The top five ways to be a great extra

The top five ways to be a great extra

As a background actor, (a fancy way to say extra) I consider myself a guest on the set of a TV show or movie. Being invited back is in my best interest (and that of my bank account,) so I make it a point to mind my manners! What I call ‘setiquette’ is unique. Here some basic guidelines should you find yourself being an extra on TV.

·      Be cheerful

Smile! Good etiquette on TV and movie sets starts with a positive attitude. Let your first impression be of someone excited to be there, not a sourpuss complaining about an early call time or lack of breakfast. 

·      Be polite to everyone.

There are a lot of people on a set. You never know if you’re talking to the producer, or the person getting her coffee. Being polite ensures you make a positive impression either way. Being an extra on TV can take you places when you’re polite. I know one background actor who got an audition for a speaking role simply because he held a door for a casting director.

·      Be patient.

The life of an extra involves a lot of waiting.  Production moves slowly.  Time between scenes can be long, and sometimes you don’t even get on set at all.  Being an extra on TV is not as glamorous as it looks. Patience and good humor makes you better company, and a better employee.

·      Listen.

There’s not a lot asked of extras, so when your wranglers do talk, listen.  Stop talking so you don’t miss important information and have to ask the crew-member to repeat him/herself.

·      Follow directions.

Directions are given on a set for specific reasons.  They aren’t always yours to know, so “why?” should not be in your vocabulary. If you listen (see above) you will succeed. If you’re told to stay in one place, stay there.  If you’re asked to be quiet, pipe down.  In a nutshell, be respectful of the people directing you. 

I’ll be going into further detail of “settiquette” based on my personal experiences being an extra on TV in later posts, but these points are a great place to start.  If you’re really thinking about getting in on the action, click through to find out how to register at Central Casting.  

See you on the set!

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