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Should I try to be a movie/TV extra?

SaddlerSaddler Registered User regular
edited July 2009 in Help / Advice Forum
I'm underemployed for remainder of the summer- I only work a couple of days a week- and I'm looking into some ways to make a few extra bucks. Since I live near LA, one obvious way to do that is to find work as an extra in a movie or TV show.

The only problem is that all the recruiting agencies that I've encountered want you to pay $100+ to be added to their lists. And there may be other expenses too, like headshots.

So basically I have questions for anybody who has worked as an extra before:

Is there any way I can be an extra without paying one of these recruiters? If not, which recruiters are reliable, and which ones are scams? I'm finding a lot of scams out there in my job search, so this is a concern.

Is there anybody out there who has done this kind of work, and can share stories or offer advice of any kind?

Saddler on

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    ImprovoloneImprovolone Registered User regular
    edited July 2009
    Anyone who asks for money to be added to a list is a scam (nearly the rule). The exception you want to know about is www.lacasting.com. I have several friends working as actors in LA and, well... sign up there.
    Headshots will be a couple hundred. Do you have any performance background? Make a resume.

    Do you have a look?

    Improvolone on
    Voice actor for hire. My time is free if your project is!
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    matt has a problemmatt has a problem Points to 'off' Points to 'on'Registered User regular
    edited July 2009
    It depends on what kind of extra you want to be, too. If you're content sitting around for 12 hours doing nothing, while you wait for a scene where they need people to mill around in the background, just look for open casting calls. Pick up a few trade magazines and check the back. If you want to be one who is closer to the camera in the shot, or even has a line or two, you're going to need to do like improvolone says.

    matt has a problem on
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    ForkesForkes Registered User regular
    edited July 2009
    Actually, most extras casting agencies DO charge to be added to their list. And there is also no guarantee that you will get work from them.

    I was looking at this as a way to make some easy cash this summer as well, but the fact that I have to pay them to possibly not get me work was a big deterrent.

    Unless you know someone, I would say that it is not a great idea. It sounds like you are only looking to do it for a short time, and there is no guarantee that you will get work. Also, they expect you to be ready within a super short amount of time if they do call, which means you either fuck your in between job, or just wasted money paying the agency if you can't make it.

    To sum up...No. I wouldn't.

    Forkes on
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    ImprovoloneImprovolone Registered User regular
    edited July 2009
    It depends on what kind of extra you want to be, too. If you're content sitting around for 12 hours doing nothing, while you wait for a scene where they need people to mill around in the background, just look for open casting calls. Pick up a few trade magazines and check the back. If you want to be one who is closer to the camera in the shot, or even has a line or two, you're going to need to do like improvolone says.

    The second you get a line, you're union (more or less) and you get paid a ton more.

    If you have a good look it really might be a good idea. My friend has done in the past month Curb Your Enthusiasm, Iron Man 2, that biker gang show whose name escapes me, and I think a couple others.
    He has a great look though. He's big, dark complexion, and can grow a beard in an hour.
    He also has a great resume and reel, which even as an extra can be important.

    Improvolone on
    Voice actor for hire. My time is free if your project is!
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    MonoxideMonoxide Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited July 2009
    It depends on what kind of extra you want to be, too. If you're content sitting around for 12 hours doing nothing, while you wait for a scene where they need people to mill around in the background, just look for open casting calls. Pick up a few trade magazines and check the back. If you want to be one who is closer to the camera in the shot, or even has a line or two, you're going to need to do like improvolone says.

    The second you get a line, you're union (more or less) and you get paid a ton more.

    If you have a good look it really might be a good idea. My friend has done in the past month Curb Your Enthusiasm, Iron Man 2, that biker gang show whose name escapes me, and I think a couple others.
    He has a great look though. He's big, dark complexion, and can grow a beard in an hour.
    He also has a great resume and reel, which even as an extra can be important.

    I didn't know Curb was filming already

    this is good news

    Monoxide on
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    ImprovoloneImprovolone Registered User regular
    edited July 2009
    He was on the season finale.

    Improvolone on
    Voice actor for hire. My time is free if your project is!
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    kaliyamakaliyama Left to find less-moderated fora Registered User regular
    edited July 2009
    If you don't want to be an actor this is a waste of your time because you wait hours on set and never be used, and the cost/benefit ratio is really crappy as a result. Sometimes people get paid in pizza. Otherwise it's $100 bucks for a day. A day could last 12 hours. Given the hassle involved, i'd think it would be a better use of your time to try to get a temp job at kelly services or something, as long as you were getting 10 bucks an hour.

    kaliyama on
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    Dr. FrenchensteinDr. Frenchenstein Registered User regular
    edited July 2009
    It depends on what kind of extra you want to be, too. If you're content sitting around for 12 hours doing nothing, while you wait for a scene where they need people to mill around in the background, just look for open casting calls. Pick up a few trade magazines and check the back. If you want to be one who is closer to the camera in the shot, or even has a line or two, you're going to need to do like improvolone says.

    The second you get a line, you're union (more or less) and you get paid a ton more.

    If you have a good look it really might be a good idea. My friend has done in the past month Curb Your Enthusiasm, Iron Man 2, that biker gang show whose name escapes me, and I think a couple others.
    He has a great look though. He's big, dark complexion, and can grow a beard in an hour.
    He also has a great resume and reel, which even as an extra can be important.

    Sons of Anarchy

    I believe you need a SAG card if you have a speaking part, but if you get a speaking part out of the blue i'd be surprised. I don't think dues are that expensive though.

    A friend of mine has been on a few game shows out there. i think you have to know somebody to get that kind of gig though. he's "in the business" so to speak (animator).

    Dr. Frenchenstein on
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    SaddlerSaddler Registered User regular
    edited July 2009
    Thanks guys. It's mostly paying for headshots that is causing me to hesitate. I don't especially want to pay the initial investment, and probably won't do it. How often do you need new headshots, anyway? Every year?

    I don't want to be an actor, but I still want an interesting temporary job. I can afford to sit around and do nothing for four days a week all summer, but I'd rather do something productive, or have some sort of unique experience while making money at the same time. I'm semi-qualified for random office temp work, but there are probably a lot of people who are more qualified than me.

    Saddler on
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    ImprovoloneImprovolone Registered User regular
    edited July 2009
    You change your headshot when it no longer looks like you.
    If someone has a headshot of you and you show up not looking like the headshot, say goodbye to that job.

    I'm also, hesitantly, going to say don't do it. There are people working as extras who are working to being professionals actors. The idea that you might take a job away from someone who wants to be out there doing this is a bit of a grey area for me. The last thing LA needs is another "actor" with no experience or real interest.

    If you still want to do it (rock on in which case), do you have a look?

    Improvolone on
    Voice actor for hire. My time is free if your project is!
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    wallabeeXwallabeeX Registered User regular
    edited July 2009
    I live and work in LA, and have a few friends that have done extra work to varying amounts of success. I'd say if you're an actor, it can be a great way to try to get your SAG card, but let's be clear here:

    You don't just sign up for SAG. You need X amount of lines in actual film productions - until that point, you can't join SAG.

    http://www.theactorslife.com/business/how_to_join_SAG.html

    wallabeeX on
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