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10 Do’s and Don'ts for an Extra on a Professional Movie Set

Updated on June 23, 2019
Kimberly Martis profile image

Kimberly Martis is a Dutch Caribbean freelance writer. She writes about culture, beauty, tv-shows, music, movies, odd jobs and fiction.

You might be wondering what it would be like to play in a movie. If you are too shy to go for a real part you might want to dabble into being an extra. As an extra, you can experience what it's like to be on a real movie set and see everything that goes on behind the scenes without having the spotlight on you. So, if you don’t mind walking around in the background or doing some other not remarkable (but very valuable) act in the background then being an extra might be the thing for you. To help you through your first day as an extra here are 10 do’s and don'ts for an extra on a professional movie set.

1. Don't Talk to the Actors

It can be exciting to see actors in real life. And you might want to say more than hi and bye to them. But when you meet actors on a set they are working. Give them the space to do just that. Don’t go bother them with stories or try to make small talk. Of course, you can talk to them when they take the initiative but don’t force a conversation.

2. Don't Ask for a Picture

Actors are not obligated to take pictures with extras. Some simply don’t want to and others don’t have time for it. If you really want to take a picture with your favorite actor it would be best to ask the extras supervisor. He/she can ask the actor if he/she wants to take pictures with the extras. If that's the case the extras supervisor will let you know when and where you can take the picture. If you get the chance to take a picture with an actor just take the picture and move on. The actor is already given up the little amount of free time that he/she has to take a picture with you so respect their time.

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3. Be Prepared to Eat Anything

There will be food on the set. On some sets more than others. But it's not you get what you want. No, it's you get what we offer. If you are a picky eater it may be smart to bring your own food/snacks to set. The catering always makes whatever they want to. Sometimes they will make special meals for the cast and crew but extras can't turn in special requests.

Besides this the extras eat after the cast and crew. Don’t fight it or ask why. It just is what it is.

4. Be Patient

There will be a lot of waiting. There might be different reasons why you need to wait. The filming equipment might need some attention, the crew is having a small meeting, actors might be behaving like divas, etc. Whatever it might be you just need to stay patient. If you are easily bored bring a magazine or book with you so you can distract yourself while waiting. Or you can just interact with the other extras as they are also waiting.

5. Follow Directions

If you’re not good in following directions you might want to reconsider working as an extra. It is very important that everybody does what he or she needs to do for it to look good on camera. Therefore, it is key to follow directions. If you don’t understand the directions you were given you should ask for clarification

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6. Don’t Feed or Correct an Actor’s Lines

Actors also make mistakes. Therefore, they might say the wrong line at the wrong time. They might also forget their lines. If this happens you shouldn't say anything. Even if you do know what the correct line is. It is not your job as an extra to correct or help an actor with their lines even if you mean well.

7. Don’t Talk About Money

Most of the time you will get paid to be an extra. The amount varies. It can be a lot or barely anything. This depends on different things. Mainly if you're hired through an agency or directly by production. Besides that, it also depends on how big or small the production is, how long you need to be on set, what you need to do, etc. Payment may also vary per person as different agencies pay different rates for the exact same role as an extra. Therefore, if another extra is hired by another agency then they may get paid more or less than the amount that you will receive. Whatever the pay maybe don't talk about it. This way you will avoid uncomfortable situations.

8. Don’t Let Anybody Disrespect You

It's fine if nobody knows your name but it’s not fine to be called out of your name. It might be crazy, busy and hectic on set but that is no reason for anybody to push you around.

Besides this, you should only do whatever you feel comfortable doing. If someone on the set (it doesn’t matter who it is) asks you to do something that you are not comfortable with you should speak up! There is no need to go over your own personal boundaries.

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9. Don’t Expect too Much

It will definitely be a special experience but you should not expect too much from it. Don't expect it to be the best day of your life. Don't expect a lot of attention or to be in the spotlight. Don’t expect your own trailer, to become friends with the actors, special treatment or anything out of the ordinary. Don’t expect to (only) have fun as it is still a job. Because if you go into it expecting too much you might end up very disappointed.

10. Enjoy

And last but not least you should have fun. Live in the moment, look around, interact with the other extras (maybe even actors) and soak in the experience. This way you will have a great memory of your day on a professional movie set.

© 2019 Kimberly Martis

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    • Kimberly Martis profile imageAUTHOR

      Kimberly Martis 

      11 months ago

      You’re are absolutely right! Be seen and not heard is very important when you’re an extra. But sometimes (very rare though) you might get asked to say a line or two as an extra. If that’s the case you may break the rule of just being seeing and not heard.

    • Carolyn-Kelley Williams profile image

      Carolyn-Kelley Williams 

      11 months ago

      The only thing I think I know is, to be seen not heard.

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