What are Movie Extras?
by Aimee Mitchell
The movie extras form the rich tapestry of background performers in almost every scene of a movie.
Movies and television shows often use people like props to create a background which seems like a real environment. Movie extras are people who are needed to participate in such roles. Extras are used in an attempt to make movie or television scenes appear fuller, richer and natural.
So what role does an extra do in a movie or on TV? The movie extras form the rich tapestry of background performers in almost every scene. You will see them as crowds at sporting events, patients in hospitals and diners at restaurants. Movie extras are the soldiers on the battle field, students in the school hallway and even the criminals in jail cells. Regardless of the scene, location or time period, extras are used play the role of background fillers. One important thing to note, by definition, Extras never speak. It's an unspoken rule (no pun intended), when an extra is asked to mouth a dialogue, even if it's just one word, then the extra becomes an 'Actor'.
Work is available for extras in movies or television shows and it doesn't matter whether they are a part of the acting unions or not. Extras get paid in the range of $7 per hour for an audience job or $50+ for a 12 hour job for a non-union film to whatever the employer may decide to pay. All union jobs have to abide by the SAG agreement. SAG (Screen Actors Guide) has launched a new section called Background Performers. Therefore, if you want to be part of the union, then SAG offers some helpful information to becoming a movie extra.
Now that you have understood how to be a member of the Guild, you need to understand about how to get work and what to expect once you have work as a movie extra. To get work, you can visit any of the online sites which offer casting in movies. Other option is to approach the casting agents in your city for work.