5 Things I Didn't Know About Being an Extra on a Film Set

Updated: Jan 24, 2018

This past fall after I quit my full-time corporate job, I finally got the freedom to fulfill a life-long dream of being on a film set. I signed up on a local website called http://bcfcasting.com to be an extra in a movie or television show.

The application was quite simple. I had to fill out a quick bio about myself, add a few photos (none of which are professional headshots), list physical traits such as hair colour, height, clothing sizes, special traits like piercings or tattoos, list of any special skills I have like dancing, scuba diving, any languages or special skills like bartending, list of any special types of wardrobe or props I already have such as baseball gloves, dance shoes and cowboy boots, and last but not least to list if I have any pets or vehicles that I could add to a set.

The first thing I learned was that I did not need to have an agent or have professional head shots done. I just filled out the form to the best of my ability and added as much information as possible. A few weeks later I was contacted by email to be a part of my first extras project.

When I first got the email, I was so excited to know that I would get to be a part of a film set, and that one of my bucket list dreams would finally be fulfilled.

The first project I was a part of, apparently was one of the biggest extra "cattle-calls" in BC history with over 600 extras on set. A lot of the people around me (extras who have had many years of experience behind them) moaned and groaned with how crazy of a day it was going to be. As a newbie and an outsider, I thought everything was so magical and went so well. It ended up being about a ten and a half hour day in the pouring rain, but I loved every second of it. Since then, I have been called back two more times, and have continued to enjoy the experience and seeing behind the scenes of just how much time and effort even one minute of filming takes to capture and perfect.

So what are the 5 things I learned about being an extra on a film set?

1. You actually get paid!

I had no idea that extras got paid. When I first signed up to be an extra, I was just happy to be a part of the action that I would have done it for free...but of course the extra cash is ALWAYS a great thing. It is also great to know that people do get paid for "background work" and that film studios don't just take advantage of people to fill their sets and scenes. In BC being a non-union member, the rate is about $12 an hour, and after 8 hours of work you get paid overtime which is about $18 an hour.