How to Become An Extra in a Movie: A Guide for Beginners

it's possible to be an extra in a film or movie.

You see them in almost every movie. The people who stand in the background, give a thumbs up, high five or cry with their hands covering their eyes. These are extras, and they play an important role in films. Have you ever wondered how to become an extra in a movie? It’s a job that thousands of people have done in the past (and there will be other opportunities in the future.

Whether it’s a comedy, action flick or romance, almost every movie has a scene where there are fictional characters instead of real people. As you probably know by now, those fictional characters are called actors.

Extra in a Movie? Can I do That?

That may sound silly because we’re talking about the people who are playing fictional characters. However, it makes sense when you consider that even non-famous actors can’t just walk around as themselves while cameras capture everything they do as part of their job as an actor. When you watch Top Gun: Maverick, Spiderman or even the NBC show Chicago PD, you see extras hard at work.

There are a lot of people who would love to be an extra in a movie or a television show. For these people, it seems like an opportunity that they cannot miss. However, the truth is that being an extra in any movie is not as simple as people think it is. There are several challenges that most people who want to become an extra in a movie don’t see coming their way.

Why do Movies Use Extras?

Movies use extras for a number of reasons. The most obvious reason for using extras is that it’s cheaper to hire a bunch of people for a day or a week than it is to hire full-time actors for the same length of time.

On average, most films use maybe one or two actors who are well-known, a small cast of secondary actors (up to 15 people) and some guest spots for primary scenes. The rest of the people in the movie are extras.

Amazing, right?

Since extras aren’t paid as much, it makes it possible for films to hire more people people to fill in group shots and spread their budget out more effectively. Another reason films use extras is to create the illusion that there is a large group of people wherever the main characters go.

This is what you see, as the viewer, when watching the film. It can be seen in scenes like a protest or sporting event where the extras are wearing specific clothes and holding signs that show they support the main characters.

How to become an Extra Actor

The first thing to do if you want to become an extra in films is to learn as much as you can about the industry. You should read articles about the movie business and what it’s like to be an extra. You can also read about extra actors themselves.

Many extra and background actors are found in Los Angeles, but when a film is on location you have locals working the scenes. It’s not necessary to move to Los Angeles to get extra work (I mean, you can if you wanted to though.) You can also sign up for groups like on Facebook, that specialize in connecting people to extras work. You can also check out casting calls specifically for aspiring extras or background actors. While the auditions for casting calls might be a bit time consuming, it’s important that you apply for every scene you want to work.

What are the Requirements to be an Extra?

There are no specific requirements to be an extra. that being said, you are an actor in the background so there are certain things you should do to prepare yourself before you attend a casting call. First and foremost, you’ll want to look the part. The best way to do this is to pay attention to the kinds of extras you see in the movies.

Then see what you might need for a casting call requirement. You also want to make sure you have all the documents you need to prove that you are who you say you are. Paperwork is a bid part of being an extra as you clock in and out daily. You are part of the film, but not the mainstay of the actors so you don’t always work daily. Items you need include your ID, social security card, and any other documentation you may need depending on where you live. In Los Angeles, it’s important to know all the details needed as the Hollywood entertainment world is fairly strict.

Ever Wondered how to be an extra in a movie?

The Audition Process

The audition process for an extra in a movie is a bit different from that of the main cast. Yet, it will still cause the nerves to jitter.

In most cases, extras are just called in for an initial audition and don’t have to go through what the main cast does. The only time extras have to go through the same process as the main cast is if they’re being considered for a speaking role.

In most cases, extras are only considered for background work. Many extras go to casting calls and are told to stand in a line, hold up a card that says what their role is for a minute or so as they are filmed in a line down a hallway, and then go home.

Depending on the film and how many extras they need, you may not even be seen by the casting director or director of the film. You typically submit your paperwork, do as directed for the audition and then wait to see if you are called in to work.

Confirmed Extras vs. Background Actors

You’ll notice there are two types of extras: confirmed extras and background actor. It’s important to know the difference as the pay rate is different AND you have different responsibilities.

Confirmed extras are those who have been given a specific purpose in the film. They may have been given one line to speak or they may be in the background of a scene and have block instructions (they are told where to move as the camera is rolling).

Background players don’t have a specific role. Instead, they’re hired to fill out the scene with their bodies and are given instructions on how to act. In many cases, people get the job of extra but have no idea what they’re doing. They’re given instructions on how to stand or how to react to what’s happening in the scene.

What is a Featured Extra?

A featured extra is someone who is integrated into a scene, but who is wearing different clothes than the rest of the extras who are standing in the background. This is usually done by an experienced actor who has a special task. Featured extras can be paid more than other extras but they also have to look and act differently than the other extras.

A perfect example is a pool scene and one individual dive bombs into the pool as everyone else watches. Technically, the feature extra is the person who jumps in the water and is doing a feature for the scene. If you’re working as a featured extra, you’ll likely have a few lines to say. You may even have a few lines that are critical to the story. You’ll probably also get a bigger rate than other extras as you’re more important and crucial to the scene.

How to Get Cast as an Extra in a Movie

If you’ve tried, but you’re still not cast as an extra in a movie, there are a few things you can do to increase your chances of getting a part.

The first thing you should do is get a headshot taken. A headshot is a professional picture of yourself that you can use when applying to casting calls.

You can also apply to casting calls directly through the company that’s producing the film. In many cases, casting directors will post the casting calls on their websites or on websites that specialize in extras casting calls. If you can, try to apply for a casting call as soon as it’s posted. You should also keep an eye out for open calls in your area.

Open calls are events where anyone can show up and try out for a part. You may have to bring a Polaroid picture of yourself to the event, but it’s worth it if it gets you a part.

Start Your Acting Career Learning

The best way to start your career as an actor is by studying the craft and taking acting classes. A lot of people want to jump into Hollywood and become famous as soon as possible, but that’s not how it works. You need to go through the process of learning about everything to do with acting and how shows and movies are made, and this is one of the best ways to do that.

Or you can apply strictly to be an extra in a move when available and learn that way. There’s no better training ground for actors than actually being on set. You’ll learn what the camera sees and how everything is done. You’ll see how actors and crew members interact with each other, and you’ll see what goes into making a film. Background acting isn’t glamorous, but it’s a great way to build your resume. And make some money

How Much Does a Extra Get Paid?

There’s no set pay rate for extras unless you are in the union. The rates go up and down depending on the type of work and the location. For example, you might earn more to be an extra in New York than in the middle of nowhere in Texas or working along other background actors in Georgia (where the entertainment business is booming.

It’s not just the location that determines the pay for extras. The type of work also matters. If you’re just standing in the background on a set, you can expect to earn less than an extra who is integrated into a scene. If it’s a smaller film and/or an independent film, you will make less Extras are generally paid per day, . If you’re an extra and you’re in an intimate scene, you might earn more.

Extra work is unpredictable and not always steady income. But it can be a nice way to earn some extra cash while you’re trying to break into the industry and become a full time actor. Do know that you will be told how much to expect before you show up for work. Every honorable studio makes production inform extra actors, background actors and even crew before they come to work.

Is Acting Required?

There are some extras roles that require you to act. The most common of these is crowd extras. These are the extras who fill the background in scenes with lots of people. For a crowd scene, you’d want to stand out as much as possible.

If you know you’re going to be in a crowd scene, there are a few tips you can use to stand out. Wear bright colors or something that stands out. If you’re in a crowd scene at a sporting event, wear team colors. You can also wear interesting hats, interesting T-shirts and accessories. Avoid logos and make sure you dress to the scene. These include clothing as seen in real life. Like in hospital scenes, courtroom scenes, and news broadcasts.

To make sure you’re ready to act if you’re required to, you can take improv or acting classes.

Do you Need Headshots to be an Extra?

No, you don’t need to have headshots to be an extra. But you do need a headshot if you want to be an actor. It shows that you’re serious about your career as an actor and that you’re invested in your future in this line of work.

Having a headshot is how you let casting directors and movie directors know that you’re serious about this. If you want to be an extra but you also want to pursue your career as an actor, you can still get headshots. Show off your personality with a few different shots.

Should I Sign with an Extras Casting Agency?

Be a Star! Be in a Movie!

You don’t need to be with an extras casting agency to be an extra or even a background Actor. If you want to be an extra, you can just show up at a casting call. The casting call may say that prefer you work with an extras casting agency, but you don’t need to be signed up with an agency to be an extra. In these types of situations, typically you will hired through the agency for the work related directly to the project.

Keep in mind you can just show up and do the work like any other extra. If you do want to be an extra, you can join an extras casting agency. This will put you in a database of people who are looking for extras in their shows and movies. As the database of people looking for extras is much larger, you’ll have more opportunities to be an extra if you’re signed up with an agency. Being with an extras casting agency won’t guarantee that you’ll be an extra, but it will greatly increase your chances.


Now that you know everything there is to know about becoming an extra in a move, it’s time to put these tips into practice. Start paying attention to the types of extras you see in movies and films. If you can, try dressing as an extra for a short scene at home and take pictures of yourself in different poses.

When you feel like you’re ready, sign up to attend an acting class and go to as many movie open casting calls as you can. With enough practice, determination, and patience, you can become an extra in movies, TV shows, and commercials. There’s nothing more exciting or rewarding than being a part of the entertainment industry as a background actor.

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