BECOME A BACKGROUND ACTOR/"EXTRA"
Background (“extra”) work can be fun and exciting and a great way for aspiring actors, the general public, retirees, etc. to get hands-on experience and directly observe movie magic on a daily basis.
HOW CAN I BECOME A BACKGROUND ACTOR/"EXTRA"?
Can you be available all day – for up to 10 -14 hours at a time?
Are you prompt and professional?
Do you have reliable transportation?
Are you willing to travel to remote locations on occasion?
Do you listen and take direction well?
Does your schedule allow you to be flexible?
If you’ve answered YES, continue!
Perform an online search for New Mexico Background or Extras Casting Directors. Most companies will allow you to register online.
You can also view listings on the NMFO’s website in their Industry Directory:
HOW LONG IS A TYPICAL WORKDAY?
A typical workday is 10 to 14 hours. Be prepared to sit and wait for extended periods of time, so bring a book or another quiet pastime.
WHAT IS THE AVERAGE PAY?
The pay rate is usually minimum wage.
WHAT IF I CAN ONLY WORK HALF A DAY?
Unfortunately, that’s not an option. You must be available for as long as they need you. Even if they tell you it will be an 8-hour day, plan on 12.
WHERE CAN I FIND BACKGROUND CASTING CALLS?
If you’re registered with a Background Casting Director, they will contact you directly.
You can also view the NMFO’s Casting Calls:
Most local Background Casting Directors post casting calls through their websites or Facebook pages.
DOES IT COST MONEY TO BE LISTED WITH A BACKGROUND CASTING COMPANY?
DO I NEED A PROFESSIONAL HEADSHOT AND RESUME TO GET STARTED?
No, however, you’ll need to have two clear digital photos of your face and body (file size: 50k – 300k max, and have them labeled with your full name). Know your measurements, even your hat size.
DO I NEED AN AGENT TO DO BACKGROUND WORK?
No, however, if you’re serious about pursuing a career as an actor, getting a Talent Agent is the natural progression for securing auditions. Check out the Talent Agency listings from the New Mexico State Film Office:
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A TALENT AGENT AND A CASTING DIRECTOR?
A Casting Director is hired by the production company and is responsible for casting the actors. Talent Agents represent the actors. The Casting Directors use the Talent Agents to find the actors.
There are two types of Casting Directors:
Casting Directors cast speaking roles, called “principals."
Background (Extra) Casting Directors cast background talent, which is non-speaking roles.
TIPS FOR FIRST-TIMERS ON SET:
Research basic film terminology and set etiquette. Know film lingo, such as “a picture’s up” and “back to one.”
Be on time. Early, in fact. Never, ever be late. In the film business, early means you’re on time. Being on time means you’re late. Each minute that's wasted can cost the production thousands of dollars.
Turn off or silence your cell phone. Never take pictures.
Do not post any information about the project on any social media sites. In many cases, you've signed an NDA and this could be a major violation that could result in legal action.
Avoid looking directly into the camera and directly at the “stars.” Never engage them in conversation or ask for their autograph.
Be respectful and courteous. Uphold New Mexico’s “film-friendly” reputation.