors. It doesn’t need to be professional. In fact, a simple photograph taken of you by a friend or family member is generally best. These photos can even be taken with a cell phone. Avoid wearing hats and sunglasses in these photos. The goal is a clear and current photo that honestly represents you.
Have more than one photo. Take at least two photos. The first photo should be a close-up of your face and shoulders (headshot). The second photo should be a full-length shot of your entire body.
Keep photos current. Photos should be updated if you cut or dye your hair, if you gain or lose weight, if you have shaved or recently grown facial hair, if you got braces or had them removed or if your photo is older than 6 months old. All of these are good examples for reasons to take new photos. Your goal is for casting directors to see exactly what you look like NOW.
The photos shouldn’t be too big or small. If you send a digital photo that is the size of a postage stamp, we can’t see what you look like! If you send a photo that is too big, we will be side scrolling and looking at only half your face or ear! Please double check your photo in the message before sending it.
MEASUREMENTS: Have your basic measurements ready.
MEN: Height, Weight, Jacket Size (42R is an example), Dress Shirt size (neck and sleeve), Casual Shirt or T-shirt size, Pant size (waist and inseam), Shoe size. You can also include your Hat size, if you know it. If you are unsure of your sizes there are a few stores that can measure you.
LADIES: Height, Weight, Jacket/Coat size, Shirt Size, Pant Size, Dress Size, Shoe size. You should also include your measurements (Chest, Waist and Hips).
APPLYING TO BE AN EXTRA
Information on how to apply will always be listed on our website and casting Facebook page. To be considered as an extra, you will need to email your photos, measurements and any additional requested information. An email address for submissions will be listed for each show we are working on so make sure to check our site and Facebook regularly, as casting for new projects can begin at any time.
HOW TO CONDUCT YOURSELF ON SET
BE AWARE there could be 20 or hundreds of people working simultaneously on a feature film or television set. It may seem like too many are just standing around, but each has a specific job to perform at a specific time, all with one goal in mind: make the movie as efficiently as possible. The following will help you avoid film set faux pas, and be ready to do your own job.
ALWAYS REMEMBER THIS IS A JOB. It is fun to be on set, but it is still a job that demands a professional atmosphere. Exhibiting a professional attitude at all times will get you hired again and again.
BRING ALL ITEMS REQUESTED in your information email. This may include all ID’s needed and required for your pay voucher and/or clothes requested by the wardrobe department to name a few.
LISTEN to the Assistant Directors. The Assistant Directors (the AD Dept) are responsible for making sure everything on set happens in a timely manner. Whether it’s one of the ADs, a Production Assistant (a PA) or an Extras Wrangler, someone will be on set guiding you from place to place, and giving you cues. Listen and follow their directions.
BE PREPARED to hurry up and wait. As soon as you show up, you’ll be checked in, taken to or approved by Wardrobe, rushed to be checked by make-up and hair, then you may be taken quickly to set or may find yourself sitting around and waitting for 2 hours. Yes, when such happens it seems like madness. Keep in mind: waiting is a big part of the job, too. It is always good to bring items such as a newspaper, magazine or book to help ease the down time.
DO NOT DISTURB the principle actors. Of course it’s exciting to be standing right next to big Hollywood stars, but if they are on set, they are at work. As a general rule, don’t speak to them unless they speak with you first. They really are just people, and some will be nice and say hello whereas others will be very quiet and avoid speaking to anyone. Just remember that you both have the same professional goal: make the movie as efficiently as possible.
ON TIME IS LATE. ALWAYS show up early! In film, “early” is on time, “on time” is late, and “late” sometimes means you are in trouble.
AVOID WANDERING on set. Usually there will be a designated area for you to sit and wait called Extras Holding. That is where you should stay unless told otherwise. Yes, there could be long periods of waiting, but when the time comes you need to be ready and they must be able to find you. If you must leave the designated area, whether it’s going to your car or going to the bathroom, tell the extras wrangler or PA.
DO NOT LEAVE the set. Once you arrive on set and check in, you cannot leave before an Assistant Director releases you. If you do, the film does not have to pay you. When you check out with an AD, he/she will give you a copy of the signed voucher that will be your evidence of work if you are paid incorrectly.
BE SAFE! Sometimes filming occurs in less than ideal conditions: in the summer heat, in the freezing cold, near busy streets at night. Be aware of the temperatures and your surroundings. Always make safe choices! Even if you feel like you are inconveniencing the film, SAFETY FIRST. Every film set will have a medic on site. If you or someone is feeling ill, ask a PA to radio for the set medic. If someone is already hurt, yell “MEDIC and HELP!”
DON'T LOOK AT THE CAMERA. The only exception to this rule is if the director tells you to do so.
NO VISITORS. No friends or family on set and don't bring anyone along with you unless they are also confirmed as an extra that day. This is a job. If you have children you will need to find a sitter. The only exception is when a minor is cast: in this case, only one parent or guardian may accompany them.
Here are common phrases you will hear on set while working as an extra. It is important to know these terms because it will not only help production run smoother, but you will come appear professional and most likely hired again!
“Background action!” This is your cue to begin walking, eating, mingling with another or doing whatever activity you’ve been directed to do.
“Cut!” This is everyone’s cue to stop. Sometimes it isn’t always clearly said, so make sure cut has been called before you break character by stopping your assigned activity.
“Back to one.” This means you are to return to your original position or “one.”
“Quiet on the set!” or “Quiet all around!” Means exactly what it says. Be as quiet as possible!
“Watch your back” Nice way of saying, “You are in the way and we need to get by!” On every shoot crew will be moving equipment or hurrying to get an item needed onto set. Please pay attention and make sure you are not in the way.
GENERAL ADVICE AND RULES OF THUMB
BE PREPARED for long days. Be prepared to work 10-14 hour days.
You are booked for the entire day. Clear your whole day for work. Even if Casting tells you it’s only going to be a few hours, you are booked for the entire day. Casting relies on production for schedule details and those details can change at anytime, even while you are on set filming. Remember, you are always booked for the entire day.
PARK IN THE RIGHT PLACE. Make sure you are parking in the designated area for Extras. Parking information will be included in your information email. Typically shows will post small signs with arrows directing you where to park.
EAT before you show up. Sometimes snacks or a meal may be served upon arrival, but productions are only required to provide you with food about every six hours. (water should always be available). There are also days when everyone is not needed at the start of a filming day. Some extras may be called in after production has eaten lunch. Filming hours may also be different than normal meaning, if working nights, lunch could be at midnight.
BRING SNACKS AND MEDICATIONS. Again, there may or may not be food available to you on set, so bring a snack, especially if you are diabetic or are similarly affected.
Bring any medicines you may need. Make sure you have any prescriptions that you are required to take during a day. It also never hurts to have something for a headache in your bag.
OTHER ITEMS TO BRING: something to do quietly while you wait, a book or magazine is great. A deck of cards can also be fun. We have seen some great and competitive card games happening in the holding area. Bring a laptop, Ipad or MP3 player at your own risk. Production is not responsible for any items stolen. Do not forget sunscreen if filming in the summer. Gloves, Hats, Coats and a blanket if filming in the winter, basically items you can use when not filming to stay warm. It is always a good idea for women to bring a pair of slippers, flats, uggs or any comfortable shoe to slip on while not filming. Shoes provided by Wardrobe, especially if period shoes, can be very uncomfortable for some. The same goes for men. Some extras like to bring a chair. We recommend bringing a chair that can be easily carried. Beach and tailgate chairs that fold up completely are a good example. Typically the Extras holding areas have chairs available. However, It never hurts to have such in your car just in case they do not.
Leave valuables at home. Understand that a secure area may not be available. Leave jewelry, electronics or other valuables at home or in your car. You may even need to take your wedding ring off for camera, so please leave all valuables in a safe place.
NO CAMERAS Personal cameras are strictly forbidden on set. A film’s producers have a right to protect the images that are being created during production. If you are seen with a camera, it will be confiscated and you could be asked to leave the set.
REMEMBER some days as an EXTRA you will film all day on set and others you may be waiting the majority of the day for your scene to begin filming. As long as you are prepared, both can be equally enjoyable experiences! Films and television shows wouldn't be complete without the background talent making each scene come to life. The extras not only help set the time and place but they add to the audiences overall experience of being drawn into the stories unfolding. Working as an extra can be a wonderful way to learn about the industry, meet new friends and make some amazing memories.
Hoping to see many of you on set …and on the big screen soon!