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Earn Money As A TV/Film Extra

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You curl up on the sofa together, a mug of hot chocolate and reach for the remote to watch your favourite programme. But what if you featured in them? That’s another money making opportunity right there. Becoming a supporting artist (an extra).
 
Ricky Gervais wrote about the trials and tribulations of a supporting artist but does it mirror the reality?
 
To some extent, “Extras” does portray the life of a supporting cast member quite well. The long days, standing around in full regalia waiting for the Director to shout cut. Trotting off to the catering truck, then spending your afternoon waffling on in the back of shot while the principle cast shoot their scenes. Shuffled around like cattle on market day.

The Supporting Artist

To become a Supporting Artist (SA) is easier than you think. You could be cast as you’re walking past a set. A randomer going about your daily business. But if you’re not the chosen few, where do you find these little gems, these bite-sized morsels to add to our promised 15 minutes of fame?

Extra Work

Register yourself on various agency websites. Sites like;

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.

supporting artist work

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.

extra work

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?

Pay can vary depending on when you get called so I’ll give you a ballpark figure so you can make your own decision on whether it’s worth it.
 
The FAA (Film Artists Association) pay £89.52 based on 9 hours work after 7 am and before 10 pm. Anything out of these hours receives the night-time rate of £111.90.
 
The BBC pay an SA £86.40 based on 8 hours work and an hour lunch daytime and £94.60 night-time. Walk-Ons (where someone plays a stereotypical identifiable character) £106.80 daytime or £129.20 night-time.
The ITV pay walk-ons about £75 basic then day/night-time rates are added on individually.

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!

Acting jobs are easy money for those that don't mind hanging around waiting for the director to shout cut! Let me explain how you can be a supporting artist. #actingjobs #thestage #performingarts #supportingartist #castingcouch

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