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Should Movie Extras Be Paid More?

Updated on February 25, 2017

The Reality!

I remember being on a job, week on a feature film I was sprinting, falling, jumping and wrestling soldiers to the ground as part of my scene.

Production had hired ‘professional stunt men’ whose job it was to do all the above, alas myself and several other people got roped into doing the same. We were literally doing the exact same thing, in fact we did it better and the so-called stunt men kept for the better words ‘screwing up’ all the time.Needless to say the stunt guys were on over £500 a day and us ‘grazing props’ (that’s what I call extras) were on just over £100.

I’m sure many of you reading this who are in the industry at some point have thought ‘hmm wait a minute….this isn’t fair’.

Cheap Labor!

Production companies take advantage of extras as cheap labor.

I’m not going to make out like we are hard done by, as let’s be honest, our wedge at end of each day on the chit is still better than most people get as an average daily wage.

Why hire expensive stunt men or professional actors, when you can pay an extra peanuts in comparison and get them to do the same…lets be honest we wont say no.

And because we don’t say no, production companies know they can take advantage and more than often ask you to do things that normally would require some degree of training.

Qualified Movie Extras

Should there be a course that all extras need to take in order to become qualified and recognised as an industry standard background artist?

This is something I have thought about over and over again, if all casting agencies only used people who have under taken said course and have gained the industry recognised qualification, then…

  1. You will have high standard of artists
  2. Will push all the wannabees who work for free and attention out the door
  3. Increased basic pay, as it will become a skilled job.
  4. Casting agencies can boast all there artists are qualified and skilled.

The Extra Mile!

When Extras are expected to become Actors at moments notice!

This happens a lot on TV productions, when as an extra you are happily plodding along or sitting miming a conversation when you hear the AD shout…’ahoy you with the long hair show some real emotion towards what is happening and all sudden the camera pans around and is all up in your face like waaaaaa and your forced to become an actor in split second and muster up some facial expressions to what maybe happening.

Then you hear the director say ‘no I don’t believe you, make me believe your feeling what is going on’….and all your feeling is about 2 foot tall inside whilst all the other extras are looking at you thinking lucky sod going to get the supplementary fee for that.

Cast your vote for How would you rate being an Extra


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