ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel
  • »
  • Business and Employment»
  • Employment & Jobs

Memories of the Silver Screen: How to Get Paid Jobs for TV and Movie Extras

Updated on January 7, 2012
Sometimes extras are part of a cast of thousands or at least hundreds.
Sometimes extras are part of a cast of thousands or at least hundreds. | Source

Actors reveal important truths while playing fictional characters on the big and little screen. Their profession requires talent, determination, persistence, study and luck. Jobs are difficult to obtain, and few make a living at the profession, let alone achieve the money and adulation reserved for stars.

TV and movie extras, sometimes called background actors, appear behind actors to provide atmosphere. Their profession requires no effort or acting ability. It’s an easy way for you to get onto your favorite TV show or experience the magic of the movies first-hand. And you get paid for doing it.

© 2011 by Aurelio Locsin.

Starting Out with TV and Movie Extras

So-called extras agents may require you to buy expensive headshots, take acting lessons and pay a fee to enter the world of background acting. Their ads in newspapers and entertainment mags may promise glamour and high salaries. These are simply ways they transfer money from your pocket to theirs. In truth, all you need is to sign up with a casting agent.

  • If you live in Los Angeles or New York, you can sign up with Central Casting, who supplies the bulk of the extras for productions in those cities. Registration is free but requires a visit to the office. You first make an appointment on their website for the office nearest you. You can then download the required forms and fill them out ahead of time.
  • Those in other cities can use Google to search for “extras casting” with a specific city name. Those casting agencies will also have forms to fill out but may charge a small processing fee of about $25.
  • All extras agencies, including Central Casting, need proof of ID and work authorization before they assign you tv and movie extras work. This typically means bringing a driver’s license or U.S. passport, and a Social Security Account Number card. Other documents can also be used as shown in this list.

At the Agency

Depending on the size of the agency, your personal appointment may take up to three hours. Wear clean clothing that is suitable for photography, but avoid black, white or red. A business suit is great, if you have it. A casting agent meets with you, checks your documents and enters information into a database. She also takes at least one photograph. This picture is how she decides if you are suitable for a particular background role. You also undergo an orientation that explains the basics of tv and movie extras work, what you can expect and the agency policies.

Calling In

Once you’ve finished your initial visit, you can immediately call the agency’s extras job line to find out about available tv and movies extras work for the next few days.

  • You’ll typically hear the name of the show, the physical description of the extra needed, the required clothes, the special abilities, and the name and phone number of the agent handling casting.
  • If you meet the qualifications, you can call the agent who looks your picture up in the database and asks a few questions. If you meet the qualifications, she gives you the location of the shoot and what time to show up.
  • Unless otherwise stated on the recording, non-union extras receive minimum wage and are paid for 8 hours, even if the shoot is shorter. Longer hours are common and provide overtime rates. You may also get bumps or extra pay if you need to bring special costume pieces such as golf clubs, or perform special abilities such as juggling.
  • You're under no obligation to work everyday or at all. Some extras only work once just for the thrill of being on the set. Others see this as a source of income and look for work every day.

Typical Job

Be sure to allow for traffic and arrive at least 15 minutes before your call time. You’ll need to check in with the Assistant Director (AD) who gives you a voucher and directs you to a holding area with other extras. Much of your time is spent waiting around. You generally get breakfast, lunch and dinner for free, and snacks, depending on the length of the shoot. When you’re needed in front of the camera, the AD brings you from holding onto the set and tells you what to do, such as walk, sit or stand. When the Director yells “Action,” you perform your assigned movement.

When you’re done with the scene, the AD returns you to holding, where you may remain for the rest of the day, or be called in to do other scenes. At the end of the day, you check out with the AD, who signs your voucher. He takes a copy and gives you a copy. The voucher is used to track your hours and to send you your payment. Keep your copy so you can check the accuracy of any paychecks you receive.

As a final note, I’ve previously joined the ranks of actors as well as movie and tv extras. So this information is based on personal experience.

Wardrobe Tips for Extras


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • alocsin profile image

      alocsin 6 years ago from Orange County, CA

      I hope you'll give it a go. You might find that you enjoy it enough to do more than a few times.

    • ukbusiness profile image

      ukbusiness 6 years ago from Bristol, UK

      Its always interested me in becoming an extra and I didnt realise how easy it was. May have to start looking into how to do it in my area.

    • alocsin profile image

      alocsin 6 years ago from Orange County, CA

      It's great fun and you get the free food and money. Good luck.

    • stephaniedas profile image

      Stephanie Das 6 years ago from Miami, US

      Awesome! I'm so going to do this! Maybe I'll make a career as an extra.

    • stephaniedas profile image

      Stephanie Das 6 years ago from Miami, US

      Awesome! I'm so going to do this! Maybe I'll make a career as an extra.

    • alocsin profile image

      alocsin 6 years ago from Orange County, CA

      Thanks freecampingaussie. I've enjoyed all my work as an extra, but it's at least an hour-and-a-half drive to most of the studios form, so it's not something I do anymore, especially since gas has gone up.

    • freecampingaussie profile image

      freecampingaussie 6 years ago from Southern Spain

      An interesting hub, wouldn't mind giving it a go !

      Found you while hub hopping .

    • alocsin profile image

      alocsin 6 years ago from Orange County, CA

      Thanks. If you feel you can act, you need to nurture that talent. Have you tried aucitioning for some local plays?

    • thelyricwriter profile image

      Richard Ricky Hale 6 years ago from West Virginia

      Up, useful, and interesting votes Alocsin. Very cool article with some great knowledge about getting in the business. I really do believe I can act really good and make it in the business. But then again, doesn't everyone? Happy New Year bro and take care. Nice job.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: ""

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)