Acting Questions

The advantage of becoming an Extra


Dear Acting-school-stop,

First of all thank you for all the information you gave me. It is an amazing opportunity for any young actor who dreams big to find a website like this. I became aware of so many interesting facts and details that I had no idea before. My name is Archil and I am from republic of Georgia and currently studying in American University in Bulgaria. I have a dream and I am planning to make that dream into a goal, thus mission. I know that it would be very very hard for me to make money for living from being an actor, because I am a foreigner, however that motivates me even more, because I keep telling myself that I can do it and I will do it. What I wanted to ask is your opinion on starting as an extra. As I read, working as an extra will get me into knowing of what is the film industry and how it works. I know that Robert De Niro started as an extra as well. I won’t stick with it because I don’t see any progress other than getting acquainted with how everything works and of course I am not required to have any acting talent in order to be Extra. What I am planning is to search for Extra while doing auditions. After I get an audition and I am chosen for a role I will stop being extra and go onto the next step, closer to my dream, building my career. And one more question, is it possible to make money for living in NY while working as extra? Thank you.

Archil Gugberidze


Yes, working as an extra is a great way to understand the how things work on a film set, as well as the lingo and who’s who. After a while, you’ll be able to spot who’s the first AD, director, makeup artist, etc… as well as what it means when when you hear expressions like “last looks” (the hair and make-up artist get a last chance getting the actor picture ready), “background” (the action starts for extras), “roll sound” or “roll camera” and of course “action”! You’ll also notice how many angles (camera setups) each scene requires and how important it is for actions do repeat the timing of their actions in different setups. You may also learn about eyelines and other things film actors need to take into account beyond focusing on their character and the scene.

That being said, I wouldn’t recommend staying an extra for too long. First of all, you most shoots are 12 hours or longer and you won’t be able to audition. Second, people in the business could start seeing you as an extra, not really an actor. Not to mention it can drain your energy to be on set all day and never “act”. Yes, you can make money as an extra in NY (more if you are in SAG-AFTRA than if you’re not, and only if you are legally aloud to work with proper visa etc.), but I would only do it as long as you feel you’re learning something, than get another flexible job and focus on auditions and training.

Good luck!

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