How to Be Production’s Favourite Extra on Set
How to Be Production’s Favourite Extra on Set
You’ve had the call. You’ve been selected from a lookbook of hundreds of other Artistes and you’ve been booked for a fantastic new part – great news.
Now. How do you make your time on set count so you can ensure these opportunities keep on coming? How to do you establish yourself as one of production’s favourite Extras?
Here are some insider, on-set tips on how to impress a production’s Assistant Director so that next time they’re casting a part you’d be great for, they just can’t resist having you back…
✔️ Be Punctual
First and foremost, it’s great practice to schedule to arrive before your call time.
This might sound like an obvious one to kick things off with, but a lot goes into making sure things on set flow with military precision so being late for your call time is one sure-fire way to land you with a big red X next to your name. ADs would sooner pull crew from the floor to fill in than waste production’s money by waiting on latecomers.
Account for some of those inevitable delays and obstacles by giving yourself some buffer time. This ensures you can comfortably navigate to the right filming location, get parked, get changed, use the bathroom, and locate the AD all in time to check-in.
Establishing yourself as a punctual Extra is a great way to fast-track straight into every AD’s good books.
✔️ Arrive Prepared
As you may well be aware by now, Extra work can involve some long periods of waiting about. Bringing a book, a tablet and headphones, a sketchbook – some kind of quiet means of keeping your mind occupied during the production lulls – will signify to everyone around you that you know the drill.
In fact, next time you’re on set, take a look about. You’ll see many seasoned Supporting Artistes doing exactly the same.
These waiting periods are a great opportunity to get some personal tasks and life admin done whilst technically still working, too, so make the most of it. It’s win, win!
Preparation also extends to having a handful of small snacks and a refillable water bottle, too. Whilst there will be food on set, having something to eat within reach at all times will keep the stomach rumbles at bay in the meantime.
✔️ Blend In
We love that many of our Artistes are professional actors outside of their time with us, but in this instance, we’re not looking for any flamboyant improv. That’s one way to get shuffled right to the back of the shot, and the bottom of the list for next time.
Since it’s your job to provide background colour, your objective here is not to stand out but to do what you can to blend in. That means no wild or spontaneous acting choices, no edging into frame or doing what you can to make yourself more visible – just focus on helping build that authentic world-view and supporting the production’s cast by acting natural.
Remember that screen-acting is very different from theatre-acting. Whilst on stage you’re encouraged to scale your movements up, on screen, even minute movements are much more visible than you’d think. Try to conduct yourself as if just going about a normal day and you’ll do great.
Think of it this way, if you’re too much of an attention-grabber in the background, the chances of you booking a speaking or featured role on the same production further down the line will be 0.
❌ Don’t Distract the Actors
If you’ve worked with us in the past, you’ll already know that snapping pictures of the actors is an absolute no-no, but trying to strike up a conversation with the cast will also get you in the bad books.
Actors often participate in very thorough regimes to find the focus they need to get into the zone before a scene (method actors in particular) so production simply ask that you’re respectful of their process. Best not break their concentration.
We completely appreciate how exciting it can be to spot your favourite household names knocking about on set – but on set, remember that you’re a professional and not a fan.
Better to keep your cool and hone a reputation for being professional. That way you’re giving yourself the best shot at getting booked for even more work later on down the line. Then you’ll be rubbing shoulders with stars on the regular!
✔️ Be a Joy to Have Around
Pure and simple: if you want to be a production’s favourite Extra, be a considerate, can-do person.
Someone that follows direction, cleans up after themselves and, most importantly, is nice to the people they’re working with. That goes for the crew and your fellow Extras.
If you’re taking good care of all your props, paying attention to what’s happening on set, and being considerate of all those around you, you’re going to be a dream to direct. Productions will absolutely remember that.
Guess who will be right at the top of their list for next time?
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