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Become a Hollywood Star!

By Rachel Nash

Posted: 18th October 2012 10:07

If you want to make it into the movies one day then why not become an extra?  Don’t scoff; the most famous actresses and actors began their careers as extras.  Brad Pitt was credited as a ‘partygoer’ after starring as an extra in the drama film ‘Less than Zero’, Megan Fox dirty danced in a club in ‘Bad Boys 2’ and Bruce Willis sat in on a courtroom scene in the Paul Newman film ‘The Verdict’.  Read on if you fancy yourself as the Hollywood star. 

Becoming an extra is easier than you think.  The number one quality you need is patience.  Like any other job, it’ll take time before you get any responses back so you need to be dedicated and not give up at the drop of a hat.  The job itself requires a lot of waiting around and you may be asked to re-take scenes numerous times.

Registering at an agency is one of the best ways to stretch yourself around the acting world because you can join as many as you like.  Or research local casting offices in your area, you’ll find plenty available and if you still have no hope university student filmmakers are always looking for extras.  All agencies in the UK are listed here

You can be an extra for just about anything!  Films, TV episodes, music videos, adverts, student films, you name it, you can do it.  Even just living in an area can get you a part in a film.  When the ‘Harry Potter’ franchise filmed in small villages near Bath they hired local children to star as extras in ‘The Chamber of Secrets’.  Visit the Screen International website to find out current films in production. 

You may not get to say any lines, it’s quite vital that you look ‘plain’ and ‘ordinary’ and you’ll probably be ignored by the biggest stars but you can earn a fair amount of money becoming an extra.  The BBC pays around £73 a day whereas ITV pay slightly less.  Film extras always earn more of course but that can also depend on the size and budget of the film itself.  You can earn more for overtime and wearing your costumes but no matter what TV episode or film you star in your meals are always free.  Not a bad day’s work. 

Previous experience in the acting industry isn’t needed at all.  However experience will help you to be considered more and give you a better chance because directors could ask if you have ever done any acting, even if you’ve only ever taken part in the school play of ‘Romeo and Juliet’ when you were 15, its still experience.   Skills in dancing, fencing and horse riding will give you a higher chance of bagging a ‘walk on’ part. 

Casting agencies usually advise women not to dye their hair or cut their fringe because women extras with period hair do well in the extras industry.  So if you’re hair is bright red unfortunately you won’t be accepted on a Jane Eyre TV series.  You need to be available immediately for each casting you’re booked in for and make sure to arrive on time.  Once you’re on a set, don’t hang around.  Find your contact person immediately and remember you’re working so no pets, friends, cameras and especially children. 

If you’re only interested in becoming a part time extra, why not take the opportunity to use your gap year to appear in a Hollywood blockbuster?  Hollywood generates so many films and TV pilots each year you’ll have a guaranteed chance of starring in one if you have what they’re looking for. 

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