An Extras Story: Are you able to Actually Make Cash Being a Movie and TV Additional?

Studying Time: 6 minutes

When MoneyMagpie founder Jasmine Birtles urged lately that there was work to be made as an Additional in movie and TV, she was met by plenty of very unbelieving feedback. Some outright mentioned “yea as a result of that’s a factor” and others requested actually how this might be executed. Now we have lined this beforehand on MoneyMagpie right here. However we requested filmmaker Miles Watts in regards to the expertise.

Miles Watts

Miles on set

“You might have seen the present Extras and thought, do all these folks within the backgrounds of TV and movies receives a commission to be there? The reply is sure they do. You then may surprise, is the cash ok for me to contemplate attempting this? 

Now, personally I’ve executed a bit of additional work, and this was partly as a result of I had nothing higher to do one week, and in addition as a result of I used to be , filmmaker that I'm, to see what it was like from the opposite aspect of the digicam: being become a interval movie additional. The truth that the TV present and movie I signed as much as additional in had been about, respectively, a serial killer (I’d simply made a film about one) and the opposite one starred Alan Rickman, I assumed why not? 


Put merely, extras or SAs (Supporting Artists) are paid to fill out the backgrounds in TV reveals or movies that want crowd scenes, passers-by, pub regulars and so forth. Typically an SA gained’t have a featured or talking function: their job is to mix in and appear to be they’re a part of the scene unfolding within the foreground. That mentioned, you possibly can (and I've) gained the odd additional function with a talking line, for which you receives a commission extra – and extra on that in a bit. 


Keep in mind I did each the extras jobs for a little bit of enjoyable, not as a result of I wanted the cash or wish to be an expert SA or something. I have to say, the respect I garnered for extras after being one skyrocketed immeasurably. 

For the primary job, the TV one in regards to the serial killer, I used to be required for a funeral scene in a graveyard in a nice Yorkshire area, so I used to be pushed by my long-suffering companion (I don’t drive… but) to set very early within the morning, the place I used to be stuffed into the interval swimsuit I’d been fitted for every week earlier (you receives a commission for that, too). That was a nice sufficient day, a bit boring, with plenty of standing round whereas the crew arrange photographs (one thing I’m greater than accustomed to, so I watched and waited patiently). 

The scene concerned me ushering mourners out of the church, nodding on the actor enjoying the vicar, who’d labored with Johnny Depp and on nearly each TV present and movie I’d ever seen, and shutting the door. I did that about ten occasions. The shot didn’t make it into the film, presumably not as a result of I used to be so terrible in it however most likely as a result of the scene was too lengthy. The digicam crew will get a whole lot of what they name protection of extras, most of which they don’t want however which covers them within the edit. Come to think about it, that’s most likely one of many causes it’s known as protection. 


My second extras job, with the identical company, was not as nice as a result of it was in a dank, darkish, chilly, crumbling constructing, and I used to be a semi-featured additional (I didn’t have a talking function however I needed to tip my hat on the solely different additional within the scene.) The principle actor within the scene was a now-very well-known British actor from TV and movie (together with a Spielberg one) and she or he was nothing however pleasant and courteous as we blocked out the scene and she or he ran her traces repeatedly.  

After a couple of goes by way of the blocking – which is the place the actors and extras work out who’s standing and strolling the place – it was relayed to me that I wasn’t transferring quick sufficient by way of the scene, then too quick, then not tipping my hat appropriately, after which they gave up the concept of me doing any of the above, and made me sit in a quiet room in the dead of night subsequent to a warmth lamp, presumably to consider what I’d executed. 

It then took about 5 hours for them to escort me from the set (you possibly can’t simply depart whenever you need), take away my itchy pretend beard and set me free into the wild, the place I met with my companion to get pleasure from a pleasant chilly beer. Oh and Alan Rickman didn’t present up, after which later I came upon the explanation was that sadly, he’d succumbed to most cancers. However, it was an expertise, I'll say that. 


I did after all receives a commission for the entire above: for my costume fittings and for my additional time on set, and it was paid after they mentioned it could be. However I wouldn’t say it was a simple couple of days: early begins, random places, uncomfortable garments… nevertheless, we did get some good food and drinks throughout the breaks. 

So, should you fancy having a go at being an additional (and I’ve had many affords since), right here’s what to look out for. 


First off, it's essential to enroll with an company, who would require pictures of you and a biography, with entrance, aspect and again photos of you with no make-up, plain sufficient garments and a transparent expression: type of like taking a passport photograph. This fashion, the expertise company will have the ability to see what you appear like. Be trustworthy together with your pictures, as a result of you might simply have the precise look they’re going for relying on the mission: being the scale you might be with the coiffure you may have (though typically you might be requested should you’re amenable to altering your look) might be precisely what they want. 

Perform some research into the perfect UK expertise companies. A few of these embody: 

  • The Casting Collective 
  • The Casting Community 
  • Catnap Casting 
  • Euro Youngsters & Adults (EKA) 
  • Additional Individuals (that is the one I’m a member of) 
  • The Extras Dept. 
  • Greenlight Casting 

Google round and ensure the company you apply to is legit, and adheres to the legal guidelines of expertise work within the UK. As an company employee, you may have the identical rights as different staff and employees to: be paid a minimum of the Nationwide Minimal Wage or Nationwide Dwelling Wage, to not have any deductions out of your pay that aren't authorized. To be paid on time and by the agreed methodology. 

When you’re signed as much as the company, you’ll have to attend for alternatives to come back your method, which is the shaky a part of being an SA. I stayed signed on with my expertise company, principally to maintain observe of the productions occurring in my space, and up to now six months for instance, I’ve had a number of emails every week asking me to check out for a number of huge productions – we’re speaking BIG Hollywood movies with big stars, and new TV reveals for Netflix and the BBC.  


The cash is fairly good for a aspect job, as I say, however not as a fundamental profession, as you’re on the mercy of no matter productions are operating. Covid was disastrous for the movie and TV trade but it surely’s slowly coming again: as of late you’ll HAVE to be Covid-compliant on set, so meaning masks and hand san in addition to social distancing: it’s the regulation! 

You may make as a lot as £100 a day being an additional, however as talked about earlier than, half of that would doubtlessly be spent in your journey prices. Plus, the schedules are sometimes mercilessly last-minute and rigid, so in case you have an everyday job or household commitments, it’s very arduous to suit SA work into your month-to-month schedule. In the event you fancy it although, and also you ideally have your individual automobile, you might wish to look into it.  


Ideally you’ll must drive to the places, that are normally near-ish the place you reside however regularly in the midst of nowhere, and the beginning and end occasions usually depart rather a lot to be desired. The longest extras day I did myself began at 5am and ended at 3am, for which I used to be paid extra time, but it surely was a protracted, uncomfortable day the place I needed to put on a false beard and tight swimsuit. You’re not allowed to have your cellphone on set so you possibly can’t sit round texting, and there’ll usually be lengthy intervals of time the place you’re sitting on set or in a trailer with nothing to do.  

You’ll be answerable to firstly the Costume and Make-up Departments, the place you’ll be tousled and buttoned into your outfit, then to an Assistant Director who’ll spend a whole lot of time talking right into a radio and ushering you backwards and forwards from set to be sure to don’t get lost. And you'll’t make a whole lot of noise on set between takes both, otherwise you’ll incur the wrath of the 1st AD, who're scary by nature. 

There's the camaraderie of the opposite SAs nevertheless, and I made some good buddies on set. I used to be nipped and tucked and combed and glued into my costume all day lengthy, and my legs had been killing me by the tip of the day – and all for sometimes not making it into the ultimate minimize.  

And also you do receives a commission on time, extra should you labored extra time, and it’s a dependable cost system, if not a dependable profession.”


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