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How to Become an Extra in a Movie

What do Clint Eastwood, Brad Pitt, and Marilyn Monroe all have in common, besides the fact that they're all super successful actors? They all started their acting careers as extras. If you hope to follow in their footsteps or if you simply think hanging out on a movie set while making a little money would be fun, consider becoming an extra. Put together a portfolio, search for local casting calls, then break a leg on the big screen!


EditBuilding Your Portfolio

  1. Get a professional headshot taken for your portfolio. It can be from the waist up or from the shoulders up. Keep it simple and clean by choosing a solid-colored top, neat hairstyle, and minimal makeup if you wear it. Remember that a headshot isn’t about looking pretty, it’s about looking natural, so don't wear heavy makeup or edit your photo too much.[1]
    Become an Extra in a Movie Step 1 Version 2.jpg
    • While you’re having your headshot done, ask the photographer to take a few full body shots, too. Casting agencies often request these.
    • Good headshots can cost anywhere from $400 to $1,200.
    • If you're on a budget, look for beginner photographers who sometimes offer free or discounted sessions. Or ask one of your friends to take the photos for you. shot.

      Don’t send a photo that’s too suggestive or casual. Leave the low-cut shirts, overdone makeup, and selfies at home.

      Don’t wear distracting patterns or accessories. You want the focus to be on your face.}}
  2. Create an up-to-date resume highlighting your skills and experience. List your most recent or most relevant experience first. For example, if you’re applying for an extra job for a film, put any film experience you have at the top. Include any special training or skills you have, too, like music, dance, or even an awesome English accent.[2]
    Become an Extra in a Movie Step 2 Version 2.jpg
    • Always put your measurements and physical stats like weight and height somewhere on your resume.
    • If you don’t have any professional experience, write down anything you did in college, like plays you performed in or a theater troupe you were a part of.
    • Attach your resume to your headshot. You can even print your resume directly on the back of an photo.
  3. Design a website to show off your past work if you have experience. Include a bio detailing who you are and your experience, a page with contact information, and a gallery of the roles you’ve played. Include performance shots, embedded reels, or stills from any movies or TV shows you’ve been in.[3]
    Become an Extra in a Movie Step 3 Version 2.jpg
    • You can send the link to your website when you respond to casting calls so directors can get a bigger picture of what you have to offer.
    • Upload your resume to your website along with your headshots to keep everything in one place.
    • Register a custom domain for your website using your name, like “,” for example. This will cost an annual fee of about $10 to $15. Or make a free website on Wordpress or a similar blogging platform.
  4. Take classes to improve your skills if you don’t have any experience. Make up for your lack of experience by mastering skills like getting into different characters or memorizing lines. Sign up for acting courses at a local college or drama school or take online classes. You can also join a drama troupe or improv team at your school or community center.[4]
    Become an Extra in a Movie Step 4 Version 2.jpg
    • List any courses or acting-related activities you do on your resume.
    • Working on your acting chops in your free time shows directors that you have ambition and a willingness to learn.
    • Look online to find classes or clubs in your area. Check with local theaters, too. They sometimes offer workshops or special courses.

EditFinding and Getting a Job

  1. Register with multiple casting services to help you land a gig. Casting services or agencies have inside access to open positions. Once you sign up, they’ll keep your information on file and notify you when there’s a role that may be a good fit for you.
    Become an Extra in a Movie Step 5 Version 2.jpg
    • The more places you’re registered at, the more opportunities you’ll have to get booked.
    • You may have to pay a $10 to $20 processing fee.
    • Central Casting is the largest casting agency in the industry. To find a casting agency in your area, google “casting agencies in Baltimore,” for instance, if you live in Baltimore.[5]
  2. Apply to casting calls by sending your headshot and information. A standard casting call will require you to email photos of yourself along with a resume and/or basic details like your height, weight, and measurements. Make sure you follow whatever directions are given and send all of the necessary attachments or information.[6]
    Become an Extra in a Movie Step 6 Version 2.jpg
    • For example, if the casting call says “Please respond with the subject line ‘Extras Casting,’” use that as your subject line. Directors want extras who can listen to instructions.
    • Don’t lie or fudge numbers. Different projects need different body shapes, sizes, and heights. If you don’t fit the requirements, don’t apply.
    • Many agencies hold open casting calls at least once a month.
  3. Avoid scams by thoroughly researching an opportunity. If something sounds too good to be true, chances are it is. Call the phone number provided on the posting if there is one to get more information or ask friends and family in the industry if they’ve heard of the company or project. If you can’t figure out if it’s a scam, it’s best to err on the side of caution and not pursue it.[7]
    Become an Extra in a Movie Step 7 Version 2.jpg
    • Phrases that make outrageous promises, like “Earn $400 in a day!” or “I can make you a star,” are most likely a scam. Look for typos or spelling errors, too.
    • Scams are most common on public sites like Craigslist where anyone can post jobs.
  4. Focus on looking presentable and natural if you have to audition. Auditions, also known as look-sees, are rare for extras. However, if you are required to audition or attend an open casting call, remember it is all about your appearance. Wear a simple outfit you feel comfortable in and style your hair neatly.
    Become an Extra in a Movie Step 8 Version 2.jpg
    • You won’t have to read lines or prepare any materials since extras don’t have speaking roles.
    • Avoid wearing heavy makeup or anything that covers up your face or body. The point of an audition is for the director to decide if your appearance fits what they’re looking for.
    • Don’t take it personally if you don’t get the role. Rejection is common for actors and extras, but keep in mind that directors need certain body shapes, sizes, and types for different roles. It has nothing to do with how “good” you are!
  5. Keep your schedule open while you wait to hear from directors. Filming dates and call times are rarely set very far in advance and can change in an instant. Having a flexible schedule is key in being a successful extra. That way you can be ready when a director calls you at 10 p.m. for a 7 a.m. shoot the following morning.[8]
    Become an Extra in a Movie Step 9 Version 2.jpg
    • If you have another job while you’re trying to find work as an extra, talk to your current boss to see if they’re okay with you needing time off on short notice.
    • You also never know how long a shoot will last. So if you have plans after a filming day, there’s always a chance you will be stuck on set for 14 hours or more.

EditRocking Your First Day

  1. Show up to set at least 30 minutes before your call time. In the film world, the saying, “early is on time, on time is late, and late is unacceptable” is definitely true. Arrive early to figure out your way around the location and make a good first impression.[9]
    Become an Extra in a Movie Step 10 Version 2.jpg
    • When you arrive on set, check in with someone immediately so they know you’re there. You’ll often be reporting to the assistant director so try to find them.
    • Never be late to a filming. It's unprofessional and will hurt your chances of being called back.
  2. Follow all of the wardrobe, hair styling, and makeup instructions. Before you arrive, the director will let you know what to wear, how to style your hair, and how to do your makeup, if the company isn’t providing it for you. If it’s a law TV series, for instance, you may be asked to wear a tailored suit and sleek hair.[10]
    Become an Extra in a Movie Step 11 Version 2.jpg
    • For longer shoots, you may need to bring multiple outfits. Pack them in a garment bag along with the right shoes and accessories to keep them clean and organized.
    • If they are providing your outfit, like for a historical or sci-fi show, you’ll likely have to arrive early to be dressed by the wardrobe department.
    • Always look as presentable and polished as possible. The better you look, the better your placement in the scene will be.
  3. Play your role correctly by blending in and not standing out. Now is not the time to try to steal the show. Directors will be more impressed with someone who plays their part the way it’s supposed to be played. Do exactly as you’re instructed and don’t improvise.[11]
    Become an Extra in a Movie Step 12 Version 2.jpg
    • Even if you think adding an extra step or smile would make the scene better, don’t do it. Everyone has a specific role for a reason and you’ve been hired to play yours as it is.
    • Never look at the camera directly or speak when the cameras are rolling.
  4. Network with other aspiring actors in between takes. When you aren’t shooting, you’ll likely be hanging out in what’s called the holding area with the rest of the cast. Use that time to get to know your colleagues. Ask about their experiences in the industry or see if they have any advice they’d be willing to share on how to get a callback at an audition, for example.
    Become an Extra in a Movie Step 13 Version 2.jpg
    • Chat with the production assistant, director, or assistant director if you can. They’re the ones who can open the most doors for you and have the power to bring you back for another project if they like you.[12]
  5. Act professionally at all times. Remember that this is a job and if you want to continue working in the industry, you don’t want to burn any bridges by behaving poorly on set. Be respectful of the crew and the lead actors and always listen to the director’s orders.[13]
    Become an Extra in a Movie Step 14 Version 2.jpg
    • Don’t leak any details of what was filmed. Even telling your best friend about the scene you shot could be breaking your contract.
    • Taking pictures is often forbidden and cameras will be confiscated. That means no selfies, either!



  • Don’t forget to include your phone number and email address on your resume.
  • Be wary of non-paying extra work. Many productions will attempt to book extras with no pay even when they have the budget to pay them.
  • Know your rights. You may be eligible for pay increases if the conditions you’re working in are uncomfortable.
  • Don't submit to a casting call unless you know you can be there and stay for the duration of the shoot.
  • Check thrift stores, yard sales and clearance sales for medical scrubs, business suits, cocktail dresses, tuxedos, etc. These are commonly requested wardrobe options for extra work.
  • Consider buying period pieces (disco wear from the 70's, 80's styles, etc.) if you can find affordable items.
  • Most extra jobs will usually include meals while you are there. However, you may be there for several hours before a meal is served, so pack some snacks or eat a meal before you go. You won't be permitted to leave for lunch and then come back.
  • Network and chat with other extras. You may find new work or at least make new agency contacts.

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