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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Make Sure You Take Care Of Your Health When On Set!


Last night I was on set for a show that is filming here in Winnipeg.  My call time was 1215 am, and I was cut at 5 am in the morning.  Let me tell you, it can be hard on your body and your health.  Here are my tips for staying healthy on set:

  1. Drink lots of water
  2. Bring some of your own healthy snacks
  3. Get out of the holding/trailer and go for a walk, just not too far so they can find you.
  4. Bring a book
  5. Bring your phone and headphones so you can tune out and listen to music or a podcast
  6. Bring several layers of clothing the temperature can change quickly in the time you are there.
  7. Use essential oils to invigorate you, or relax you as need be!
  8. Enjoy yourself!  Whether you are there for background or a role, it should be fun and not too stressful.  If you aren’t enjoying it don’t do it!  Its a choice you get to make for your life.  I personally love it, and love the craziness and constant change of the movie life!

If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to me!