Hi Background friends! I have had some people ask me how to be an extra. Really, it’s not that difficult because they need to have normal looking people to fill in the background.
How to Be an Extra (or a background actor as we like to call it).
Back when I was beginning this blog, I wrote this post on how I began and this post on how to find more work. Now that I have a whole year under my belt, I have an even better understanding of the business, although I still need to know more. First of all, take a look at this backstage article on why being a background actor is a good thing.
So Where Do I Start?
You’re going to need Facebook if you want to work in the background because that is how I find most of my jobs. Not all, but most. You will follow the casting agencies and submit when they post a casting call.
My favorite is 4 Star Casting. Click here for their website. You can click on “extras registration” or access them through their Facebook account. With 4 Star, you set up an entire profile. You also have a calendar that you can mark when you’re available and when you’re not. If they have something and you fit the look and demographic, they will send you an availability check through your email. You need to respond ASAP because you want to say yes before everyone else. Once you respond positively, you wait and see if you receive a booking email. You may be booked or you may receive a notice that says “You have been released for…” which always makes me just a little sad.
Sometimes 4 Star will post casting calls on Facebook and be sure to follow the exact directions on how to submit for that role. Joan Philo is the casting agent for Chicago Med background and Chicago Fire background. Follow Chicago Fire Extras or Chicago Med Extras on Facebook. You will also want to follow Chicago PD Extras Casting and Extraordinary Casting. For these four, there are no availability checks. If you see a role, submit right away because they go fast, really fast. And make sure to follow the exact directions for them too. You don’t want to not be chosen just because you didn’t put down the right information. Chicago Fire and Med will call you if they want you and Chicago PD and Extraordinary Casting will send you an email.
On this post I briefly discuss how you can see their Facebook posts first and this is
important. These jobs go very quickly and if you see one, you need to submit right away. I also use backstage.com to find some work. You have to pay to use this service but it is reasonable. It is about $100 for the first year. I haven’t found a ton of work but I have found some, at least more than I paid for the service. Also, I do like the work because it is always something different than your regular Chicago shows. For example, if you remember my American Greed post, that is a job I found through backstage.
I hope this post on how to be an extra helps you begin. I will warn you, however, it can be addicting. Once you start, you want to keep going. And I’m not sure why because it isn’t always fun and games. But you’ll be hooked just like me which is why I now write about my life in the background.