Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is an "extra" or "background actor?"

A: Actors who populate the background of a scene or can be seen moving across in a scene are called "the background." They usually have non-speaking roles in the production.

Q: Why is "networking" important?

A: If you're interested in continuing to work in the filming industry, networking with others who are more experienced or have connections will help you learn where the jobs can be found.

Q: What one thing should I take with me to a filming location?

A: Actually, there are three necessities I advise actors to carry along, including: A pen, so you don't have to borrow one to complete essential paperwork; some reading material; and a folding chair, to make your wait on some of those long production days, when you spend a lot of time waiting to be called to a scene, a little more comfortable.

Q: How many days a week can I expect to work?

A: Three to five days for non-union (that's you). With a calling service, you could work every day. Calling services are listed and explained in my book, The Truth about being an Extra.

Q: Does the production company ever use our cars?

A: Yes, and often, depending upon the type of car. The cars in demand are usually luxury cars and, for some reason, they don't like red, white or black. However, they have used my black Cadillac many times, so go figure. I've included a chapter on "Movie Cars" in my book, including pointers for registering a car.

Q: How do I join Screen Actors Guild (SAG)?

A: Although the requirements are changing even as I write, here is the latest from SAG about non-union background actors' eligibility: A background performer who has worked a minimum of three days consecutive or non-consecutive as a background performer on any production produced by a signatory company, has been paid SAG wages and has the three vouchers, is eligible to join SAG. For more information on how to join SAG, call 323 549-6772.

Q: Are there special tools I need to take with me on the set?

A: Yes, although it may sound simple, a pen is imperative. You must complete your voucher (proof that you worked) and movie extras don't like to share; pens have a way of disappearing. Also, try to remember to take a jacket if you are working on a stage. They are huge and windowless and can be very cold. Ladies, always take a pair of flat shoes, as you could be on your feet for hours. It's okay to bring your own folding chair.

Q: Are there special casting agencies just for children, and are they legitimate?

A: Yes, all the legitimate agencies that I am aware of are listed in my book, The Truth about being an Extra. However, you must always be aware of the ones that require you to pay an advance fee and be knowledgeable enough to judge the agency's legitimacy for yourself.

Q: How do I become a performer with speaking lines?

A: Perform in plays and student films to get experience. Read books about acting. Take acting classes. Develop another career to support you or supplement your income while you build your acting career.

Q: If I have a question that is not answered here, may I email you?

A: Sure, you can contact me, and I will answer as quickly as possible. Be patient, as I may not respond immediately. The absolute best way to get the answers, however, is to buy my book, The Truth about being an Extra: How to Become a Good Background Actor.



Q & A