How to Land a Part in a Major Movie

Get paid to stand—out of focus—in front of Jennifer Lawrence.

Do you want to work with A-list actors and actresses, get paid, all without any prior acting experience?  You sure can, as a movie extra!  Think about it: Chances are, all you have to do is, well, what you normally do.  Every day.  Movies reflect the world, and the world has lots of people in it.  Most of the time, directors need to cast huge numbers of ordinary people to just act ordinary (in the particular context of the movie, of course).  Things like walking, driving, eating, or just sitting around—if a movie aims to be realistic, somebody’s got to do it.  It could be you here’s how.

1 – Sign up to receive alerts from casting agencies.

These agencies are hired by filmmakers specifically for the purpose of filling dozens of roles like this. You’ll need to include information about your physical description (height, weight, race, sex, etc).  You may even be required to describe your car.  If you drive an old hot rod, you may be chosen to drive it around in a period historical movie.  Pretty cool!  Also, if you have special skills like blacksmithing or horseback riding, mention it too.  For example, if a movie portraying the middle ages needs an army of knights, that renaissance fair experience and your horse would come in handy.  These agencies are almost always free—nobody charges for a role in a movie, if you’re solicited, it’s probably a scam.

Sande Alessi Casting in southern California casts non-union actors and actresses for shows like Glee, Argo, and Teen Wolf, along with a variety of  other major pictures and TV shows. Here’s some similar casting agencies:

New York:

Background Inc.

Amerifilm Casting

The Casting Connection

Los Angeles:

Central Casting


Donna Belajac Casting

Mosser Casting

We’ve got some more information for you too.

2 – You don’t need a photographer or a headshot.

These agencies aren’t looking for an airbrushed or photoshopped headshot.  They need to know what they’re really getting.  The makeup artist needs to focus on the stars.  However, you can sometimes upload theme photos.  If you want to play a cowboy, upload shots of you in western wear.  If you’re in the market to play a dancer, dress like one.  Depending on the casting agency, you can create a profile that shows off the many sides of your character.  It’s still best to show off your honest, normal personality first.

3 – Keep an eye on social media.

Make sure you watch your email and phone for calls from the casting agency.  Also, many agencies post jobs through social media, so clean up your profile and be on alert.  It may help to be the first to comment or respond to an ad, so turn on notifications and watch out for those opportunities.

4 – Act (and look) professional.

This is still a job.  A real job, with real bosses, that you can really be fired from.  The acting community is close-knit, so getting canned for unprofessional or downright bad behavior could be the end of acting for you, forever.  If you’re instructed to do or wear something, do and wear it.  Show up on time with all of the materials you need, no excuses.  Stay off your phone and other distractions, too.  If you seem like you don’t care, they’ll fire you and find somebody who does.

5 – Most of all, be patient—and enjoy the experience.

Don’t be discouraged if you don’t get a call back immediately.  This process takes a long time, and many people give up.  You can increase your chances of living your dream if you stick with it and keep busy, all while keeping an eye on the market.  This is a highly rewarding experience for those who seek it.  You might get to be in a movie for goodness sakes!  This is why competition is tight, and it might take a while.  With enough patience and perseverance, you could make it too, but be sure to enjoy the experience! 

Keep in mind, most extras only make about 9 dollars an hour. Opportunities for a raise do exist within the industry. If you’re good, and you’ve successfully acted in a few roles before, you could get a Screen Actor’s Guild invitation to become an SAG member. You could also pay a fee for the privilege.  Being an SAG member opens the door to higher-paying extra roles.

It doesn’t matter if it’s a one time gig, or if you intend to grow a career in acting.  Working as an extra in movies or TV shows can be a fun and rewarding experience!  Plus, you get to point yourself out when it airs.  If acting as an extra sounds fun to you, give it a go and apply at a casting agency.

Source: (NY Castings)

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