What are Movie Extras?

by Aimee Mitchell

Young adults looking happy

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.

The SAG has sanctioned the New Entrance Requirements for Background Performers. Additionally, the National Background Actors committee has also approved replacing the three-voucher eligibility rule with a brand new points-earned system. According to this, there shall be two options to becoming a member of the Guild via movie extra work. The two options are: 1) Union (Covered) or 2) Non-union (Non-covered) work on SAG Signatory projects. The movie extras may also be eligible for earning membership points by being a part of other designated activities aimed towards raising the professional standards and supporting the basic aims of SAG.

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.

To find movie extra roles, visit Actingland.com. Actingland provides casting calls and audition notices for acting and extra roles all across the country and around the world.

So if you think you'd enjoy being in close proximity to your favorite actors and want to see yourself up on the big screen at the theaters or on a episode of your favorite television show, give the motion picture industry your best shot!
Aimee Mitchell is an acting coach, short story author, community theater director and playwright. She has spent the better part of her adult life working with young actors and actresses.

Copyright © Aimee Mitchell. All rights reserved. Used with permission of the author. Not to be reproduced or distributed.
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Reader Comments

I would like to work as an extra, how can I start? Thank you for taking the time to answer this question.

Posted by Marlena (2016-05-17) 7355

Hello,
My question is , does my extra work go on my resume? Because I read that it doesn't count for anything. I know your busy so whenever you can answer will be fine. Thank you and God less!

Posted by Elizabeth Rose Busche (2012-11-13) 6329

I would like extra work for my 21 mouth old and myself. I myself have done extas work adds and moves.

Posted by Berenice de Meyer (2011-06-30) 3706

freakin awesome tips

Posted by lolmaina (2009-12-29) 2261

i want to be a movie extra BAAAAD!

Posted by zoe (2009-05-04) 1400

Would being an extra be an activitie allowed on your resume?? Could it help in the long run?

Posted by Anonymous (2008-08-12) 209

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