Aug 12 2013

Four Advantages Of Being A Movie Extra

Posted in Movie Extras
Advantages Of Becoming A Movie Extra

Becoming A Movie Extra

The term extras can be used interchangeably with background actors to refer to the people who fill scenery to give it a sense of reality. They are the crowds, passersby, people walking on the sidewalk, and suspicious onlookers, who add life to commercials, television shows and movies. These characters do not speak, and when they do, their voices remain indistinguishable among a multitude of voices.

Various reports indicate that extras are stigmatized during the course of their regular work. This stigma is a result of the assumptions of various directors who view extras as non-actors, whose work is to simply fill the background of a scene. It is a common belief in Hollywood that if a director identifies a person working as a background performer, then that director will only view that individual as an extra, and will never take them seriously or even consider hiring them as principal actors. However, doing extra work can actually be very beneficial for aspiring actors, and even serve as a platform for entry into major acting. The following are four ways in which an aspiring actor can benefit from being a movie extra.

1. Opportunity to gain experience and learn more about acting.  Being on a television set or film can be a great way to become at ease in that kind of environment, and gain basic knowledge of how a production piece is compiled on an actual professional working set. If you plan on acting in the future, it would be advantageous for you to gain knowledge of what is expected from actors at different times, like in a sound stage, or out on-location. Working as an extra allows you to develop your acting skills and at the same time, learn the basics of film-making. A significant amount of skill and comfort can be acquired by working as a background performer in multiple settings, like on a sitcom in front of a live audience, a feature film shoot on-location, a soap opera, or a TV commercial that normally shoots more than 50 takes per angle.

2. Opportunity for those with no education or experience to get representation.  The diversity of film environments implies that different movie extras are required to make the set look natural and different. As such, people of all races, ethnicities, shapes and sizes can work as movie extras. These opportunities are presented to everyone. Those with exceptional talent can be recognized by agents or agencies, and given the opportunity to sign up with a good agency for representation.

3. Flexible work hours with competitive pay. Background actors should be patient since they have long periods of waiting during film shoots, as the actors wait for their part to be ready for filming. This means that if you start your career as an extra, you will have plenty of free time to do a variety of other things like reading, browsing and texting, while getting paid. Extras who are members of a union, such as SAG or SFTRA, are usually paid according to the union’s standards, with provisions for special duties, costumes, and overtime. There is a base rate, or a fixed amount of payment for eight hours of work per day. The figure varies from state to state, but the base rate for an SAG movie extra member is usually between US $130 and $309 for eight hours. The wages for non-union extra workers can be more or less, with a minimum wage for the first eight hours, 1.5 times the minimum wage for 8-12 hours and double the minimum wage for an excess f 12 hours at the shooting sites.

4. It is easy and fun.  Extras work as human props. Their work is to make the film environment look natural, and often have few or no lines to memorize. No acting skills are required since they just stand, sit, or walk behind the key actors, and become part of the movie. They also indulge in the high quality food served at the set, and rub shoulders with celebrities and popular actors. For aspiring actors, this can be beneficial by learning to control your excitement when acting alongside your favorite Hollywood idol.

There are many movie stars who began their careers as extras including Matt Damon, Brad Pitt, Megan Fox, Sylvestre Stallone, Keanu Reeves, Shirley Temple, and Renee Sellweger, among others. So, if you are an aspiring actor, or just getting started in the film industry, performing as a movie extra may be more than just a part time source of money. It may be your first step towards becoming a celebrated movie star, and enjoying a successful career in Hollywood.

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