The Supporting Artist
Register yourself on various agency websites. Sites like;
- Extra People,
- Uni-versal Extras,
- Casting Collective
- Mad Dog Casting
- Phoenix Casting
- Ray Knight Casting
- Guys and Dolls
These are your first port of call. When you register your interest, fill in the application form thoroughly. Agencies are looking for something that stands out to them. Bear in mind; they receive these applications by the dozens every day. You have to capture their imagination with your application. It’s the difference between them calling you for an official registration or not.
Photos, I need a portfolio!
Right, photos. This is what bogus agencies will try to get you to pay upfront for before you get jobs. Don’t do it. Getting professional shots is nice if you have the money, but it’s not necessary when you first start out. Always take photos with a digital camera. That way they can blow up the image to 8 x 10 and give it out. When you send in your application, add several shots taken for the purpose (not you eating a chicken wing at a BBQ). Always post a full-length photo as well as a head and shoulders shot. This is a minimum requirement. To make more of an impression, send along another ten different shots of you in various guises. Scruffy, smart, casual, in a suit, jeans and t-shirt give them as many different styles you are comfortable in. They want extras, someone who will blend in with the crowd and who won’t upstage the lead actors.
Are there fees upfront?
Casting agencies frequently ask for a fee of around £45-£75, but it’s never taken upfront. You pay your fee out of your first day’s wage. Do not under any circumstance pay an agency up front. Any agency that asks for a fee upfront is not legitimate. So be aware.
If your application to join is successful, you will get a call to come in for a face to face interview. You have to pay your travel there and back, but a lot of agencies have branches throughout the UK. There’s no need to book a night away or pay for extensive travel if an oyster card is enough.
How much do I get paid?
When will I be famous?
It depends. As a child, it could be the springboard to bigger and better things. Yet, the majority of extras fill the quota of ordinary people in a scene. So the chances of lead billings are slim. If you want to supplement your income while you work, it’s easy money. While I wouldn’t relish being on screen full time, I was an extra (when I was still at school and again later as part of a DVD extra segment), and it’s a pleasant enough experience. As a young person, it can help you focus since you learn to take direction. As an adult, it can be tedious sitting around waiting for the next scene so always fill your time productively between shoots. Overall it’s a fun way to earn extra cash, and you might spot yourself on the big screen.
Give it a go and let me know how you get on!