Starting as an extra



I have read that one of the best things a new actor can do is be an extra in a movie. I was wondering if you could tell me how to do this and what website is most accredited for finding jobs.

Thank you!


If you've never acted in a film, it is a good idea to take a few jobs as an extra just to understand how movie sets work so when you do get a job, you are already familiar with the lingo and the special requirements of on-camera acting. That being said, after you've done a few jobs, I would move on and stay away from extra work if you can. First of all, you will often be called last minute for extra work and have to be on set for long hours, so you could miss important auditions or even real acting jobs. Second, you don't want to be viewed as an extra by directors and crew members on set. It's true that once in a while an extra will be "upgraded" and get a line in a movie, but you'll get much more work as a serious actor training, looking for an agent and going out on film and TV auditions.

Still if you want to work as an extra for a while, where to look for jobs will depend on where you are...

If you live in New York
There are a few casting directors in town that specialize in extras. Off the top of my head, I can think of five (Grant Wilfley Casting, Sylvia Fay Casting, Winsome Sinclair & Associates, Amerifilm Casting, Kee Casting) but there are a few more. I believe all are free but some require that you register. Just check each company's website for details. For those that don't have a registration process or hotline to call, just send your picture and resume with the mention "Extra Work" on the outside of the envelope, then follow up regularly with actor postcards stating your availability for extra work.

If you live in Los Angeles
You usually have to pay a monthly fee to a booking service in order to have access to extra work regularly. Extras Management and Cut Above Casting are some of the larger booking service companies.

If you live outside of the major entertainment centers, just look for extra casting calls on websites like Backstage - The Actor's Resource or Now Casting.

Hope this helps! Feel free to post comments on this page to share your experiences on set once you start working as an extra.

Update: We now have a special How to Be an Extra Series!

Comments for Starting as an extra

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by: Ms. Mae Ross

EXTRA work is a great way to get started in showbiz and to obtain the coveted actor's union Screen Actor's Guild card (SAG).
In San Francisco,I was dancing as an EXTRA in a TV Commercial for a soft drink. Soon after I moved to Los Angeles. I went to an audition for a National COCA-COLA commercial and the producer from the San Francisco soft drink spot was the producer. Needless to say he remembered me dancing in the S. F. spot and booked me as an actress/singer on the Coke spot. It turned out to be the famous National Christmas spot for Coke singing:
" I'd like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony, I'd like to buy the world a coke and keep it company."
Also in Los Angeles if you are booked 3 times and have 3 SAG voucher as a SAG EXTRA on any type of union film production, TV commercial, TV show, Movie etc. you can join Screen Actors Guild (SAG). SAG is the actors union and now you are considered in the elite group of working actors. Good luck out there.
Ms. Mae Ross

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