Friday, November 23, 2007

A Glorious Backseat: Acting as an Extra

Whenever you see the posters of old epic movies, you might notice an often-repeated phrase: featuring a cast of thousands In the good old days of movie making, producers had all the money to pay thousands of people to show up as gladiators, raucous crowds, or protesters. To act as an extra in a movie was akin to rubbing elbows with the stars, and people who acted as extras were more than happy to lend a hand in making a movie.

Today, movie studios rely heavily on special effects wizards to create artificial crowds. For instance, entire battle scenes can be filmed with only ten to a hundred people standing in as soldiers, with the rest of the people designed into the scene. Nevertheless, acting as an extra has not lost its appeal, and there are still many ways to land a role as an extra. You can walk through a scene, raise a shield for a scene, or simply be someone in the background.

If you are interested in acting as an extra and yes, getting paid for your services; here are a few tips that you might want to follow.

- Join an acting workshop. Most workshops will either be headed by people who have worked in the industry, or organized by people who regularly cast for major studios. In order to land a role as an extra, you need to have connections, so start making them.

- Look for an acting agency that specializes in landing extras. Do a lot of Internet research on this one: you can find acting agencies that regularly look for extras, and who like to keep pools of people to act as extras. Get your resume ready and have some good photos of you taken.

- Join online groups or forums that are frequented by people who work in the movie industry. In order to land a role or get a job, you need more than abilities and skills: you need to have connections, and you need to know people. Activate your social network: if you have close friends, you can ask about working as an extra. Who knows? Simple questions and friendships can sometimes make for big breaks in a career.

- Watch out for calls for extras in your local newspaper or on your favorite Internet movie site. Be especially vigilant if a movie is shooting in your town or nearby, as the producers will certainly post openings for extras. When the call for extras comes, get everything ready as though you’re already posing for your shot!

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