Behind The Scenes: How Movie Extras Make a Movie Realistic

Behind The Scenes: How Movie Extras Make a Movie Realistic

Marie Skillern| February 11, 2015

Extras are actors who are hired to play a role and become part of the film or TV show. Extras complete the scenes and make them appear natural and most of all, realistic.

Although they may seem to look ordinary people walking in the streets in the background, they still need to act and play their role. These people are known as ‘extras’. Think about creating a crowded scene with the lead star caught in the middle. This is where background acting jobs come in.

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What are movie extras?

Ever wonder what Megan Fox, Brad Pitt, and Clint Eastwood have in common? These famous actors all started out as extras. Surprisingly, all their hard work paid off and brought them to where they are in the industry.

Not that movie acting requires you to become an extra in a movie. Rather, success in the entertainment industry starts from small and humble beginnings. Perhaps, you can begin by becoming a movie extra.

Do you know where Megan Fox began her career as an extra? She was a background dancer from the movie, ‘Bad Boys 2’. It’s safe to say, you didn’t recognize her then.

How about Brad Pitt? He appeared as an extra in the movie, ‘Less than Zero’, a film released in 1987. You probably didn’t notice him in that movie. Now, women just can’t get enough of him.

And Clint Eastwood? Yes, he sure has started his career as an extra. As a matter of fact, he joined an extra talent agency back in the 1950’s. Obviously, he has played several roles as a background actor prior to his lead roles in the industry.

Basically, background acting jobs add color to the movie. You can’t imagine the film or show without them. It would look like you’re in the middle of nowhere without anything and anyone in it.

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They fill the background in the TV show, advertisement, music video, stage, or a film. There’s a fine line between an actor and an extra. Extras don’t have any lines. Once they begin talking or singing in the movie, that’s the time they become actors.

A Chance to Be in the Big Screen

Consider it hitting two birds with one stone when you land a career as an extra. You can take advantage of meeting your favorite star, witness the filming process, and most of all, earn a bit of income. Remember, not everyone is given the opportunity to be an extra and neither everybody has the skill to be one. Extra jobs for movies are distinctively provided for you.

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3 Reasons People Work as movie extras

Despite the fact that this job is not as glamorous as you think it would be, there are people who are in their right mind and still choose to work as an extra.

Reason # 1: Create a Network of People

When you are aspiring to be successful in this kind of industry, taking these extra jobs for movies can be vital. Working as a background actor allows you to pave way to meet important people in the industry. Perhaps, you can find success as you become one of the Hollywood movie extras.

Reason # 2: Dissect the Inner Work of a TV show, Film, or an Advertisement

The moment you step into the movie set, you will soon realize why Hollywood is synonymous to a ‘factory’. Looking at the entire set, everything is done on manual labor. From adjusting the lights and props, applying makeup to the stars, to filling in the background (extras come in), the entire movie set seems like there is something churning to produce the best production.

Reason # 3: A World Beyond a Background Actor

Although it may not happen all the time, working as an extra will lead you to the spot beyond the world of an extra. There are times where agents, writers, directors, and producers will discover your potential in becoming an actor. In short, doors and even windows of opportunities in the industry will be opened for you unexpectedly.

Going Through the Process of Becoming an Extra

The reasons and the benefits of working as an extra are tremendously unimaginable.

Imagine walking alone or with your friends down the Melrose Avenue. Suddenly, somebody would come up and ask you whether or not you want to be one of the Hollywood movie extras. There are only two answers to this question – yes or no.

Most people would definitely say ‘yes’ to this opportunity. Meanwhile, there are those who still go through the process of becoming one.

Movie Extras
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How to Become an Extra in a Movie?

If you think it’s a tough process to go through, think again. All you need is to follow these simple steps and you will be in the movie set in no time.

Step 1: Check out available casting calls for movie extras.

When it comes to looking for the kind of job you have been dreaming, the internet realm can be a huge place to dive into. There is a complete list of movie casting auditions including movie extras online. All you need is to be keen where to look for the job you will be taking.

Step 2: Register

As soon as you find a good and reputable agency, review the application form and completely fill it in with the right information. At this point, they might ask for your headshot, make sure you have the right and best one.

Step 3: Wait for the Callback

Unless an agent saw you and asked you personally to become an extra, then there wouldn’t be a problem to become one. The moment you submit your registration form, usually, you will have to wait for a callback. Make sure to get the details on how to go about with the job.

Step 4: Fun in the Shoot

The process of getting these movie extra jobs in Atlanta and in some parts of the country can be exciting. All you have to do is to show up and be on time. Not to mention, be prepared for a job opportunity in the entertainment industry.

Step 5: Get Paid

Movie extras pay may vary. Movie extras are paid by the hour and sometimes, by the day. Moreover, it would depend on the film budget, not to mention, the union status.

Step 6: Be Friendly and Reliable

Even if your job or role is not the same as that with the lead stars in the movie or TV show, continue to be professional, friendly, and reliable not just to the directors, producers, or agents, but to the other extras as well. Additionally, no matter the number of movie extras needed in Los Angeles and in some areas across the country, your presence is still crucial.

Filling the Role

Most of the time, extras appear only for a short period. Meanwhile, there are times when you need to be there longer than you expect. It varies. Filling the role is the main job of a movie extra. Think about creating a ‘human’ scenery.

Background actors help the production or the entire movie more realistic. Say when the scene needs to have people sipping coffee in the shop other than the lead stars, extras fill in the role.

What does it take to become a Movie Extra?

There is no specific quality you need to obtain when you want to become an extra. So long as you are positive about the job, willing, and most of all, nice to everyone, complete the package.

On the other hand, there are times when directors, producers, or agents would ask you to become a photo double. Noelle Hannibal, an extra who revealed her job to claims she once tried becoming a photo double.

Oftentimes, when actors refuse to show some parts of their bodies, they ask photo doubles. Hannibal recalls the picture from the movie, ‘Pretty Woman’ by Julia Roberts. Those were not her legs, rather the Photo Double’s.

During the making of the movie or TV show, extras appear and perform in the scene. Normally, their roles require them to be as they are. Their primary roles include, chatting, shopping, and even mowing the lawn.

Depending on the scene, just as actors, they follow the director’s instructions. Say if the scene requires having a number of zombies flocking at a location. Extras must know how to handle the situation and the scene to make the film, television show, advertisement naturally realistic.

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The Bottom Line

No matter your role in the film, show on TV, or advertisement, you have to keep in mind that it is vital to have passion in whatever you are doing. Whether or not you become a movie extra, everyone plays an important role in creating a production.

You may think this job isn’t as cool as an actor’s job is, think again. Being an extra in movies is an awesome job. Moreover, this is a great stepping stone to your acting career (if you want to create a future job in the industry).

No matter how great this job will be, it is wise to plan a career after becoming an extra. Success doesn’t end here. Rather, this is only a unique experience towards reaching your dream.

There will always be this next ‘big’ thing in the entertainment industry. Remember that achieving your goals doesn’t happen overnight. Yes, this kind of job may be fun and a good source to pay for your rent and groceries, but this job has greatly opened opportunities in this industry.

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