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TV Extra Jobs: Guide to Becoming a TV Extra in the UK
Have you ever imagined yourself on the screen, even if just in the background of a bustling café scene or a vibrant crowd in a film? While the lead actors get the limelight, it’s the background actors, or film extras, who fill the scene and make it come alive.
Here’s your complete guide on how to find work, the ins and outs of the industry, and what you can expect when you join the world of film and TV as an extra.
What is a TV Extra?
A TV extra, also known as a background actor or supporting artiste, is someone who performs in the background of a scene. While they might not have speaking roles, their presence is crucial. Film extras provide the backdrop that makes scenes in films and TV shows realistic.
Diving into the Industry
Most aspiring film extras in the UK start by registering with casting agencies. These agencies have connections with casting directors and productions looking for extras for various scenes.
Some prominent casting agencies include The Casting Collective, Mad Dog 2020, and Uni-versalExtras. Remember, while most agencies might require a joining fee, they should never ask you for large sums of money up front. Usually, agencies charge a commission from the pay you receive for your film extras work.
Understanding the Pay Structure
Being a film extra can be fun, but it’s also a job that pays. However, be realistic. While film work can be an exciting foray into the world of showbiz, background work won’t make you as rich as the main cast.
For example, under the BBC Equity Agreement, film extras might be paid around £86 for a nine-hour day, which includes a meal break. Understanding contracts, like the ITV Equity Agreement, can help you know what to expect in terms of compensation.
Securing More Work as an Extra
If you’re interested in getting more work, having a can do attitude is essential. Casting agencies appreciate extras who are flexible, punctual, and ready to put in long days on a film set.
For those in the South East, there might be more opportunities due to the number of productions in the area. But irrespective of your location, your ability to be versatile will always count.
Making the Most of Your Role
Film and TV can be a competitive business, but with hard work and dedication, it’s possible to move forward. Be prepared to sign up with other agencies too, as different agencies have different jobs on their books.
Always be on the lookout for opportunities to upskill. For instance, if you have skills like horse riding, it could make you more appealing for certain roles.
In the world of film and TV, supporting artists play a pivotal role in bringing scenes to life. So, if you’re looking to join the exciting world of film and TV in the UK, now is a fantastic time to dive in and become an extra.
Whether you’re looking to make it a full-time career or just earn some money on the side, working as an extra offers loads of experiences and opportunities to meet all the people who make the magic happen behind the scenes.
Frequently Asked Questions
In this section we answer your questions about becoming a film extra.
What exactly is a TV extra?
A TV extra, also known as a background actor or supporting artiste, is an individual who performs in the background of scenes in films and TV shows. While they usually don’t have speaking roles, they help add authenticity to a scene, making locations look populated and real.
How much do film extras get paid in the UK?
While pay can vary based on the production and the specifics of the role, many film extras in the UK can expect to earn around £86 for a nine-hour day under contracts like the BBC Equity Agreement. This usually includes a meal break.
Do I need any specific qualifications to become an extra?
No specific qualifications are typically needed. However, being punctual, adaptable, and possessing a can do attitude can be advantageous. Some roles might require certain skills or looks, so any special talents or unique features can also be beneficial.
How do I find work as a film extra?
Registering with casting agencies is a popular way to find film extras work. These agencies have connections with casting directors and get updates on available roles in upcoming productions.
Do I need to pay to register with a casting agency?
While most agencies might have a joining fee, you should be cautious of any that ask for large sums of money upfront. Agencies typically charge a commission from the pay you earn.
Can film extras get speaking roles?
While background actor roles typically don’t involve speaking, there are instances where an extra might be bumped up to a speaking role or become a “featured extra.” It’s less common, but it does happen.
How long are the working days for film extras?
Film set days can be long, often requiring film extras to be available for long days, typically ranging from 10-12 hours. However, the exact length can vary based on the production.
Can I make a full-time career out of being a film extra?
While some individuals do work as film extras full-time, the work can be sporadic. Many use it as a side gig or a stepping stone into the film and TV industry.
Are there any specific requirements or checks to work as a film extra?
Some roles, especially those involving minors or sensitive settings, might require a basic disclosure certificate to ensure you have no unspent convictions.
Can I work in multiple productions at the same time?
It’s possible, especially if you’re working on productions that have different filming schedules. However, flexibility and good communication with casting agencies are essential to manage multiple roles effectively.
Do film extras get credited in productions?
Usually, film extras or background actors aren’t credited individually in film or TV show credits. They might be grouped under a general “extras” or “supporting artists” category.