Retired? Why Not Become a Movie Extra?

A few years ago I found myself in the movie world. My picture was up on a website for work  and I had been approached by someone filming a documentary.  He said I looked a lot like the person they were trying to cast for, and would I consider coming out for 2 days and filming with their crew. So I said yes I would go and out try! You can watch the documentary here: Documentary. Filming a documentary turned out to be a fun and fairly easy experience .  It’s not really considered acting though,  as you don’t have specific lines. Usually the real characters that were involved typically narrate the story anyway.  But I had a lot of fun and so I thought maybe I should learn a little more about this movie industry.  The first thing I did was search for background or extra casting agents in my city.  They typically have a website that you simply send in a headshot(kids don’t need a professional one) and an application.  Its that easy and you are usually contacted when the movies come to town!   I also found Facebook groups for our city that extra casting directors would post when they needed background or extras for any movie or show coming up.

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So now you have been booked for a day on set, what happens!  The casting agent will typically send you wardrobe notes and hair and makeup.  So if you are filming a fall scene, you would bring solid colors and stay away from bold prints or black and white.
Hair and makeup I always do as if I was going out on a normal day.  The biggest mistake that I made in the beginning, was bringing way to many clothes and accessories!   I would bring a suitcase!  Now I bring 3 outfits, usually one skirt or pants that can have two totally different tops that change the look and one other outfit such as a dress or a nice jacket for a guy.  Make it simple, solid colors and no patterns.   Then go and enjoy the day!  You will be told where and when to report to set, there is always a big sign that says either background holding or extras holding.  You go inside there and report to someone sitting there usually with a microphone in his/her ear.  They will cross your name off the list and then someone will help you pick an outfit that you brought for the first scene.  You will then be sent off to hair and makeup to fix or change anything and you are ready for set.    When you get to the “hot set” where the actors are, its very important to keep quiet and realize that you are in their working space.   Be respectful do you job (walking across the room) and you will have a blast!  You get a hot cooked meal, meet new friends, and get paid!

The picture above is actually me when I played stand in for Elizabeth Mitchell on a Hallmark Movie!

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